Director of Employment and Culture shares seven steps to creating a leadership program
Atlanta, Georgia (RestaurantNews.com) Lissa Bowen, Director of Human Resources and Culture at Full course, sees a great opportunity for the restaurant industry to be an agent of change for the development of young people and to create the best leaders for the future. Why? Because 90% of restaurant managers in the United States started out as entry-level employees. Plus, Bowen shares another interesting stat. “Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the greatest demographic growth of hourly employees in the restaurant industry has been in the 16 to 19 age group,” she says.
According to Bowen, 76% of Gen Zers view career development, mentoring, and one-on-one training as essential to their career advancement. “It’s more important than ever to have a structured mentorship or career development program. Sometimes, as an industry, we miss that opportunity because of the urgency of shifts and because we are often short-staffed,” she says. Unfortunately, she notes, categorically high turnover rates will continue to plague the industry unless owner/operators take action.
“As leaders, it’s up to us to meet people where they are and bring them what’s important to them,” she adds. “You just need to put a system in place to help interested, high-potential hourly employees prepare to become managers, and general managers prepare to become multi-unit managers.”
Creating a structured mentorship/leadership program doesn’t have to be expensive or complex. Bowen suggests these steps to create one.
1. Set SMART goals. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Traceable. Bowen likes that the “M” stands for Motivating because she is an SLII (Situational Leadership) facilitator from Ken Blanchard, author of “One Minute Manager.”
“As a mentor, you’ll set short-term goals for your mentee and then follow up with them to see what progress has been made and what they need to achieve those goals,” Bowen explains. “When people learn to do this early in their career, they learn responsibility, and statistics show that people who set and achieve goals get promoted more frequently.”
2. Commit to regular check-ins. It’s about having regular and frequent conversations to create a meaningful relationship with the mentee. Ask them, “What are you working on right now? What obstacles can I help you with? What do you need from me? These individual meetings do not need to be long. They can last 15 minutes, but frequency matters.
“If you’re only seeing someone every two or three months, it’s actually demotivating,” Bowen adds. “Furthermore, without having regular check-ins to build rapport, attempting to provide feedback when something is wrong creates negative and even frightening reactions.”
3. Measure results. Do a survey and ask employees if the mentorship/leadership development program is helpful. One question is really all you need: would you recommend this program to a friend or colleague?
4. Identify career interests and connect to resources. All employees are born with innate interests and passions. It is the manager’s job to help them see where their interests may lead them. Once a quarter, managers should discuss with employees what they are looking for in their career development. “This is separate from a one-on-one, because it’s not about their current job, but more about what they want to learn and do in the future,” she says.
She suggests asking team members the following questions: What do you want to learn in the next three months? How will this help you in your career (whether in the industry or not)? How can I help you with this goal? Then find ways to tie that career development into their current job. Bowen gives a few examples: A student studying human resources wrote a monthly newsletter for employees and updated the employee bulletin board. “I also had a student who was interested in project management. We signed him up for a free project management course through edX, and eight weeks later I gave him a project to run,” says Bowen. “It not only helped him practice his new skills, but also helped the company.
5. Focus on your strengths. Bowen urges managers to stop focusing on failure and try to fix what’s wrong with people. “The truth is, you can’t fundamentally change people. The best approach is to focus on someone’s strengths,” she says. “Find out what they’re good at and invest in it.”
6. Conduct residence interviews. The (shocking) average tenure of a restaurant employee is two months. Exit interviews have a purpose, but why not conduct regular stay interviews? Talk to people before they leave. Ask them: What keeps you here? Why do you like coming to work? Why do you stay? What do you need?
7. Accept and appreciate the differences between people. Each employee is unique and brings something special to the table. “It’s what the best companies embed into the messaging of all internal and external communications. Managers need to express to potential and existing team members that they want them to bring their authentic selves to work every day, meet them where they are, and care about what matters to them. interested,” adds Bowen.
There are many resources to help managers identify the true talents of team members and develop employees to positively impact the restaurant industry. Suggesting good books to read such as “Multi Unit Leadership” by Jim Sullivan will help with the transition from one unit to multi-unit operations. Bowen recommends the Gleam Network, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide mentorship and leadership development to employees and managers at all levels of the restaurant and foodservice industry. Full Course also offers many training modules for operators on its website. Check out Full Course’s free e-book, “How to Build a Mentoring/Leadership Program” which you can download from the website education section.
About Lissa Bowen
Lissa Bowen is Director of People and Culture at Full course, the restaurant and development group that helps restaurants innovate and grow their brands. She has worked in the restaurant industry for nearly 30 years and has seen industry hiring, retention, talent, people and culture practices change along the way.
About the full course
Full Course is a restaurant investment and development group changing the way new businesses build their brands. The company partners with restaurants in the early stages of development and helps them tell their story by optimizing operations, developing sustainable growth strategies and connecting owners or chefs with the right investors or franchise partners. . Full Course CEO and owner Lauren Fernandez has spent nearly 20 years in the food and beverage industry, first as general counsel and head of franchise administration for a large corporation with more than 4,000 restaurants in more than 15 countries, then as the operator of a successful restaurant group. Fernandez was recently named to the Nation’s Restaurant News power list. By providing support and expertise to burgeoning restaurant brands on the front-end, Full Course lays a solid foundation for growth for them and their potential investors, from which they can successfully realize their dreams. Learn more about www.fullcourse.com.