A manager with strong leadership abilities communicates goals, maximizes systems, and motivates their team toward optimal performance. Restaurant managers hold one of the farthest-reaching positions in an entire restaurant company that impacts guests and team members. With a shallow labor pool and declining quit rates restaurants must pay close attention to recruiting strong leaders and retaining them through ongoing development. Let's explore how evidence-driven assessments for restaurant managers make this happen.
Hiring and Developing Restaurant Leaders to Your Culture and Standards
Staying fully staffed and fully trained with strong restaurant managers is crucial for the success of any restaurant. We like to illustrate this with the key results map.
These key stakeholders play a vital role in managing the daily operations, ensuring guest/customer satisfaction, and driving profitability. Ultimately they are responsible for consistently executing the intended guest/customer experience, maintaining quality standards, driving sales and revenue, and (last but most definitely not least) earning the trust and commitment of their teams. Without strong leaders supporting the restaurant's particular culture and brand risk wobbling to mediocrity.
One of the strongest predictors of success, financially or otherwise, is enduring strong management at the unit, or restaurant, level. Although quit rates began declining in late 2023, building a talent pipeline is still critical. This means providing all levels of leadership with opportunities to enhance their skills and knowledge, so they are energized and technically ready to take on the next role. Assessments uncover these areas directing training, teaching, and coaching at both a person and group-to-organizational level.
For multi-unit restaurants, how can you be confident that the guest and team experiences are delivered consistently from your most tenured restaurant to your newest? Answer: shared standards for how you attract, hire, develop, and promote restaurant leaders. Assessments as part of the process for hiring, promoting, and developing leaders quantify what's hard to define and bring clarity across decision-makers.
In our engagement and retention surveys, opportunities for development (not just advancement) are continually one of the top three drivers of engagement and retention; any effort in this area will pay multiple dividends. Developing leaders from within not only provides stability but also builds culture while reducing costs. Again, assessments are realistic ways to provide scalable opportunities for growth.
In short, a systematic process for hiring and developing restaurant leaders supports all aspects of the business. Just as leaning into systems and processes drives efficiency and results for operations the same is true for how you hire, promote, and develop.
Types of Validated Assessments for Restaurant Leaders
Validated assessments come in many flavors. While there are a myriad of ways to categorize assessments, we think of four main categories.
With over 100 years of scientific inquiry around personality (and Corvirtus' four decades of experience in the industry) there's meaningful evidence of what enduring traits drive leadership success in a restaurant environment. Our team of industrial and organizational psychologists, for example, have found three unique qualities that set successful restaurant leaders apart from those in other industries.
Curiosity and Open-Mindedness. The fast pace and human-centeredness of the restaurant industry means successful managers and leaders embrace flexibility.
Confidence and Influence. Restaurants employ teams across a broad range of demographics and new team members are counted upon quickly. This means leaders must be comfortable with training, influencing, and navigating difficult interpersonal situations when called upon.
Positivity and Resilience. Working in an operations-focused environment means successful restaurant managers are optimistic. They find satisfaction in serving and taking care of others: whether it's delighting a guest, developing a team member, or building a beneficial relationship with a vendor.
Our assessments for restaurant leaders are capable of focusing on these core qualities leading to a streamlined assessment that candidates find job-relevant, fair, and engaging.
Clearly, your enterprise, culture, and intended guest experience are unique. When we work with restaurants to build or select an assessment, we seek to understand your operations often consulting existing data to determine what drives retention and performance.
Values and Culture
That leads to our next category: your mission, beliefs about success, and how you achieve it. What if there were a way to sell, educate, and screen candidates on your values, culture, and even key aspects of your operations that can make or break a new hire?
In the past couple years, we've deepened our wheelhouse of situational assessments that place candidates directly in key scenarios that embody your values and measure potential to bring your vision to life.
Ability assessments measure candidates' knack for problem-solving, quick learning, and mental horsepower. You know, the kind of brainpower that gets the job done. Corvirtus tests ask potential restaurant managers to evaluate financial information, reports, and emails to gauge their potential. Because the restaurant industry is tremendously inclusive and provides the opportunity for people of all levels of education to advance, leaders often raise concerns about including a measure of learning, problem-solving, or cognitive ability.
