Harden’s Insider: How to be a good boss

In this article, The Sustainable Restaurant Association explores how you can nurture career development for your employees, encouraging longevity and making the hospitality sector an appealing place to build a career. 

Create a great place to work 

It should go without saying that, if you want to keep staff with you in the long term, you need to create a work environment where they feel safe, valued and respected. The days of hospitality work being synonymous with burnout and bullying are gone; your role as a manager is to safeguard your team members’ physical and mental wellbeing so that they can be their best, most engaged and creative selves.  

Find out what makes them tick 

From the moment you hire someone, make an effort to understand their strengths, their values and what they enjoy about their work. Progression within hospitality doesn’t have to be linear; with the right support, guidance and training, there’s no reason why that bartender can’t end up as a procurement manager or as Head of HR. Pay attention to who your people are and what’s going to keep them interested in the long term. 

Define career paths  

Mapping out individual career paths with your employees is an important part of retaining talent, since it shows them exactly where they can go and what they can accomplish. This helps employees feel valued – and therefore motivated to work harder, learn new skills and step up to new challenges. Allocate time to learning how and where your employees want to grow, working together to develop career paths and set their course. These should include short- and long-term goals as well as incentives for achieving these, providing encouraging milestones along the way. 

Set annual (at least) reviews with clear direction and measurable goals 

Schedule regular reviews with each employee; this allows managers to track progress, realign goals where necessary and ask for feedback on how they can better support team members in their development. 

Revisit your organisational structure if necessary 

Make sure that your company structure can provide an environment where career progression is nurtured. Put in some time to plotting out new roles that may emerge as your employees and your business continue to grow, and be prepared for this to evolve over time. Build potential career paths for each role, factoring in both vertical and horizontal movements that can support advancement.  

Build purpose into roles 

Where people feel like their work is making a difference, they feel more engaged, more motivated and more likely to stay for longer. Here’s where your restaurant’s sustainability work can play a big role: make sure your employees can get involved, no matter what level they are or what job they do. Involve them in creative problem-solving when it comes to practical initiatives like cutting down food waste or reducing energy use. Community and charity work and team volunteer days are other great ways to inspire and motivate.  

Offer great training and development programmes 

Creating a culture of learning and growth encourages employees to try new things, learn more skills, gain experience in other job functions, network with industry peers and develop into well-rounded hospitality professionals. Regularly check in with your teams to see what training options they need and want.This can include in-house mentoring and shadowing programmes as well as externally-run workshops, courses and opportunities for further education.  

Promote from within wherever possible 

Fostering a culture where employees are properly trained and coached in how to be future leaders makes good business sense. Internal candidates already know the people they are going to manage and understand your company culture and what’s expected, saving you valuable time and money that would otherwise be spent on induction and training. 

Pay your people well 

Never lose sight of the fact that the main reason people come to work every day is for the money – and that replacing good people is more expensive than paying them enough to begin with.  

Conduct exit interviews 

A piece of the puzzle that is so often missed, exit interviews are a goldmine of valuable insights into where you may have gone wrong and where you can improve. When staff do leave, don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions: this is your chance to keep doing better. 

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