I am personally a BIG FAN of Jim Sullivan – and my copy of his book ‘Mind Your Own’ Business is dog-eard from over use…
?America?s most underutilized resource is recognition.?
– Dick Kocenivich, Wells Fargo
Using employee incentives, contests, recognition and rewards is commonplace in our industry. But even the best intentions can cause indifferent results if your incentive ideas don?t resonate with the team you?re trying to inspire to perform better. Over the last five years, I?ve had the pleasure of designing and implementing employee and manager incentive and recognition programs for over two dozen of the Top 100 restaurant chains and thought I?d share a few basic guidelines and creative ideas you can use to measure, incent and recognize improved performance among your hourly and management team.
Recognition is Different than Incentives.
The first step is to clarify the difference between employee recognition and employee incentives. Both you and your team need to understand how incentives and recognition differ in order to reap the benefits of both. Incentives are usually rewards that are promised in advance of a desired action; a bonus for exceeding a service goal on Mystery Shops, or exceeding a check average sales goal by 5 percent, for example. Recognition, while it may also be financial, is an after-the-fact event. Recognition is often in the form of a reward, but should always include praise, either public or private when it happens. In other words, if you see it, say it.
Is Cash King? I?ve never been a big fan of awarding small cash rewards as a prize, because it has no ?trophy? value, but the fact is that it does resonate with many servers as an incentive. If you do choose this route, my suggestion is that you don?t use traditional bills when you give cash rewards for outstanding effort. If you hand a team member a $20 bill as a gesture of gratitude, the emotional buzz lasts anywhere from 12 to 15 seconds. The cash goes into a wallet and, effectively, disappears. Instead, give cash in two-dollar bills ? servers or cooks will remember where these came from each time they spend one.
Gift Certificates. Gift certificates can make a longer-lasting impression than cash for hourly employees in my opinion. The special trip the employee makes to the CD, video or department store or to attend an event (concerts, sporting game, festivals) reinforces your appreciation and thanks. And gift certificates can be cost-effective if you exchange your restaurant?s gift certificates for other GCs from local supermarkets, multimedia, or clothing stores. Avoid awarding GCs from your restaurant as prizes.
Experience Certificates. Laura Bell Way, a manager with Olsen Incentives in San Francisco, points out a new incentives trend: experience certificates. Instead of gift certificates, reward performers with vouchers from ski schools, golf schools, spa retreats, backpacking excursion groups, and racecar driving schools.
Reward employees seven days a week. Want to surprise and reward your workers at the same time? Susan Lundine, in the Orlando Business Journal, suggests trying the Olive Garden approach. She reports that the popular restaurant chain once surprised top workers by sending them a different reward every day for seven straight days. One day, workers received a letter of congratulations from top managers; the next day they received chocolate; then movie tickets; restaurant gift certificates; CDs; denim shirts; and, finally, wristwatches
Include your employees in the nominating process.
You can?t be everywhere. ?Listen to your employees,? says Williamsport, PA restaurant manager Bob Snyder, ?and give them the authority to nominate their fellow servers, bussers or cooks for recognition, or to recognize their colleagues themselves without having to go through managers. Don?t presume it will happen without your promoting it.?
Recognize employees who talk up your company. Recognize people not only for their performance, but also pay attention to what they say about your restaurant when they?re not at work. If your employees promote the company?s image and reputation by publishing articles in trade publications, make presentations at restaurant shows, or writes a simple letter to the editor of the local newspaper touting your restaurant, be sure to recognize that fact. If you?re lucky, you?ll find more employees working hard to spread the good name of your organization to others.
Variety is the Spice of Life. Boston Pizza training director Shannon Washbrook points out that one of the most cost-effective and fun rewards is merely ordering in food that your restaurant doesn?t serve as an employee meal. For instance, Boston Pizza managers often order in Chinese food after a busy lunch rush, or send out for staff Slurpies from the local convenience staff. ?The little things mean a lot,? Shannon says.
What?s your appreciation ratio? And finally, understand that recognition is a philosophy, not a program. Everyday in your Daytimer, or ?to-do? list, write down the name of each employee working that shift. After you compliment or recognize each team member, cross their name off the list. In these days of triple digit turnover ratios, this task is as critical as anything else you accomplish that shift.
Bottom line? You get more than you give when you give more than you get, and don?t forget: a pat on the back is just a few vertebrae up from a kick in the ass.
by Jim Sullivan
Copyright 2003 Sullivision.com