Darryl Reginelli Expo Exclusive 2012

Reginelli

Please accept this letter as my notice of resignation effective September 20. I thank you for giving me an opportunity to work with such a great business and outstanding fellow employees. — Robert

Robert was hired for an assistant manager position at one of our Reginelli’s Pizzeria locations on April 18. Three interviews, four reference checks, eight weeks of training and thousands of dollars in payroll expenses later — and this is what we get? Two sentences sent via Blackberry saying, in effect, “Thanks, but no thanks.” Just four months in and he is done. How could it have come to this? Sometimes we fail to make a connection.

There is certainly a place for interviews and background checks when attempting to screen applicants. Obviously, you can’t waste your time and money on someone who lacks the experience, skills and energy level that the position you are offering demands. But the fact is if the candidate you have carefully chosen doesn’t share your company values, or that person doesn’t feel a long-term connection to your business, you might as well start prepping their termination form.

We try to avoid that situation as often as possible, and we’ve developed strategies that improve our chances of making good hiring decisions. Here are a few truths I’ve learned on the way to staffing our Reginelli’s Pizzeria units:

• In any strong relationship, personalities can be different, but personal values must be similar in order to have a successful outcome. Understanding your applicant’s values is important when deciding who has the potential to be a long-term match. Are they opportunistic or just looking for stability? Are their goals based on pride or financial success? Do they even have goals at all? Using the interview process to figure this out is a task easier said than done. However, there are definitely ways to cut through the hot air and find out who is behind the spell-checked, perfectly formatted resume.

• Your best bet at getting the most nitty-gritty out of a 45-minute first meeting is to avoid “interview mode” at all costs. You can maintain your professionalism without being overly formal. Once you’ve made your applicant comfortable with some small talk, he or she is more likely to approach the interview like a casual conversation with an old friend. Avoid taking notes until the end so that you maintain a comfortable tone; if necessary, just jot down some key words or phrases as a reminder.

• Don’t hesitate to take the opportunity to find out what you really want to know. How do they really feel about former workplaces and positions? Why haven’t their work histories been longer at other jobs? Although you need to be cautious with the limits of the type of questions you can ask during an interview, sometimes you need to go for the questions that put a candidate in the hot seat for a minute. Once you gained their trust, interviewees generally will be pretty forthcoming with information. Don’t hold back your questions in an interview if things aren’t adding up—your hiring decision becomes clearer the deeper you dig.

• Once you’ve covered all of your bases in the interview process, use a systematic approach to measure where your candidate stands in relation to your company values. At Reginelli’s Pizzeria, our hiring managers use a scoring chart on which points can be awarded or taken away in several categories. After gathering information through conversation, our hiring managers score applicants on appearance, sincerity, confidence, leadership style, job loyalty and other factors. For example, we generally look for a candidate who is dressed casually but professionally—it shows that the applicant has an understanding of our company’s culture. Overdressed candidates actually score lower on our chart because they present themselves as less of a match for our company.

• After a hiring decision is made, the employer is responsible for fostering an environment that gets the new hire connected to the company and turns that employee into a “keeper.” This is most easily done through clear, honest communication and support. A system of performance reviews that measure all applicable skills and traits should be used. Don’t just talk to your employees about their performance. Instead, give them a typed or written review that can be discussed together and kept by them for reference. You’ll find that your employees will value their reviews, good and bad, because their superiors took time to think about their future.

• Putting your trust in employees who share your company values helps them feel empowered and connected, and gives them the drive to continue to grow and develop with you. Show them what is important to you and don’t be afraid to let them show others. “Keepers” become key staff member whose skills prove even more relevant than some of your own. Don’t shy away from giving your key staff preferential treatment. Create titles and job descriptions that offer the ability for your hard-working employees to stand out among their peers.

• Build a culture beyond the walls of your restaurant. Everyone wants to be part of something greater. Eventually, the job will become routine. Even your best employees will need a deeper connection to their work. Integrate your business into the community. Donating product, time and staff to local organizations and events benefits everyone involved. It’s something your staff will be proud of and it will set your business apart from others.

See Darryl Reginelli at Pizza Expo / Click Here to Register for Expo
Founding partner of eight-unit Reginelli’s Pizzeria, based in New Orleans, Darryl Reginelli will go into further depth about his employee hiring and retention efforts in two seminars at Pizza Expo 2012.