Published on: March 24, 2009by Michael Sansolo
There’s no rule that says you have to answer when opportunity knocks. But that doesn’t mean you won’t lose, especially if the competition is busily opening every door possible.
Despite the gloomy state of economic news, many (including Kevin Coupe and me in our regular columns) have been urging you on to find opportunity. Sometimes when motivation doesn’t work, fear helps. Consider this:
Right now, unemployment is obviously higher than in many years, which has many companies reconsidering recruiting and retention programs. The logic is pretty strong: when the supply of labor is high, why work hard at getting and keeping people. It’s strong logic, but a losing long-term strategy.
And that’s where fear comes in. A number of large foodservice and restaurant companies have been talking about this issue recently with two interesting ideas that demand your attention.
The first is the simple truth that at the moment there is an uncommonly excellent group of potential employees to grab. With high paying jobs in financial industries drying up, top graduating students are having to look elsewhere for employment. That means all companies can view the current situation as an incredible opportunity (there’s that word again) to grab top-notch talent. Considering the demographic time bomb that is still looming in the someday retirement of the Baby Boom, this is a wonderful time to recruit a future generation of leaders.
Think about what happens if restaurant companies get that right and you don’t!
The second point is equally simple and also related to economics. In the current environment, cost containment is essential if not more important than ever. Again, restaurant companies are talking about the importance of stepped up training using the logic that a better-trained employee is more efficient and effective. The return on investment for training, in short, comes quick.
Now there are a couple of ways to look at this. One is to ignore statements coming out of the foodservice industry, which assumes that somehow you have missed just how large a percentage of meals these companies have taken from retail food in the past 30 years. Another option is to ignore the reality that these foodservice companies aren’t alone. No doubt very sharp retailers are thinking the same thing because there are companies (you can name them with little thinking) that never pass up a chance to grab opportunity.
Frequently in these columns I have to explain biases or conflicts of interest due to work I do with various companies. On the issue of training people, I must always offer an apology because my continuing work with FMI on the Future Connect leadership conference falls right into this area. However, this week I’m offering no apology.
The reason I’m working on the FMI conference is because it is an issue I believe in. I believe we have a stunning opportunity to link into the next generation and a stunningly large risk to destroy companies by not being proactive in this area.
It’s far too easy to pass up Future Connect or any other training program because times are tough, money is tight and labor is plentiful.
Or it is time to grab opportunity. It’s your call, but remember: the competition is acting.
Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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