Hiring and keeping employees: Part 4

Aug. 23, 2005

This week, PizzaMarketplace continues a five-part assessment of human resources topics by expert Alan Guinn. Guinn has spent more than 25 years in the foodservice industry, both in operations and in consulting. Currently he is chief executive and managing director of The Guinn Consultancy Group Inc.

I've been asked by readers to go into a bit more detail on "target" qualities we value when interviewing potential new hires. Following are some suggestions.

1. Think about the following character/personality

Alan Guinn

qualities and the impact each brings to your organization as you conduct the interview process:

· positive interaction with others
· honesty and integrity
· dependability
· team orientation
· organizational skills
· motivation
· communication skills
· leadership abilities

Although not an exhaustive list, a candidate not possessing these eight characteristics should create doubt in the mind of the interviewer regarding his ability to function as a long-term employee.

Some of you are thinking, "I just have to hire employees — I can't worry about all these abilities." And that's OK, because all of us have gotten into situations in the past where we simply couldn't apply "perfect world" interviewing techniques. So what good does this approach to hiring offer if you're in that situation?

It offers a way to work yourself out of the current employment struggle you face. In other words, these suggestions will help you begin the process of hiring better employees, who meet the requirements of your business, who are satisfied in their jobs and, ultimately, who stay employed with you longer.

Examine your methods

The final, mandatory step in the "soft skills" area of the interviewing process is to evaluate your own recruiting and interviewing, and learn from the challenges you faced and addressed. Ask all candidates how they learned about your job openings? If they heard about the job through current employees, ask what those "spokespersons" are saying about your place of business?

In fact, don't wait until a hiring cycle to find out what your current employees say to potential employees about your organization. Make sure what they say reflects pride in their jobs.

It's a well-known fact that current employees are the best source for attracting other employees. If they like working at a particular company, they'll invite others to join them. To cultivate that source of new hires — rather than spending loads on classified ads in an attempt to draw total strangers — work to build long-term working relationships with your current employees, who can lead you to likeminded friends. It's said that birds of a feather flock together, so work most diligently with employees who meet the character requirements stated above and in my past columns.

Reduce turnover

For many in foodservice — especially QSR — long-term employment means six months.

Consequently, turnover in our industry is typically triple digit. Why? There are a variety of reasons.

· Often, we hire younger employees who may have not firmly established life goals or patterns, and are therefore more prone to wander away to jobs that might appear more interesting or offer even a

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small increase in hourly pay.
· Many times, management has not been thoroughly trained in proper leadership skills or motivation theory. They often don't know how to identify or properly create a climate where the employee is either challenged by his job, much less encouraged to love it. Ask yourself an honest question: Do your supervisors and managers create a work environment that's truly enjoyable for the employee?
· Let's face it: QSR often doesn't offer pay or benefits that are comparable to other retail opportunities. Other industries also offer shorter work hours and more career-track progression. That amounts to some tough competition for employees, so figure out what's uniquely interesting and fun about your business and "sell" that to prospective employees.
· Finally, fostering long-term working relationships requires work by both parties. Sometimes managers lack the time to do that, and sometimes employees lack the initiative. Such a relationship with employees has been compared to marriage because both parties must want to make it work.

Truly, however, your best opportunity for establishing a long-term working relationship with a new hire actually starts before the new hire begins work. That's right — even before he starts. Preparation is the key. In a seminar we conduct on Developing an Award-Winning Orientation Program, we identify a series of steps which can assist your employee in becoming acclimated. Here are some guidelines we give attendees:

· Welcome the new employee the first day on the job.
· Assign a mentor with whom they can work.
· Communicate expectations clearly and in terms that are completely understood.
· Offer the new employee an opportunity for a job preview, so that he/she understands what will be expected.
· Allow her to ask all the legitimate questions she needs to ask.
· Remember that the only foolish question from a new employee is the one never asked.

In my next column, we'll work through the results of interviews and surveys and answer the critical question: What makes one employee stay on the job, while another leaves — generally at the worst possible time?

* This story appeared originally on QSRWeb.com.

* Read also:
HUMAN RESOURCES: Hiring and keeping employees
HUMAN RESOURCES: Hiring and keeping employees, Part 2
HUMAN RESOURCES: Hiring and keeping employees, Part 3

Topics: Operations Management

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