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With HR, Keep the Structure Clear, Caliper Consultant Advises


Caliper's Trevor Shylock

Employee relations and human resources can prove tricky as franchisors try not to stumble into a joint employer mess. As our Living Large bosses share in this August issue story, it comes down to offering guidance, not mandates. Acting as a resource —yet still keeping their distance.

Trevor Shylock, a consultant at talent management company Caliper who works with franchises, offered some advice to emerging concepts as part of my story. Here’s more from our Q&A:


Laura Michaels: What’s a common mistake or something young franchises often overlook when it comes to HR and employee relations?

Trevor Shylock: Young franchisees with limited experience managing lower-skilled employees tend to underestimate the importance of the softer skills of management. Showing appreciation, ensuring employees feel valued, and giving constructive feedback toward desired areas of growth will produce better performance and less turnover compared to just giving people a paycheck as a way to show appreciation. Get to know your employees: their likes, dislikes, aspirations, and any other skills they might have or are interested in learning that could help the business outside of their normal job descriptions. Help them grow as a person and professional.


LM: What’s one piece of advice or a best practice in developing HR policies that you’d share with the CEO of an emerging franchise concept?

TS: Create a written process for providing feedback and also for what steps a manager or franchisee should follow whenever dismissing an employee. Even if you are operating in an “at-will” employment state, it is in the best interest of the employer to protect themselves by having clear documentation of instances of underperformance (or acting in opposition to the company values), records of providing feedback for that underperformance, and notes of if the performance issue continues post-feedback.

Far too many companies hold on to employees because they do not want to have an uncomfortable conversation about not meeting performance expectations. If there is a clear process or policy of how to deal with underperformance and performance expectations are shared with all employees, then it will create an environment to retain high performers and dismiss poor performers quickly.


LM: What are some tools a franchisor can/should provide to franchisees to assist them in finding the best employees?

TS: 1. A clear job description for the critical roles of a typical franchise broken down competencies and for skills that are required upon entry versus things that can be trained.  

2. A structured interview guide that requires candidates to provide examples of when they have demonstrated the key competencies required for success in the role, shows clear anchors of what a poor, mediocre, and good answer looks like to those questions, and helps the interviewer probe beyond surface level responses to get at true potential performance opposed to just hearing a rehearsed response that is rooted in impression management.

Discrimination is a hot topic so the hiring process should be fair to all applicants. The easiest way to do that is to ensure applicants are treated the same and that all of the questions and hurdles are based on job-relevant criteria and not subject to personal biases or anything irrelevant to one’s ability to perform the job-tasks for the role in which they are interviewing.

3. A simple performance appraisal that has a clear description of objective performance expectations and is based on the primary competencies required to be successful will go a long way in creating and maintaining A-Players.

4. A list of company values with behavioral indicators that make it crystal clear for everyone to see what it takes to demonstrate behaviors in line with the company values.

5.  If there is common software or hardware that each franchise is expected to use, providing some training documents, FAQs, or troubleshooting guides can go a long way in minimizing the ramp-up time before someone is considered a high performer. Use the collective knowledge and lessons learned from the other franchises to create an open community for the franchises to share best practices and reach out to one another for support.

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The latest news, opinions and commentary on what's happening in the franchise arena that could affect your business.

Tom KaiserTom Kaiser is senior editor of Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3209, or send story ideas to tkaiser@franchisetimes.com.
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is senior editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is restaurants editor at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
Laura MichaelsLaura Michaels is editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at




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