HUMAN RESOURCES: Hiring and keeping employees

Aug. 3, 2005

This week, PizzaMarketplace begins a five-part assessment of human resources topics 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.

Over the next several weeks, Guinn will highlight a variety of topics related to human resources management — people skills that make the difference between a good business and a great business. The advice in these commentaries will lead you to improve both your personal and professional ability to source, hire, embrace and encourage retention of the best employees for your business.


Alan Guinn.

employee selection process is one that can be loaded with challenges. Simply stated, some are better than others at it. But even those whose strong suit is not hiring new help, they still can learn some basic tips on finding the right employees.

So ask yourself, do you feel comfortable with the process you currently use to hire employees? If not, are you committed to change and improvement?

Understand this: Good managers realize the importance of hiring and developing great staff. Great managers view hiring as an opportunity to continually update and improve staff. Great managers also visualize and act to improve the customer-facing qualities of staff members, and they seek ways to improve the abilities of staff to meet the needs of the business.

Let's take a look at some challenges faced daily in our ongoing efforts to improve our staffs. How many of these complaints do you hear regularly?

1. "I just can't seem to find competent employees. If I do, they don't stay."
2. "Employees just don't understand what customers need."
3. "Why aren't good employees applying here anymore?"

The challenges you face in addressing these issues strike to the core of your business. They speak to your understanding of your position in the business and its relationship to others and also help you assess your advertising, interviewing, qualification, hiring and training techniques used for new hires. In other words, if these processes aren't the best they can be, then there's a chance you'll not keep an employee for very long.

Ask yourself if your job descriptions are accurate: Do they represent your true expectations of the job? Only if you understand exactly what is expected of a job candidate can you adequately discuss with him what is required to successfully fulfill the job available. If you can't express your expectations, can you reasonably hold them to the highest standard?

How do you source your candidates? Many business owners find the age-old newspaper want-ad simply does not bring quality applicants. So what should you do? Advertise elsewhere locally or on the Internet? Use paid advertising vs. free advertising? Should you source Department of Employment candidates?

How about none of those?

The best source of potential candidates is your current employee base. Find ways to create a climate of motivation wherein your current staff helps hire new staff. The best new hires will be those who hear about positions available through word-of-mouth from current employees. If they like their jobs, they'll tell others.

Let's assume several potential employees have completed applications. How do you make the decision which applicant will be offered the position? You may choose to overlook applicants that have submitted applications — for a variety of reasons — or you may elect to interview them all. It depends upon your need for new hires, as well as how closely the candidates appear to fit the job requirements.

Let's talk

Let's look at some of the basics of interviewing.

You must make your applicants feel comfortable prior to the beginning of the interview. Do you manage the environment in which the interview is conducted, or do you allow the environment to manage you? I was once interviewed by a manager stretched out on the carpet of a new restaurant. A bit offbeat, I'd say, and one that I truly remember. Conversely, I've been interviewed in offices, in the back seat of a car, in airports, on corporate jets, during seminars, in my own home, on a shopping trip.

The point is to give the candidate your full attention, but preferably in an environment in which you both can focus on the communication between each other. In the restaurant business, it's hard to find those down times outside the rush, when things are a bit quieter. Remember: The more comfortable you can make the applicant, the greater the likelihood you'll receive more detailed and insightful answers to your interview questions. The more conversational you make the interview, the less threatening the process is to the applicant. The less he feels threatened, the more honest information you'll receive. And the more you can learn about an applicant, the greater the chance you will make the right choices in the employee selection process.

Next: Using comparative interviewing as a strategy for success.

This story appeared originally on

Topics: Operations Management

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