This is precisely why it's helpful to measure these abilities. The wide-ranging strengths and abilities of potential leaders mean a test of problem-solving provides a level playing field. When built for reliability and validity, cognitive ability tests are perceived as job-related and fair by candidates while providing an objective means to evaluate potential. Cognitive ability and problem-solving affect performance in the following core areas (to name a few) -
- Learning your processes and systems
- Responding to change
- Driving results and making the right calls in an environment with ever-shifting challenges
- Determining the root cause of a problem and resolving it (instead of its symptoms)
- Making sense of financial and quantitative information
Situational assessments toss candidates into job-relevant situations based on critical incidents, giving us a glimpse into how they handle the heat. And here's the best part – we can mix and match different tests to create unique batteries tailored for specific positions or job groups. A battery may present candidates with the opportunity to:
- Review a financial statement
- Recover a disappointed guest
- Coach a new team member
Situational intersects with all the categories mentioned. In addition, we partner with restaurant leaders to build tools unique to your culture and operations that give candidates a realistic preview of your culture, expectations, and challenges they'll likely encounter if they choose the role. These assessments provide real time feedback for candidates and incumbents making them a scalable part of hiring, promotion, or development.
Succession Planning: Building a Pipeline for Growth
Succession planning requires a system for identifying and nurturing potential leaders within the organization who can fill key roles in the future. By proactively planning for leadership transitions, restaurants can ensure continuity, driving that key results map we shared earlier.
To share some background, we've partnered with restaurant organizations to build pipelines for growth that use assessments to jumpstart coaching and mentoring programs. Assessment results guide leadership development experiences with assessment feedback providing the opportunity for reflection, awareness of unseen areas of strength and vulnerability, and shared plans for growth. These experiences help identify high-potential employees and provide them with the necessary skills and awareness to take on leadership roles.
Impact on leaders in Corvirtus leadership programs -
- 83% would recommend the development opportunity to others to support their growth
- 87% learned practical information and skills that supported success in their role
- 94% look forward to future skill and leadership development experiences with the organization
Assessments are invaluable here because we can't arrive at our destination if we don't know where we are on the journey. In addition to the assessments we shared earlier, performance feedback like 360s and performance reviews, effective succession planning requires consistent performance feedback. With regular participant and supervisor performance feedback and consistent development discussions, restaurants can identify areas for improvement and provide targeted training and development opportunities for the individual and at scale. This ongoing feedback and support ensures that leaders are continuously growing and evolving to meet the ever evolving needs of the business.
In sum, validated assessments are meaningful tools for succession planning. Assessment experiences (like an assessment center or experiential assessment) as well as ready-to-implement psychometric tools, can work together to build a pipeline for growth in the industry. By identifying and developing potential leaders, restaurants can forecast their bench strength and take proactive steps to build and fortify leadership.
Assessments for developing and growing your leadership pipeline
In addition to using validated assessments in the hiring process, implementing development assessments for existing leaders is crucial for their growth and success. Development assessments provide valuable feedback and insights into leaders' strengths, areas for improvement, and development needs.
These assessments can be conducted through various methods, such as 360-degree feedback, performance evaluations, and leadership competency assessments. By gathering feedback from multiple sources, including superiors, peers, and subordinates, restaurants can gain a comprehensive understanding of leaders' performance and impact on the organization.
Development assessments help identify leaders' development needs and areas where they can enhance their skills and capabilities. Based on the assessment results, restaurants can design targeted development plans and provide relevant training and coaching to support leaders' growth. These assessments also serve as a tool for ongoing performance management and can be used to track leaders' progress over time.
In conclusion, implementing development assessments for existing leaders is essential for their growth and success. These assessments provide valuable feedback and insights that can guide targeted development efforts and support leaders' ongoing professional growth.
Building Stronger Restaurant Managers and Culture with Hiring Assessments
Using assessments to guide your external hiring process for restaurant leaders helps answer a few key questions:
One of the key strategies for hiring top-notch restaurant leaders is utilizing validated assessments in the hiring process. These assessments provide objective and reliable information about candidates' skills, abilities, and fit for the role.
Validated assessments, such as personality assessments, cognitive ability tests, and situational judgment tests, have been scientifically designed and tested to predict job performance. By incorporating these assessments into the hiring process, restaurants can ensure that they are selecting candidates who possess the necessary traits and capabilities to succeed in leadership roles.
