We asked three experts to share their secrets for building the best teams and added one ourselves! Find out what everyone had to say.

Hiring frontline staff is tough today. There are fewer teens in the workforce than there were a decade ago when the US last achieved nearly full employment. Tougher school schedules, increased participation in higher education and more outside commitments are just some of the reasons the pool of workers has gotten smaller over the last 10-15 years. Bottom line: entertainment facilities need to know how to recruit, train and manage this young workforce in such a competitive environment.

That’s why, in advance of Frank Price’s In Search of a Perfect Team session at Birthday University, we sat down with Frank and his guest speakers to ask them what it takes to assemble a terrific team. Here are four things you should know before you post that next job.

1. “Understand the current talent pool.” – Frank Price, FL Price

Just as you began to figure out the unique thought processes and characteristics of one generation of employees, a new generation comes along that is nothing like their predecessors. Meet Generation Z, the latest group of less-than-21-year-olds that will make up 80 – 95% of your team. As with Millennials, you don’t have to agree with how they think, act or behave but you do have to align with them to operate a productive and successful family amusement business today.

Generation Z is self-motivated, technology savvy, entrepreneurial and more mature for their age than the millennial generation. This makes them goal- and growth-driven, independent, loyal and have a high desire to work — if the work has meaning and is purposeful. Understanding their way of thinking will help you recruit, hire, train and keep them productive. Check out more of Frank’s thoughts on recruiting Gen Z here.

So, what should you know when managing them?

  • Gen Z values visual, face-to-face communication.
  • They desire a mutual respect from their superiors and co-workers.
  • They do not and will not work for a “Jerk Boss.”
  • They want to learn.
  • They crave security.
  • Perks do not impress Gen Z; they want real meaning and authentic relationships.

2. “Understand the risks associated with the current job market.” – Rand Wright, SafeParkUSA

It is important to understand risk as it relates to hiring and managing employees. We live in a litigious society that requires employers to proactively implement and execute strong hiring and employment practices.

Instituting strong employment practices may sound complicated but some of the steps are incredibly simple. Ensuring a strong culture exists within your business is a great foundation on which to build these practices and it helps make the rest of the steps a natural evolution of that culture. For starters, it’s a good idea to:

  • Have a clearly stated hiring process. Consider an online service that provides a sophisticated process that is easy to use.
  • Conduct background checks.
  • Set clear expectations in onboarding about acceptable behavior from staff and managers and establish an open-door policy.
  • Establish an employee handbook and keep it updated annually.

3. “Get management on the same page.” – Alan Kumpf, FunStruction Results

When setting expectations for your frontline staff, it is essential the management team also understands the concepts behind motivating those employees. Most management teams and owners are set on managing labor costs by cutting labor hours. However, true productivity can be found by increasing sales with the guests you have in the facility at any given moment — which requires team buy-in. This is often difficult for managers to understand initially, but these ready-to-share principles can help:

  • It’s easier to get more from your current guests than it is to entice new guests.
  • An increase of just $5 more on a game card because team members are being productive and engaging with guests in your game room could boost labor sales by hour by 15% even with a few guests in the facility.
  • The primary job function of a manager on duty is to spend time with the employees creating a productivity atmosphere. A common bad habit that managers fall into is adopting the mindset that they are in the facility in case they are needed, or something goes wrong. Learn how to identify these types of unhealthy habits and the steps necessary to eliminate them.

4. “Give more credit and take more blame.” – Sherry Howell, CenterEdge Software

Great leaders understand that they aren’t in competition with their team members. Your team’s success is built on the notion that everyone works together towards a common purpose. Once you articulate and share your facility’s core purpose (your “Why”), your team has something bigger than themselves to rally around. And they will, right up until you disappoint them by breaking your word or acting in a way that contradicts your purpose or values. And you can be sure they’re always watching.

When your team excels, give them credit and praise. When they underperform, take ownership for the team’s shortcomings and commit to train and reset expectations. Be straight about where individual performance issues are but understand that it’s your responsibility to give team members the coaching and opportunity they need to grow.

As manager of a team of frontline staff, you’re in a visible position so it’s natural for upper management to give praise and accolades to you when they see your department performing well. Resist the urge to take all the credit and, instead, share it with your team. Every great idea or process improvement doesn’t have to come from you, so be sure you’re not stealing the spotlight from your team. You’ll naturally get to bask in the glory when you give your staff due credit, too, so don’t worry about feeling left out. Team members who feel appreciated will continue to do their best, but team members grow to resent leaders who are quick to place blame and slow to give praise.

Attend the seminar In Search of a Perfect Team on August 21st in Atlanta to find out more details on how your business must evolve its recruiting and hiring process to stay competitive and successful. Contact Sherry Howell at showell@centeredgesoftware.com to reserve your scholarship today!

Have other crucial components of assembling a terrific team? Share them with us in the comments or on Twitter.

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