Word on the street is there is a labor shortage for restaurants and bars. They call it the war for talent. If you really look closely, the truth is that it really is a war WITH talent. As an industry we have held tight to outdated management techniques like carrots and sticks. They just don’t work.
How about that old mindset that you must “break then down first, and then build them back up”? Really? When you break people down you end up with broken people. That is not smart business. You need to rethink how you think about hiring.
Asset or Liability
When you look at hiring do you view it as a necessary evil? Do you think of your team as an investment in your brand or just an expense line on your financial statements? There is a phenomenon called the Pygmalion Effect. Basically, it’s a cognitive bias that says what we expect we tend to get, just like a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you think your staff is lazy and incompetent, guess what you tend to see? You got it. Seek and you truly will find.
How you think about your team and the expectations you have for them tend to come true. People who work for you will only rise to the level of your expectations for them. If you don’t think highly of them, they tend to give you just that.
So, ask yourself some hard questions about how you feel about your team. The truth is that culture flows down from the top, and that is all you. Your attitudes, your words, your actions become the model your team will emulate, for better or for worse. You could easily pass the buck and say “it’s them, not me.” Reality check: no, it’s you. Change your attitude about your team and your team will change.
Seek Talent, Don’t Wait
Another step to finding top talent is to become obsessed with recruiting. Hiring on demand or only when you have an opening will never get you a superstar team. The people with true talent and A-grade personality don’t last long on the open market, so you have to be constantly and consistently searching for them. Sometimes, they come from different industries. Don’t limit yourself to looking for talent only within the realm of restaurants and bars. You always want to give more weight to personality over skill. Remember that skills can be taught – it’s very hard to modify someone’s personality.
Always carry business cards and use your social media connections to constantly be recruiting. Schedule a day during the week when you are always conducting interviews. Network on sites like LinkedIn for potential candidates for leadership roles in your organization. Please remember that networking and trying to recruit A-level players is a lot like dating; you need to build a relationship and get to know them before you ask the big commitment question. That’s why consistency is a must.
Treat Your Team Like Gold
Hiring and recruiting can be very similar to mining for gold. You are going to have to sift through a lot of dirt to find a gold nugget. Once you find one, treat it for what it is…gold. Too many times restaurant owners and operators fail to appreciate the top talent they have. There’s a common saying that people don’t leave restaurants, they leave managers running the restaurants. It’s a true statement. If you fail to recognize, appreciate, and reward your top players they tend to want to be traded to other teams.
Another good theory to remember is called The Law of Familiarity. This applies to many things in your life. The more time you spend around something or someone, the more they become a normal part of your life, and the more you tend to take them for granted or ignore them. Take a look at your current smart phone. Chances are that when you first got it, you thought it was the most amazing thing in the world. A year later, you can’t wait to be eligible for upgrade and trade it in. Perhaps you have taken for granted some of the people on your team. If you have, it’s not too late to change that. It starts by saying two magic words: thank you. Now, if you have not been in the habit of showing appreciation and gratitude towards your team, do not be alarmed when they give you a very perplexed look. They might even ask you, “Are you okay?” Just like your new approach to recruiting, you need to be consistent.
If your restaurant or bar is struggling with hiring, it’s because you need to rethink and address your attitude about hiring. Little changes can have a big impact if – and only if – you’re committed to making the changes necessary to get different results. There’s an old saying that goes, “The first thing to do when you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.” Take a look at your hiring and if you are not getting top talent, ask yourself why. The real definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results. Stop digging a hole with outdated mindsets and management techniques that no longer move you or your brand forward.