Autumn Road

The 5 Minute Leader

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  • Carl Blanz

Recruiting + Culture Change

If you lead in the service industry and have had the luxury of having enough qualified people to fill the positions you have open, you are doing something- probably many things right.


Insufficient staffing levels mean less ability to push costs down as a percentage of revenue. In the restaurant business, the most profitable thing you serve is the last thing you serve; in the hotel business, the most profitable room you sell is the last one. If you cannot invite guests/patrons into the most profitable part of your business, you are on your way out.

It’s easy to see that tasks are already being automated and the level of human attention is being reduced. In hotels now, housekeeping is becoming a requested service or, an upcharge for daily attention. Servers are being replaced with iPads and a more casual style. I just heard that at the Twins stadium, there are no more financial transactions for food vendors. You order and pay for your food via an app from your seat and they text you to come pick it up. Technology is evolving and it’s happening quickly at the moment.


Human beings evolve much slower, we still need places that make us feel safe and needed, we need to belong. More and more, it will be the determining factor in why people accept a position from one establishment and reject an offer from another.


Gallup recently published this article about what employees by generation want. According to Gallup, Gen Z and Millennials make up 46% of the workforce. My bet is that the pool of employees for service jobs and leadership positions in the service industry consists of a much higher percentage of Gen Z and Millennials.

Here’s what the article says about what people want from an employer:


The current challenge of recruiting is a doorway into the next iteration of your organization’s culture. The measurement is: reduced turnover and a larger pool of people with similar values who want to work with you.


Here are 5 things you can do to improve your recruiting process while engaging the staff in a bit of culture change.

Write better ads.


Reading ads for jobs is about as exciting as reading a cereal label. You don’t have to try hard to stand out a little. You can stand out a lot by writing ads that are simple and speak to your values and your purpose.

To make this an exercise in culture change, involve everyone in your organization in the search of your top 5 characteristics for the position and in crafting a statement about why you exist.


Skip all the boring mumbo jumbo in your ad and speak to what you value and your purpose.


Do team interviewing.


Have the people who will count on this position do the interviewing. I’ve gone so far as to have the team select the candidate and make the offer. Whoever makes the offer will have the most influence over the new person’s onboarding. Engage and tantalize the applicant along the way by exposing them to this slower, more intentional team process.

You may be thinking - if we don’t make them the offer on the first interview, we’ll lose them to someone else. True - if you interview like everyone else.

Do behavior-based Interviewing.

The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. You can google behavior-based interviewing to learn more about this game-changing way of getting to know someone. Or, email me and I’ll send you some materials on it.


Reimagine your onboarding process.


It is said that a new employee decides in the first two weeks if they will be a long-term or short-term employee. They may even stay another year or two, but their decision was made in the first two weeks.


Onboarding should last at least 90 days. It doesn’t need to be the same intensity for that long- but it takes 90 days for you to see who they are, and for them to see who you are.


Imagine someone you love being dropped by themselves into a foreign country, and design your onboarding process around their opportunities to feel safe in the beginning- and more connected, interdependent and confident within 90 days.

I like to use the buddy system for the first 10 days. In other words, appoint them one person to be available at any time for the first 10 days- they should go on breaks together, be introduced to every person they come into contact with, and be their one go-to person until they feel a little more connected.


I also like the passport system, create a passport as if each page was a country that needed to be visited. The countries are the various departments and people that the new hire will need to know. Have the department head or person sign the page, and give them a little token from their department.


Facilitate this process.


You do not need to be the doer of all of this. Instead, be the inviter of it all. Keep inviting your current employees into this process, let them take the lead where they have energy and commitment. Keep calling people together to ideate, initiate strategies and measure the process on going. And celebrate every little success you have.

Sharing leadership also means sharing pain. This act dissolves the isolated feeling of you, the leader and them, the workers- both having to deal with short-handedness, but not connected to each other or to a plan to remediate the pain – together.


As far as I can tell, there is no silver bullet to the recruiting challenges of today, wherever you find yourself in this challenge, the possibility of a better future exists.

“The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The next best time is today.” Chinese Proverb

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