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Incentives: Professional development

Resolved to attract and retain the best people as the industry begins to sputter back to life this year? Providing basic training, competitive pay and good benefits are no-brainers, but for employees with the drive and desire to do more and be more, professional development opportunities can really sweeten the deal. Here’s how some operators do it:

Casual dining chain Biaggi’s Ristorante Italiano includes in its leadership training initiative a “captains” program, in which two management shifts per week in both the kitchen and dining room are led by hourly employees. It’s designed, the company says, to both encourage and develop talent from within.

Caribou Coffee last spring launched a three-step Leadership Development Framework for corporate executives through district managers. Step one is Weekly Leadership Reflection. “Participants literally ‘unplug’ for an hour each week to reflect on what went on that week from a leadership perspective—what went well, what didn’t, how did they help their people, how did they not, and what they’re going to be doing differently next week,” says Alison Smith, director of organizational design and development. Step two is the “Bou Buddy” program, in which each leader is paired with a peer mentor or coach from a different region or a different discipline within the company. The buddies meet monthly to discuss how things are going, what their challenges are and to offer each other different perspectives and solutions. Step three is education. Participants may take courses through outside educational institutions and the company also offers a basic leadership training class, the Franklin Covey Great Leader

McDonald’s workers in Britain can now earn a two-year degree in Managing Business Operations. The new program, developed with and accredited by the Manchester Metro-politan University in London, is taught by a combination of classroom study, e-learning and workplace training. Courses focus on people management, operations management, managing a restaurant, business finance, marketing and “all the things that you’d expect to need to know about if you’re going to manage a restaurant and, indeed, run a business,” according to Dr. Sue Shaw, of the Manchester Metropolitan Business School.

Under the umbrella of “Butterburger University,” Culver’s provides e-learning, workshops and workbook courses to help team members move up through the organization. One of the company’s newest professional development workshops targets managing multiple restaurant locations, says Paul Pitas, director of PR and communications.

Can’t go it alone?
Want to provide professional development opportunities but just can’t swing internal initiatives on your own? There’s still a lot you can offer. Check out educational programs through restaurant associations and at distributor food shows. Tap business and management-oriented development opportunities provided through local business groups and chambers of commerce. And take advantage of industry organizations that make effective, affordable opportunities available. Among them:

  • American Culinary Federation (www.acfchefs.org)
  • CIA ProChef (www.ciaprochef.com)
  • Multicultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance (www.mfha.net)
  • National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (www.nraef.org)
  • Women’s Foodservice Forum (www.womensfoodserviceforum.com)

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