Mentor Your Way to Success

A focus on the individual approach to leadership puts employees on a path for growth and encourages them to stick around longer.  
A manager and a worker sit at a table and discuss restaurant operations

Restaurants constantly battle to reduce turnover. Today’s war for talent and retention is being won by operators who mentor their workforce.

So you train your staff and teach new skills? Great, you’re coaching. Mentoring is different. It’s about developing soft skills (communications and relationships) and technical skills (how a person does the job). Mentoring starts with knowing what workers are looking for individually and providing a “longer than right now” strategy, getting them invested in the future of your business and their place to shine.

The dictionary defines mentor as “an experienced or trusted adviser.” It’s a definition that just scratches the surface. Here’s the difference between a boss, a coach and a mentor:

  • A boss tells you WHAT to do
  • A coach tells you HOW to do something
  • A mentor tells you WHY you do it

With a mentor, there’s a long-term outlook in play, critiquing a worker’s performance when necessary, but always encouraging a worker’s potential.

So why does mentorship matter? Over the years, operators have invested in technical skills. The fastest servers. The most efficient line cooks. The finest social media creators. The sharpest accounting software users. They haven’t invested in soft skills—team leadership or problem solving.

When a manager leaves, the role often gets filled by the next person in line—an employee with solid technical skills. A survey highlights the problem. It reveals 93 percent of managers say they need training to coach and mentor employees, yet 47 percent of managers don’t receive any training when they take a new leadership role. 

The concentration on technical expertise is beginning to backfire, and it’s showing up with employees leaving when they find themselves without the soft skills needed to take the next step into leadership. Mentoring develops loyalty, enhances strengths and promotes a thriving business.

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