Be the leader you would want.

I am curious as to which of the two job board ads you would apply to.

Job Opening No. 1

We are a people-first company that prides itself on providing a positive culture where we attract the best talent in the industry. We offer a very generous compensation package, paying top salaries in the industry and offering medical, dental, vision, four-weeks vacation first year, and profit sharing because we believe in taking care of our people. We value our people because we view them as vital assets of our company. We offer ongoing training to help them achieve not only success for the company but their own personal and professional goals. We believe in work/life balance and strive to keep you at a 40-hour work week. Because of our people-centric values we attract and retain the best people in our industry. If you would like to work with top talent, in a positive environment that fosters your personal growth and success, we would love to talk with you. Please send your resume so that we can meet to discuss joining our dynamic team.

Or:

Job Opening No. 2

Want to join a negative company where top management treats you like crap? Want to work with other people who complain about how we treat you? We promise to under pay you, break all promises we make, overwork you, and offer no benefits until your fifth year. We won’t ever lead by example frankly because we don’t have to. Our culture is based on “do what I say, not what I do.” We won’t invest in your development because we know you will leave us for something better after you are properly trained. If you are dumb enough to think we will actually care about you then you are just the person we are looking for. Send your resume. We will get back to you at some point. Maybe.

Obviously, no one in their right mind would EVER think to apply to the second job opening. Likewise, no company would ever write a job description like that one. But that’s not what happens.

EVERYONE writes a job description like the first job opening. EVERYONE claims they are a great company with amazing culture, great working environment, and proper compensation. The problem isn’t that companies don’t write attractive copy when it comes to trying to attract people.

The problem is very few companies live up to their job description. Worse yet, once the employee is hired, they receive some BS employee handbook talking about the great culture they have. And for a few months, it may even appear that this company is exactly what you were looking for. But then, it happens. The company leadership begins to show their true colors. Your blinders come off and you see that all those great things you read in the job description and in the employee handbook were just smoke and mirrors to suck you in to fill a position needed.

Humbly, I can say, I’ve been fooled. There are about four companies I worked for that were absolutely amazing. I have very fond memories of my time working with my bosses and my team. There were a few more that like most companies were pretty good. But I’ve also joined a few companies that really sucked.

There are some amazing leaders out there in our industry and my column this week isn’t meant to be a bash on companies or bosses. Again, I’ve had some amazing experiences. Enough of them for me to know what a job should feel like. However, most companies and their leaders don’t live up to the hype of the propaganda used to attract people.

And here in lies the rub. Those companies may attract great people but they will never retain them. This is because they over-promised and under-delivered. It’s really hard to live up to the promise of the first job posting. It takes tremendous focus and commitment every day and every situation to become the employer of choice—the company that somehow retains their people with great success.

Last week, I wrote in Shift Happens about stacking wins on wins to be successful. I’m here to say, you can’t do that if you can’t retain great people. It’s amazing how many restaurateurs I speak with that struggle with finding, attracting, and keeping great people. The reality is it’s not a LABOR shortage, it’s a LEADER shortage. One of the things I do as a restaurant executive coach is help restaurant owners become great leaders of companies that great people run to join. You can do it. You have to do it! I know you can. Be the leader you would want. Run the company everyone wants to work at. Do that and you will be wildly successful.

Editor’s note: This is the 23rd article in a new column from restaurant expert Monte Silva. More on the series can be found here. The first story, on Why Underpaying Restaurant Employees is a Recipe for Disaster, is here. The second, on Why Marketing is Not Expensive, is here. The third, on people-centric leadership, is here. The fourth, on Why Working 70-Hour Weeks in Your Restaurant is Not the Answer, is here. The fifth, on How to Provide Hospitality in a High-Tech, Low-Touch World, is here. The sixth, on ‘The Convertible Culture’ in Restaurants, is here. The seventh, on Why the Old P&L Model Has Set Restaurants Up for Failure,’ is here. The eighth, on How to Scale Your Restaurant Business When There is Only One of You, is here. The ninth article, The Secret to Finding and Keeping Great Employees is Not Difficult, is here. The 10th, What Culture Do You Really Want at Your Restaurant?, is here. The 11th, on Your Restaurant Should Serve People, Not Product, is here. The 12th, on Don’t Let Shiny New Toys Distract Your Restaurant from What’s Most Important, is here. The the 13th, on Why Restaurant Value Shouldn’t Be Based on Price, is here. The 14th, on The Case for Hyper-Focused Menus, is here. The 15th, This is How Your Restaurant Will Survive Beyond 3 Years, is here. The 16th, on The Difference Between a Restaurant Coach and Consultant, is here. The 17th, What is a Restaurant Tech Stack, and How Do You Know if You Built the Right One? is here. The 18th, You Can’t Make Someone Accountable if You Haven’t Made Them Responsible, is here. The 19th, Memo to Restaurants: Service and Hospitality are Not the Same Thing, is here. The 20th, Why a Penny Saved in a Restaurant is Not Always a Penny Earned, is here. The 21st, on Why You’re Never Too Old for Greatness, is here. And the 22nd, Why Consistency is the Only Way to Keep Your Restaurant Open, is here.

Expert Takes, Feature, Labor & Employees, Leader Insights