These assessments can help identify candidates who have the right mix of leadership skills, problem-solving abilities, and customer service orientation. They provide valuable insights into a candidate's potential for success in the restaurant industry. By using validated assessments, restaurants can make more informed hiring decisions and reduce the risk of selecting candidates who may not be a good fit for the role or the organization.
In summary, utilizing validated assessments in the hiring process is a best practice for selecting top-notch restaurant leaders. These assessments provide objective and reliable information about candidates' potential for success and help restaurants make more informed hiring decisions.
Accelerate Results by Blending Assessments with Interviewing
Interviews are the center of your hiring process. When structured, and intentionally built, they are a critical component of selecting the right restaurant leaders. We share more what makes an interview process structured here. These processes involve using a standardized set of questions and evaluation criteria to assess candidates' qualifications, skills, and fit for the role.
By using structured interviews informed by assessment results, restaurants can ensure a fair and consistent evaluation of candidates. This approach focuses your attention on the competencies that matter while minimizing subjectivity. Further, management hiring and promotion decisions usually aren't made by one person alone. Just as having standard operating procedures in the kitchen and other areas of the business saves time and builds shared understanding, a structured hiring process with a plan in place for assessments and interviews in the selection process and increases the validity and reliability of hiring decisions. Structured interviews also allow for better comparison of candidates and enable hiring managers to make more informed decisions.
To conduct structured interviews, restaurants develop a set of job-related questions that assess candidates' knowledge, skills, and abilities. These questions should be based on the requirements of the leadership role and the core competencies needed for success. Additionally, interviewers should have a clear evaluation rubric that outlines the desired responses and rating scales for each question.
By implementing structured interview processes, restaurants know they are selecting candidates who possess the necessary skills, competencies, and ability to live and strengthen the culture for the restaurant leadership role. This approach increases the odds of hiring, and retaining, leaders who will excel in their positions and contribute to the overall success of the restaurant and organization at large.
In short, implementing structured interview processes designed for your restaurant management roles is a best practice for selecting restaurant leaders. These processes ensure a fair and consistent evaluation of candidates and increase the validity and reliability of hiring decisions.
Validated Assessments: The Recipe for Success in Restaurant Leadership
As we reach the end of our tour of assessments and their role in hiring and developing restaurant leaders, it's clear that the ingredients for success in this remarkably diverse industry are multifaceted. We cannot understate the undeniable importance of strong leadership in restaurants – a role that extends far beyond managing daily operations to shaping the very essence of the guest and team experience.
In the world of restaurant management, the stakes are high and the challenges are unique. Your environment is ever-evolving, with shifting consumer preferences, technological advancements, and the constant need to innovate while maintaining the core values and culture that define each establishment. In this context, the role of a restaurant manager transcends traditional boundaries, becoming a blend of strategist, mentor, brand ambassador, and operational wizard.
The key takeaway from our discussion is the transformative power of evidence-driven assessments in identifying and nurturing these multifaceted leaders. These tools are not just about filling a position; they are about finding and fostering talent that resonates with your restaurant's culture, values, and long-term vision. When selected and implemented effectively, they offer a scientific, data-driven approach to understanding the unique qualities that make a successful restaurant leader – from the ability to inspire and motivate teams to the resilience and adaptability needed to thrive in a high-pressure environment.
But let's not forget the human element in all of this. The art of leadership in the restaurant industry is deeply rooted in the ability to connect with people – guests, team members, and the community. It's about creating an environment where everyone feels competent, confident, and a sense of belonging. This is where the true magic happens, and it's something that can't be measured in numbers alone.
As we conclude, remember that the journey to excellence in restaurant leadership is ongoing. It's about continuous learning, adapting, and growing. It's about being open to new ideas and approaches while staying true to the core values that define your brand. And most importantly, it's about the people – the leaders who bring your vision to life every day.
In the end, the success of a restaurant hinges not just on the quality of its food or the ambiance of its setting, but on the strength and character of its leaders. They are the ones who turn challenges into opportunities, who inspire teams to exceed expectations, and who create memorable experiences for every guest who walks through the door.
So, as you embark on this journey of hiring and developing the next generation of restaurant leaders, remember that you're not just filling a role – you're shaping the future of your restaurant. And with the right tools, insights, and approach, you're well on your way to creating a legacy of excellence that will resonate for years to come.
Here's to the next chapter in the story of your restaurant's success!