Exceeding customers' expectations, both in service and food quality and variety, is the only way to remain successful in today's very competitive and challenging foodservice business. Your company should be committed to being successful as an organization and, therefore, you must be committed to providing direction and development to all the employees, full- and part-time, who form that organization.
This performance process begins during the interview stage, when you must spend time with the applicants whom you feel could qualify for a position, to explain the company's functions and, most importantly, provide an overview of the position and what would be expected of the successful candidate.
Most service companies spend very little time with a person prior to hiring, either because this process simply takes too much time, or because there is an immediate need, and the quicker someone -- anyone -- is hired to fill the vacancy, the better. This recruiting method usually backfires!
Instead of rushing into a "quick hire," it's important to set up a formal procedure for interviewing that allows you, and the prospective employee, to get to know one other. It conveys to the applicant the expectations for the position, and the person who can fill it.
After the hiring decision is made, you need to have an orientation program that includes all the essentials of employment (employee handbook), the company (some type of marketing brochure or website reference) and specific details about the position (this would include a position description).
This orientation should be done before the person spends one second actually performing the job, not a week or more later.
Depending on the position, the new hire first should observe an experienced worker doing the job, and then perform those duties while being observed. That should be followed by a critique -- positive and negative comments -- and work assignment.
As part of the hiring process, all new hires should begin in a 90-day probationary period. This simply means that for the first 90 days, they will be monitored and critiqued closely regarding job performance. Your goal is to train and develop every new hire to exceed the customers' expectations, and perform at a level that contributes to the success of your company. Along the way, if you feel that it's not going to work, then it is better to let the person go rather than compromise the company's standards.
When recruiting to fill most positions in the service industry, it is always best to hire for attitude and train for skills. Friendly, extraverted people just seem to perform better; they have a passion to serve.
In the first 90 days, as part of the monitoring and critiquing process, it is important to document the new hire's performance. Therefore, it is essential to have a written tool to use as a formal and consistent document to review with the employee. The form shown here is a simple but effective one-page checklist that will allow you to communicate the progress, and areas needing improvement, for each new hire. Needless to say, this document should be reviewed with the employee in private, allotting enough time to thoroughly review each point, offer encouragement in those areas that need improvement, and obtain feedback from the employee.
Companies that want their new hires to be successful use this performance review quite frequently during the first 90 days -- typically at the end of the first week, after one month, after two months and at the end of the 90 days.
After the employee has successfully completed the 90-day probationary period, there still needs to be ongoing performance reviews. In the next issue, I will discuss the use of a five-point rating system that is effective not only in evaluating an employee's performance, but in providing a roadmap for how to improve.
JERRY McVETY is founder of McVety & Associates, an international foodservice and hospitality consulting firm. He has held a variety of executive positions in the foodservice industry. McVety, a Knowledge Source Partner in the National Automatic Merchandising Association, is also an active speaker on the industry lecture circuit. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org