Your brand is only as good as your people

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There’s always a crisis while running an F&B business. There’s never enough time, people, or resources to get the job done on schedule and up to expectations. With regard to people, there’s the recurring problem of shortage of talent and lack of motivation for the job.

Having managed people for over 12 years in the UAE and India, I believe a restaurant business is only as good as its staff. That’s why I like to get directly involved in recruitment in order to identify the right people for a job and then get the best out of them. I have to know who I’m hiring so that I’m able to gauge if they’ll fit in well with the company. I’ve had the privilege of watching remarkable career growths where some of my subordinates have risen from entry level positions to senior management in less than 5 years. That said, a wrong hiring decision can prove costly in the future. The saying ‘one bad apple spoils the barrel’ holds true in the case of hiring and managing staff.

Easier said than done, it takes sound judgment and experience to identify people with the right skills. Here’re some pointers on how to identify the right talent for a restaurant, nurture it, and encourage leadership. 

Attitude makes the first impression

The first trait managers should look for in a candidate during hiring, particularly for junior and entry level positions, is the attitude of the person. The way a person walks, talks to people, holds a knife speaks a lot about his or her capability. Observing a chef or junior chef in a kitchen for 10-15 minutes can give you all the information you need to decide whether or not to hire the person. It’s always the basic traits and subtle mannerisms that make a great first impression.

Team players in a multicultural workforce

Team players are an asset to any organization. Restaurateurs should hire and retain only team players because a great rapport among employees translates into a great work environment which in turn will translate into great service for the customer. It’s important for chefs and sous chefs to be able to manage a multicultural team of several nationalities, particularly in markets like Dubai. Leaders should have the courage and composure to communicate objectives and goals effectively to multiple nationalities, handle delicate situations, and motivate them.

Realistic job goals and expectations

Start-up restaurants will not be able to match the rewards and benefits offered by the larger market leaders. Restaurant owners must communicate this to their new employees, particularly if they are recruited from other countries and are immigrating to a new country with unrealistic job expectations. It’s important to be honest about job responsibilities and create a detailed plan for short term and long term goals and the monetary and non-monetary rewards that can be offered.

Create new opportunities and shape the leaders of tomorrow

As you monitor your employee performance continuously, you will be able to identify if they have the potential to grow in their current role or if they have an inclination toward a new role. A fast learner and self-motivated employee can be given bigger responsibilities or new job roles. It could be in the form of a decision making responsibility within a current role or training opportunity for a new job role. Nevertheless, a little appreciation and encouragement can give a huge boost to employee morale. If you do it right, you could enhance the productivity of your staff without them realising it.

As a manager, you may not be able to retain all your staff for very long. While your employees are still with you, give them every possible opportunity to excel. If they seek better opportunities that you can’t provide, let them go and encourage them to chase their dreams. You’ll have the satisfaction of having played an important role in their success and the advantage of a strong training model for new employees along with a healthy company culture for growth.

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