Roaring into ’19 with Cautious Optimism: Takeaways from ICR
by Bob Gershberg, CEO/Managing Partner, Wray Executive Search
Digital, delivery, value and labor costs remained the dominant themes at the 2019 ICR Conference. Tone amongst presenting companies was largely positive. Sentiment amongst the attendees, not so much. Fundamental concerns on weak sales, high costs and competition continue across all segments. General economic anxieties around such issues in 2019 trade, tariffs, rising interest rates and President Donald Trump’s administration. Labor cost inflation and scarcity remain a substantial focus with technology as an offset to these issues.
What a few of the Bigs had to say:
Brian Niccol, CEO Chipotle – Drawing the crowds, Brian’s turnaround pitch is still strong. Early wins in key initiatives, particularly in digital and delivery resonated. Labor scheduling changes are being tested and laser focus on throughput are paramount to reaching the $2.5 million AUVs of yesteryear. “If you rewind on this business over the last three to four years, the company just went quiet and defensive,” Niccol said. “The brand just became invisible. And we are working to make it more visible.”
by Rebecca Patt, Senior Vice President of Development, Wray Executive Search
Sometimes, even if you’re a legend in your field, you don’t get the job. It pains me to reject anyone, and as an executive recruiter, I dish out a heap of rejection on a regular basis to candidates who don’t make the cut. A while back, I heard a story about the casting of the classic movie “Ghost” that helped me get perspective on what I find to be one of the most un-fun parts of being an executive recruiter: telling good candidates “no.”
Executive search has some similarities to Hollywood casting, so when I heard a few years back that two Hollywood casting agents had written a book about their careers and were coming to my local bookstore for a reading, I eagerly attended. Janet Hirshenson and Jane Jenkins, prominent casting agents in Hollywood for over 30 years, wrote the book A Star Is Found: Our Adventures Casting Some of Hollywood’s Biggest Movies.
“Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand.”
~ Gen. Colin Powell, former U.S. Secretary of State
Does Your Organization Live the Culture You Say You Want?
by Elaine Varelas, Managing Partner, Keystone Patners
Is culture accidental? A simple by-product of the way work is done? Perhaps at one time it was, today, however, corporate culture is a hot topic of discussion not only in HR but also in the boardroom. Increasingly, culture is a strategic imperative, purposefully designed for organizational success.
From personnel, to human resources, to people strategy, to employee experience, leaders responsible for the human side of business continue to evolve, finding new ways to deliver a competitive edge that generates results, market share, and increased valuations on Wall Street.
"Hire people who are better than you are, then leave them to get on with it . . . Look for people who will aim for the remarkable, who will not settle for the routine."
~ David Ogilvy
Make ‘Better Communication’ Your No. 1 HR Resolution
by Robin Hardman, owner Robin Hardman Communications
We’re told that employees in mission-driven organizations are more engaged. But surely this applies only if the employees, themselves, feel they have a role to play in achieving that mission, which can’t happen if they are routinely kept in the dark. A robust, mission-driven organization requires robust employee communications. Today, when Google, smart phones, social media and cable news have accustomed nearly all of us to non-stop information access, the expectation of open, ongoing communications is stronger than ever.
Fortunately, it’s not that hard to create a culture of great communication. Just in time for the season of new beginnings, here are some tips:
Tell the truth — Chances are, you don’t make it a practice to hire stupid employees. Respect their intelligence by being as candid as possible about what’s going on — the good and the bad. This is essential not just because they can do a better job if they have the correct information, but because once it becomes clear that the organization’s communications can’t be trusted, there is no point in putting them out at all. No one will pay attention.
What To Do About Restaurant People Problems at the C Level
by John Gordon, Principal & Founder of Pacific Management Consulting Group
Looking at recent history, there is growing evidence in the last two years that restaurant people problems, particularly at the founder, board or C Level can cause massive ripples through the brand and in the consumer marketplace. This is not to say people problems at the multiunit, store and hourly employee levels are not important. Multiunit or store management difficulties might be more limited in scope and affect a shift, a unit or even a market. Everything affects everything else: hourly employees take their clues from management and of course can disappear in an instant. But people problems at the C Level will tend to inflect everything else over time, not unlike the flu.
Think about the following brands and recent news:
Subway: in the last week, the relatively new hire North America Subway President “left immediately”, as did the North America Senior VP of Operations in November. These were both outsiders to the insular Subway culture. Subway has no CMO, with the advertising agency running marketing on an interim basis (what a terrible conflict of interest, as ad agencies get paid on gross media spending). Last May, Suzanne Greco, Fred DeLuca’s sister and acting CEO, transitioned out, around the same time as unit closings from the 2018 FDD submission became known. It is believed that the Buck and DeLuca families are at loggerheads; Dr. Buck, the original senior partner, is still alive and has a notion about how the business should be run. A senior franchisee opined that Subway Corporate is “allergic to new people and ideas”.