Succession planning for restaurants is a hot topic right now. Training Directors, GMs, and HR Executives alike are all looking for new processes to help identify and grow the next generation of leaders from within their organization. Succession planning is vitally important to the continued evolution, growth, and promotion of leaders in any restaurant organization.  The big questions are how do we get started? and what are the appropriate systems to put in place?

Just like many conventions of the corporate world, traditional succession planning may not be a good fit for restaurants. Even if a restaurant has a structured path to develop leaders and move them up in the organization, the most difficult part of succession planning is still left unanswered. . . how to initially identify and develop worthy candidates.

Traditional succession planning puts the responsibility of identifying worthy candidates primarily in the hands of HR. This process is not necessarily streamlined in the corporate world, but it is more bifurcated by discipline and therefore easier for managers to recognize talent in those working beneath them – accountants identifying accountants to move up accountant tracks, etc. In restaurants, this is not the case. The best candidate for a new manager in one location may be a lead bartender or promising line chef thriving in another location altogether. Gauging the worthiness of a candidate on their interest alone is also a risky proposition. Just because a candidate shows interest in advancement doesn’t mean they are willing to put in the work – which is a risk. So, the big first challenge becomes identifying great candidates efficiently.

We’re helping restaurants build next-generation succession plans around Optional Learning Opportunities. We feel the most effective way to discover team members ready to move up in a restaurant organization is by giving them additional resources to consume voluntarily. By providing a robust library of optional learning and tracking who in the organization is undertaking this learning – our restaurant clients are identifying team members who are motivated to gain new expertise on their own. Motivated team members are thirsty for new information and take their own professional development upon themselves. We’re finding that the best future leaders will take initiative if given the the opportunity.

Technology comes into play as it provides the framework and automation of several key elements of the process.

Provide Optional Learning
To track motivated learners, you first must provide optional learning opportunities in addition to required content.  Learners must be able to easily find voluntary learning opportunities and understand the value of completing them.  We make a distinction between required and voluntary learning content in our system and assign points to every learning opportunity in our system to achieve these goals.

Automated Reporting of Motivated Learners
We reduce the administrative friction of succession planning with automated reporting. We work with our restaurant clients to determine what constitutes a ‘motivated learner’ and set up auto-generated reports when a learner’s actions reveal them as a viable candidate.  For example, if a learner has completed 10 optional learning opportunities from 5 different disciplines in one month’s time – an automated report is generated and sent to a manager. This learner has self-identified as a candidate for advancement through their actions.

The Right Fit & Right Path for Each Individual
Taking close stock of the kind of content motivated learners are consuming can be very informative as to which path is best for them in the future.  Finding a career path that is the right fit for the individual is crucial to making a smart investment in their development.  Observing where a learner is drawn to expand voluntarily at the very beginning of the journey is wildly helpful in determining a fruitful path for them moving forward.

Leaders Who Can Teach Others
One mark of a successful leader in a restaurant environment is the ability to train and teach others.  Every learner in our platform has the ability to contribute content to the community.  Motivated learners who also reveal themselves as active teachers of their peers through the contribution of learning content to the online community are excellent candidates for advancement.

Recognition and Rewards
Rewarding and recognizing learners who have moved into leadership positions due to their own hard work is supremely important for the learner and also for other learners who are motivated by seeing their peers advance. Traditional learning technology – where the learner’s experience is very much an insulated – often fall short in this regard. We’ve incorporated powerful communication and community tools into our learning solutions to connect learners and celebrate valuable behaviors.

Identifying motivated learners more efficiently at the beginning of the process frees up valuable HR and training resources to focus they do best – developing strong candidates instead of finding and identifying them.