HR in Restaurants Sessions Promote Leading, Training During Tough Times

  • HR in Hospitality™
  • 11.17.08
The 3rd Annual National HR in Hospitality™ Conference (, to be held March 17-19, 2009, at Disney’s Contemporary Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., will feature six HR in Restaurants educational sessions focusing on leading courageously during tough times, building employee and customer loyalty, and using on-demand technology for training and developing best people practices.

The event is produced by Human Resource Executive® Conferences and is developed and co-sponsored by the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration and the Cornell University ILR School. The American Hotel & Lodging Association is a platinum sponsor of HR in Hospitality™.

The HR in Restaurants track includes:

  • "Leading Courageously Through Tough Times"
  • "Leadership Lessons From a Chef"
  • "I (pod) Train, You (tube) Train, (Wii) All Train"
  • "Service That Rocks"
  • "Creating Great Employee and Guest Experiences at Outback Steakhouse"
  • "People Report™ Workforce 2008: Best People Practices in the Restaurant Industry"

"Most of our industry is suffering from the economy, and it’s a great time to define your leadership style and impact within the restaurant industry," said Joleen Flory, president and CEO of Bloomington, Minn.-based The Elliot Leadership Institute. "This is the time true leaders are born and recognized. If a restaurant’s talent pool is a bit shallow, now is the time to do something about it."

In the session, "Leading Courageously Through Tough Times," Flory will provide an eight-point leadership effectiveness model that rigorously and systematically enables leaders at all levels to get the most from their people and to give them what they need to succeed. The ultimate goal through this session, she said, is to get restaurateurs, "swimming in a deep leadership talent pool."

"Once attendees leave the HR in Hospitality™ conference and apply this leadership model, they will be better positioned to weather tough times as an organization that is results-driven, takes care of customers, and builds effective teams," she said.

Leadership stems from many different places – including the kitchen. During the session "Leadership Lessons From a Chef," Charles M. Carroll, executive chef at Houston’s River Oaks Country Club, will offer practical tips proven to work and will demonstrate how great leaders in the kitchen cultivate the right attitude for success in their teams, and so lead the way toward kitchen excellence.

"The difference between good and great in creating excellence in the professional kitchen comes down to the details," Carroll said. "Attention to detail comes from the right attitude reaching across all staff. In addition to a lot of laughing and learning that will go on, attendees will walk away with practical tips they can use immediately to increase sales, impress customers and improve teamwork in the kitchen."

To Carroll, the No. 1 challenge today for HR practitioners is understanding today's generation — in particular, understanding why Generation "Why" thinks the way they do.

"Perhaps this session should have been called ‘Understanding Today's Generation and How To Get Them To Want To Work For You,’" he said. "This course will walk HR executives through today's generational challenges and present dozens of antidotes on how to attract, hire, retain and motivate Generation 'Why'."

T.J. Schier, director of operations for Which Wich™? Superior Sandwiches in Dallas and lead presenter of "I (pod) Train, You (tube) Train, (wii) All Train," concured with Carroll, saying, "Today’s generation is wired much differently than others" — using Google vs. an encyclopedia, etc.

"Today’s training materials haven’t kept up," Schier said. "Web sites and devices of today’s generation [such as Google, You Tube, the Nintendo Wii and the iPod] affect the way they learn and affect how knowledge is applied. In this session, HR executives will learn how to develop targeted and effective training materials for this tech-savvy, on-demand generation. Once it’s understood how they learn, practitioners can then develop effective print, portable and online training tools that this generation will be more eager to interact with and benefit from. This method really works, and throughout the session I’ll share with attendees actual data and results from a number of companies that have been able to reduce training time, improve test scores and heighten employee retention rates."

During "People Report™ Workforce 2008: Best People Practices in the Restaurant Industry," Kacy Oden, director of member relations for People Report™ in Dallas, will share HR metrics and benchmarks that have resulted in improved operational performance for today’s most successful restaurant companies.

"Sustainability is the only way to weather the current economic storm we are in," Oden said. "By implementing the best people practices outlined during this session, restaurateurs should have no difficulty remaining strong during tough times."

Additional sessions include:

  • "Creating Great Employee and Guest Experiences at Outback Steakhouse" — Steve Erickson, SVP-operations at Outback Steakhouse, David Hyatt, president of CorVirtus LLC, and Gregg Scarlett, SVP-operations for Bonefish Grill, will show that great experiences begin by selecting and developing the right employees. This powerful approach drives employee engagement and retention, customer satisfaction and corporate profitability. Attendees will receive proven hiring and operational tips and develop an understanding of the tools used to hire the best people.
  • "Service That Rocks!" — Jim Knight, director of training and development at The School of Hard Rocks, the Orlando, Fla.-based training headquarters for Hard Rock International, returns to HR in Hospitality™ to discuss how people practices impact the company’s ability to deliver customer service. Knight will unveil powerful ways to engage and build loyal internal and external customers.

In addition to the HR in Restaurants track, the two-and-a-half-day event will also feature educational sessions targeting the following disciplines: HR hot topics; HR in hotels; labor relations; and for 2009, HR best practices. General session presentations by industry notables Christopher J. Nassetta, president and CEO, Hilton Hotels Corp., and Kelli Valade, SVP, PeopleWorks, Chili’s and Brinker International, also will be featured.

In addition to the conference, the HR in Hospitality™ Expo Hall is open for two days and will feature more than 75 exhibitors. The expo is designed to further assist attendees through exposure to products and services related to: benefits administration, compensation systems and services, diversity hiring/compliance training, employee assistance programs, HR consulting, HRO, insurance, payroll software and services, recruitment, retirement and 401K services, safety and security services, training, wealth benefits and group life, disability and workers’ compensation and more.

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