HUMAN RESOURCES: Hiring and keeping employees, Part 3

Aug. 12, 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.


In making the right hire, it's important to determine and keep in mind throughout the interview process the specific critical attributes and business skills required for each job position you're filling. And since every business has different needs, an employer needs to assess the needs of the majority of his target customers to best determine whom to hire.

Alan Guinn


Clarify in your own mind what those employee attributes are, and enter every interview looking for potential candidates who have them.


In my last column, I suggested several categories of critical business skills required for good employees, so let's review them and also determine why they are so critical to your success.


Interaction with others

Interaction with others as a business skill determines not only the holistic make up of your employee group, but also assists in projecting the success orientation of the candidate in his involvement with your guests, clients or customers. The old adage of, "Plays well with others in the sandbox," actually defines this characteristic better than most. In a people-centered business like foodservice, it's essential that employees get along not only with co-workers, but with customers.


This is vitally important in regard to the portion of your staff that interacts with customers. If they don't literally radiate confidence, they will not instinctively feel comfortable and do their best work. Worse, your guests, clients and customers will not feel the warmth and ambience you want them to feel. So be careful not to hire and place candidates in roles in which they do not feel comfortable.


Honesty and Integrity

A candidate for any position should be able to verbalize his values when it comes to honesty and integrity. Being able to explain values does not, of course, indicate they "live" the values expressed; it only offers insight into the level of self-respect to which a candidate holds himself and the knowledge he has about himself.


If, however, employees are able to verbalize during a stressful time — such as an interview — the core values of honesty and integrity, they instinctively have a roadmap in their minds as to how to exist in your workplace. But to understand what each candidate is really saying, utilize active listening skills to determine whether they're telling the truth about their honesty.



Most retail establishments depend upon employees to show up on time, work a pre-determined schedule and be able present themselves ready for work. Exceptions to this occur, of course, but our general expectations of dependability preclude employees calling in, missing work, pre-empting prearranged and agreed-upon schedules, etc. After all, the profitability of our business is determined to a large degree by our ability to successfully manage employees.


How can we determine whether an employee is going to be dependable? Past work experience records and recommendations can generally offer insight and corroboration, but the easiest way is simply to ask the candidate.


A question like, "Tell me how dependable you believe you are," goes a considerable distance in offering the candidate opportunity to convince you he possesses the qualities you seek.


Once he begins answering the question, listen closely for clues that reveal his real commitment to the position available. Discern whether his answers focus on "why" or "how" he promises to be dependable. In most cases, we would want to hear the "why" because it reveals the candidate's values. It's simple to promise, "I'll show up on time and work hard every shift." But a person of character will say, "I'm the type of employee who backs up his word; I do what I say I'm going to do because others depend on that." That's one of many good "why" responses you're looking for.


Now that you envision the opportunity that exists in developing CI-targeted questions in your hiring, I suggest strongly that you draw up a series of such questions based on the critical business skills required for each position you're seeking to fill. As I wrote before, the goal of good interviewing is to find a great match for your operation, an employee who will stay for a long time. Otherwise, we slip back into the well-worn rut of hiring — and potentially firing — anyone who applies.


Ideally, we would want most every employee to remain with us for the long term, but in all too many instances, it doesn't work out that way. How can we work to achieve that long-term working relationship with each of our employees? I'll address that in my next column.


* This story appeared originally on

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

Topics: Operations Management

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