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A colleague once told me she disliked the phrase “I'm reaching out today” in an email. I've used that phrase, what, maybe hundreds of times? But now that I know it makes her wince, I am sure not to use it when I write to her. When you start to notice a certain turn of phrase or new jargon, soon, every time someone writes it, it jumps off the screen in blazing neon lights.

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As CEO Jeff Crivello put it, “we're in inning number three of the turnaround.” In the top job at Famous Dave's since November 2017 following a revolving door of CEOs and past management missteps, Crivello & Co. are charting a multi-faceted course toward growth as their newly formed restaurant group seeks to build a barbecue empire. Will their auspicious plans pay off or prove to be overly complicated? Perhaps Crivello says it best: “We don't know which one it is, but one of them will be right for the next 10 years.”

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Mary Rawlins spent 21 years in the Burger King system, ultimately serving as controller for a large franchisee. Then she heard about a little sandwich chain started by “two actual firefighters and their dad, a retired fire captain. It's a good story,” she said.

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Every point along the employee engagement spectrum is being stress-tested, and even companies with a robust communication infastructure have made changes. Hiring also presents new challenges, and if operators want to bring their workforce back, they need to be nimble–and start now.