Articles Review myriad of ingredients go into the stew that is successful food and beverage service, including: good equipment, good location, excellent product, pleasant atmosphere, quality middle-level management, forward-thinking administration-level hierarchy, and sincere / consistent customer service. And moreover, a vitally essential component which completes the recipe for food and beverage success is a terrific staff, which springs from the planning that goes into finding talent, followed by the training and maintenance of staff excellence through intelligent processes. This paper reviews those issues, and the research which delves into how notably competent HR and hands-on management can bring - and keep - high-caliber employees on board successfully.
Article #1: "How the achievement of human-resources goals drives restaurant performance," by Daniel J. Koys, Cornell Hotel & Restaurant Administration Quarterly
Attitude" has a different meaning in the 21st Century than it did in previous years. To often today, it means something like, having a chip on one's shoulder, or being pushy. Meantime, for the purposes of this research article, the "attitude" that management expects from employees - which has everything to do with the success - is the 4th definition of "attitude" on Merriam-Webster's Web page: a) "a mental position with regard to a fact or state"; b) "a feeling or emotion toward a fact or state."
What, according to Koys, leads to customer satisfaction? "...Employees' high functioning and favorable attitudes lead to customer satisfaction, loyalty, and a perception of value." And those customer attitudes, derived from employee attitudes, "lead to company profits and growth." This concept, Koys notes, results from the "service-profit chain" concept - which results not from sociological and psychological theorists, but from data collected, which found a "relationship between employees' perceived ability; employees' satisfaction, and employees' length of service on one hand, and customer satisfaction on the other."
The study alluded to above, which led to the "service-profit chain" was conducted by the National Restaurant Association (NRA). Meanwhile, Sears did an interesting study - in 800 of its stores - analyzing the "employee-customer-profit" chain; results showed "employees' attitudes about Sears and about their jobs led to positive behavior toward customers," Koys reports. And, just as in the NRA study, an improvement in employees' attitudes led to an improvement in the growth of revenue - all springing from more satisfied customers.
In continuing to develop his theme - satisfied employees translate to satisfied customers which translates to profits - Koys also discusses a logical yet innovative concept developed by Dennis Organ, called "Organizational Citizenship" (OC). Basically, OC is "going beyond the call of duty, and being nice about it." OC is not an "enforceable requirement" of one's job, but rather a matter of "personal choice," and clearly, employers should look for the kinds of people who show aptitude for the canons of OC. Organ's five dimensions of OC behavior include the following: conscientiousness (performance beyond minimum requirements); altruism (helping others); civic virtue (responsibility for participating in the political life of the company); sportsmanship (not complaining; keeping positive attitudes); and courtesy (respecting each other).
And, why would management go to great lengths to find talent that meets Organizational Citizenship criteria?
Because people that don't exhibit the strengths that OC calls for, will leave, or be fired - and turnover is not at all a good thing for a restaurant, for these reasons: a) turnover negatively influences company performance; b) turnover increases separation costs, replacements costs, and training costs; c) turnover brings inexperienced employees on board, who make mistakes that cause customers to be unhappy. Furthermore, Koys cites two studies related to turnover: one found that "the cost of turnover for a front-desk employee at a hotel was about 30% of salary," and the other reported that the per-employee cost of turnover was almost "$5,000 for a typical employee in a typical hotel."
Statistically, Koys points out, behavior studies show the relationship between Organizational Citizenship behavior "in year one and financial performance in year two..." explains 19% of the positive variance in financial performance in year two. Simply stated, profits increased by about 19% because management hired and trained people that lived up to OC standards.
