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How have you managed when you're setting the bar high, in the sense that you know what you need, but the talent pool in your area is so poor that it's unlikely anyone will make the grade?

I suppose the answer is to be more attractive to top tier client who will travel, but that's not really par for the course in restaurants.  Wages are low v the skill required, so most opt for the cities with big names & benefit from the prestige, rather than the salary. 

Any input on how I can be more attractive without pushing salaries up?  We offer market rate and company discounts, but I think I need to innovate a little on this.

mhackl's picture

In my experience, if you cannot hire the talent that you need, you have to grow it.

I focused on developing a training program that allowed employees to build the required skills in stages of achievement rather than simply throwing them in the fire and providing corrective instruction after the fact.
No one enjoys being corrected, even when it's being done nicely.

I found it to be a good exercise to write out an outline of the core skills required to perform the job at a high level, then dedicate a great deal of thought to the building blocks of each one of those skills, then build an achievement structure around that. If you have a veteran that handles the shop the way that you want, make them a mentor, but you really need to be the one coducting the training process. When you're conducting your training make sure to be as critical of yourself, and the process that you're providing, as those you're trying to train. If you're not getting the results you want, look inward. Be sure to provide positive reinforcement throughout the process. 

I read a book of HBR articles called HBR's 10 Must Reads on Managing Yourself. Within the first couple of pages I was struck by a quote attributed to Frederick Herzberg "True motivation comes from achievement, personal development, job satisfaction, and recognition." keeping this in mind has served me well both personally and professionally.

mrreliable's picture

I completely agree with mhackl.

With your comment "you know what you need but your talent pool is poor" my first thought was, "What are you gonna do now, coach?"

Teach 'em.

If there's not many people who display the talents you're looking for, I'd focus on finding people who are eager to learn. You said you know what you need. If you can teach it, look for the best students. If that's not your forte, find someone who can teach them, and help that person find the best students. Treat it like a sports team. I'd rather have a group of hungry motivated players any day over a group of entitled superstars, within reason of course.