Scott Maanum, General Manager of Turtleback Country Club and Conference Center in Rice Lake, Wisconsin offered some worthwhile advice on yesterday´s post. If you treat your staff with respect and hire correctly you will have a list of friends and family to fill the positions that become vacant.
Maanum has used this technique since we met 14 years ago. And, while he was one of the best chefs that I´ve worked with, he was also a tremendous manager of the staff he directed.
Annually, he faces one of the biggest obstacles in the restaurant business. Seasonality. There isn´t much golfing in Rice Lake, Wisconsin in February. And, that usually means some serious staff cut backs. But, when the weather changes, restaurants don´t slide, gently, into busy places. IThe transformation happens overnight. And that is a dilemma that almost every owner can relate to in one form or another. So it does pay to nurture your staff and offer career guidance as part of your management style.
According to the National Restaurant Association, the industry created 214,000 more jobs in 2005. This past January 31,000 jobs were created representing the 34th monthly gain out of 35 months.
Currently, the restaurant industry is the largest employer in the United States, next to the government. The industry employs 12.5 million people in a total of 925,000 restaurants. That is an astonishing number.
One of the problems within the industry is that many of those 12.5 million people do not necessarily look at their restaurant jobs as a career. Frequently, college bound students, star struck actors and struggling writers look at their restaurant jobs as part-time gigs that will end as soon as the agent comes knocking with the six figure check.
So it is really the owner and the manager´s responsibility to keep the staff, no matter how transient, temporary, or committed to their job, focused on being the best professional they can be, while at work.
I divided my employees into three groups. Potential management consisted of 20% of the team, full time professional waiters and cooks consisted of 60% of the team, and the other 20% were transient staff members that would last no more than four months for a variety of reasons. It was the company´s responsibility to nurture, educate and promote qualified staff to management positions within the company. It set a great example for the entire team and also developed a core of managers, chefs, and supervisors that knew the corporate culture and understood our management style.
Now don´t run off in the corner and think to yourself that you are not doing a professional job of nurturing. It is a difficult task to complete with every individual. Naturally, some of those 12.5 million restaurant employees have their sights set on other horizons. The key to strong management is to find out who is a keeper and who will be sending postcards to the company from a far, sooner than you expect.