Every year, valuable employees leave companies for reasons no one really understands—not even the departing employees. In fact, when asked why they quit, many employees simply state: “I didn’t like the job.” This leaves many owners, managers, and HR professionals scratching their heads, as it’s almost impossible to pinpoint exactly what “like” means!
In reality, what makes people like their job is something you can control, although it’s also something most restaurant companies don’t focus on. Most tend to focus on the tangible aspects of employment, such as wages, benefits, job duties, etc. As such, when they bring new people into the organization, they do so on the premise that if Bob was successful waiting tables at ABC Pizzeria, then he’ll be just as successful here. But past success at someone else’s restaurant doesn’t guarantee success at yours. And just because a new hire has the technical skills to do the job doesn’t mean she’ll like working at your shop. That’s why you need to go beyond skills and technical expertise if you want a restaurant filled with productive people who actually like their job and want to stay with you.
So if you sometimes feel your company has a revolving door of talent, consider the following suggestions for hiring and retaining the staff you need.
1. Enhance your hiring process. Gone are the days when hiring an employee meant reading a few resumes, conducting a couple of interviews, and then hiring the person with the best qualifications. Today’s companies and employees are more complex than ever. And since most interviewers and most managers don’t have a background in psychology to really discover what’s going on inside a job candidate’s head, pre-hiring behavioral and/or personality assessments are vital to any hiring decision. A simple assessment tool—many of which people can complete online in less than 15 minutes—can reveal a wealth of information that might help you better determine the person’s strengths, weaknesses, communication style, work style preferences, etc. While you can’t use the assessment tool’s results as your only hiring criterion, you can incorporate the results with your formal interview answers to get a clear understanding of the job candidate’s preferences and tendencies.
2. Look for the right fit. What does a “good fit” mean? It means the person will be able to work within your organizational culture, not that he or she is technically competent to do the job. For example, is this person someone who enjoys being around others, or does he prefer to work alone? Does this person like to do things “by the book,” or does she thrive in a flexible work environment? Knowing more than just someone’s skill set is important, because chances are that someone who was successful in a structured environment will not be successful in a flexible environment. And while few employees will ever pinpoint the disconnect in work style preferences as the root of their job dissatisfaction, any employee in that situation will complain about “not liking the job,” even though it’s the same job they did elsewhere and excelled at. Again, a good assessment tool will reveal much information about a person’s potential fit within your company.
3. Help your managers manage. When a manager has an employee who isn’t working out well, the manager often will tell the employee, “You need to do this or that differently.” But rather than expect employees to change, companies need to help their managers manage better. After all, managers are supposed to manage—that’s their job. Unfortunately, most managers are so focused on meeting sales goals and putting out fires that they don’t take the time to understand the personality of each employee and interact with that employee accordingly. Once again, an assessment tool can actually help managers manage better by giving the manager suggestions of how to manage that particular employee, based on the employee’s behavioral tendencies. For example, your day-shift manager, Bill, may give long, drawn-out instructions to people. But one of his employees, Mary, may do better with directions that are short and to-the-point. Imagine how much more effectively Bill could manage Mary if he knew that. By getting Mary bullet-point information rather than page-long instructions, Mary can go from being frustrated with her boss – and not liking her job – to understanding what her boss wants and being cheerful about work.
So often we hear that managers have a “style.” But no manager can be successful if they treat and interact with every employee the same way. Managers need tools that will help them work with an employee in the way he or she will perform best!
In many companies, high turnover is a lot like a sore toe. Yes, the toe hurts, but you eventually get used to the pain, and it doesn’t bother you as much. Don’t get used to high turnover and say, “That’s just how it is here.” High turnover is a solvable problem once you acknowledge it.
Paul Endress is a nationally recognized consultant and expert in the application of psychology to the business world. He is President of Maximum Advantage International, a firm specializing in hiring and sales solutions. For more information on his speaking and consulting, please contact: www.maximumadvantage.com.