Article #2: "Hospitality-management Competencies," by Christine Kay & John Russette, Cornell Hotel & Restaurant Administration Quarterly
What specific competencies should executives look for, and expect, in an applicant for a general manager's (GM) position - or management trainees' slots - in food and beverage in a hotel-restaurant environment? The authors of this article discuss and consolidate three "landmark studies" - (Tas, Pkeiyi, Sandwith) - which offer a considerable body of knowledge "on hospitality graduates' requisite exit competencies was amassed during the past dozen years..." The reason for the research into the existing studies, say the authors, was because, "Some hospitality educators...have questioned whether hotel-management programs are preparing...students adequately."
One example they cite is a study which assessed graduates based on their "preparedness to fulfill industry's needs" indicated that academic programs "fall short" in the area of preparing students with "leadership and interpersonal skills." Indeed, a separate inquiry determined that "over half" of master's degree grads gained their leadership and interpersonal skills outside their management courses.
Meanwhile, the authors' own study (using the available, above-mentioned research) was based on rating essential competencies that management sees as crucial abilities in applicants. The study utilized 20 members of the Palm Beach County Hotel and Motel Association - those members specifically whose properties had 100 or more guest rooms, and 100 or more employees. Through extensive interviews and research with existing management at all levels in the 20 hotels, the authors identified 86 essential competencies (ECs) which executives and other management people say are pivotal to a good hotel-restaurant manager; 55 of those ECs were important to more than one functional area; of those fifty-five, 18 competencies were critical for all five "combinations of functional area and management level" tasks. The five combinations of functional areas of skills are: conceptual-creative; leadership; interpersonal; administrative, and technical.
Their further findings indicated that thirty-seven of the ECs "fell across all five domains." A greater number of those competencies were identified for middle-level front-desk and sales managers than for food and beverage managers, which suggests that entry-level F&B managers "are expected to perform comparably to their middle-management counterparts," the authors say.
What does it all mean? To boil it down, "leadership" competencies represented the majority of skills designated. And more often than not, "leadership and interpersonal" ECs were identified as being "essential" to more than one functional area / management level of the hotel-restaurant business.
Evaluation and Discussion
In these times of slow economic growth, partly resulting from threats of terror, and also because of an apparent dearth of fresh ideas for job-stimulation emerging from national leadership (executive and legislative branches), it would seem that employers have a bumper crop of unemployed people to select from - people with college degrees who have been laid off, "downsized," or otherwise squeezed out of jobs they were trained for. Many of these people, studies show, are extremely trainable and willing to adapt to a new job culture. Hence, it should be a "buyer's market" in terms of available talent for employers to evaluate / hire.
With that in mind, it's worth paraphrasing Koys' bullet points, and every alert, bright, upwardly-mobile restaurant manager should keep these 12 canons in bold print near his or her desk. Because, managers can become "employers of choice," Koys says, and control turnover, by encouraging Organizational Citizenship. Here are the canons: 1) Hire conscientious workers by finding out whether applicants have performed beyond minimum in previous employment; 2) Keep morale at a high level; studies show high morale "goes along with high OC," and the way to keep high morale is to "treat all employees fairly, regardless of race, sex, color, creed or national origin"; 3) give pay raises partially based "on conscientious performance, helping behavior, and responsible participation in decision-making"; 4) foster a sense of identity among employees; encourage interaction at work; 5) support employees by being a strong leader and setting high performance expectations; 6) foster job security by assuring workers they will not be dismissed for only for "just cause"; 7) hire selectively; 8) utilize "self-managed work teams" that are accountable for their own results; 9) train extensively; most people enjoy improving themselves; 10) pay well; 11) reduce barriers of "status" between employees and management; and 12) share company financial information with employees.
Article #2, while showing some interesting statistics, is far too academic and numbers-devoted to really be meaningful to management. One can study essential competencies until even the most banal of job titles is covered ten times over; but successful, profitable food and beverage businesses, whether in hotels or standing alone, must have good standards for hiring, training, and keeping quality staff. That's why Article #1 is so meaningful and pertinent, particularly to these times of terrorism and economic sluggishness.
This writer worked in a hotel restaurant / bar for 4 years, and each year, management required all employees…