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Young Restaurant Workers Utilizing Learning Management System

Improve Employee Retention with Leadership Development

With employee turnover rates at an all-time high and the labor market tighter than ever, restaurants are looking for ways to improve retention. With a 5-Step Leadership Ladder, you can quickly deploy a talent development program to retain team members and develop bench strength.

When vacancies occur, many hospitality businesses dive into a mad scramble to fill the position as quickly as possible, often settling for less-than-ideal external candidates or promoting internal employees before they’re ready. Wouldn’t it be great if, instead of the mad scramble, you had a bench of available talent already trained for their next role and ready for promotion?

This vision can become reality by adopting a philosophy of continuous development at every level of your organization. From the moment a new employee is hired, you have an opportunity to teach them about leadership, giving rising stars opportunities to learn management skills before you need to promote them.

This approach provides a host of benefits to both the employee and the restaurant:

  • Unexpected management vacancies can be filled instantly with employees on the bench who already have the skills they need to succeed.
  • Employees appreciate that you are investing in their development and see a tendency to promote from within, so they’re more likely to stay.
  • Your company earns a reputation of continuous development, making it more attractive to top talent.
  • Having a team that is equipped with leadership skills like communication, teamwork, and professionalism results in better guest service across the board.

But creating a good management development program is time-consuming, right? It doesn’t have to be. Here’s a 5-Step Leadership Ladder that you can use as-is or customize and integrate into your own blended learning program. With ready-made training programs available for employees at every level of your organization, you can deploy a continuous development philosophy in no time.

  1. Train the Trainer: Star performers in a skill position are often ideal candidates to become trainers at the unit level. Getting them ready to train other team members is a great way to show your confidence in them and prepare them for promotion when a trainer role opens. From validating comprehension, to coaching, to evaluating performance, these skills are highly transferable to positions even beyond trainer.

  2. Supervisor or Shift Lead: Oftentimes the first management role for hourly employees is as a supervisor or shift lead. The transition from follower to leader can be uncomfortable for some, especially if they have never been in a position that requires supervising their co-workers. By providing guidance on things like managing emotions and building relationships, you can help make the leap from teammate to supervisor a bit easier. And, these skills are equally handy in guest interactions, while your supervisor candidates are waiting on the bench.

  3. Assistant Manager: Manager development training is critically important at this stage of a career because it’s often the first time an employee needs to handle human resource responsibilities. From hiring, to developing employees, to goal-setting, assistant managers are now responsible for the performance of their teams, and they need to learn a whole new language of leadership. Help them master their new language with a training program focused on teaching these critical skills in a hospitality environment.

  4. General Manager: Did you know that as many as 35 percent of newly promoted general managers fail? This is one of the most under-trained roles in the industry, with many GMs being handed the keys to the restaurant with virtually no preparation. At the same time, many restaurant chains are planning for aggressive growth. New store openings are key to driving that growth, but staffing those stores, especially finding qualified general managers, is becoming increasingly difficult. With a well-defined blended learning program that combines e-learning with scenario-based exams and experiential activities across seven competencies, you can improve your GM success rates by as much as 30 percent. Designed as a 9- to 18-month program, AGM to GM is a great way to fill your bench with ready-to-promote GM candidates.

  5. Multiunit Manager: Multiunit managers have a unique challenge in that they are managing general managers. Multi-U 2.0 is an e-learning program based on the best-selling book by Jim Sullivan, Multi Unit Leadership: The 7 Stages of Building High-Performing Partnerships & Teams. Multi-U focuses on the seven stages of leadership development, based on proprietary research with more than 500 multiunit managers across foodservice segments. These stages detail both best practices and specific strategies and tactics related to: sales-building, recruiting, retention, customer service, time management, team building, conflict resolution, marketing, competition, high-impact restaurant visits, priority planning and of course, leadership.

With this 5-Step Leadership Ladder at your disposal, you now have a complete arsenal of proven leadership development programs to deploy at every level of your organization. So what are you waiting for? Lead the way!