best incentives for motivating top employee to progress?

Our top employee is now nineteen and is looking to move forward with us. He takes home 4-6 hundred/wk. net (this includes tips). How should we go about keeping him hungry and wanting to move forward? He currently works in the kitchen, and a few nights a week he delivers… should we focus on keeping him in shop and hiring a driver for an obviously much smaller amount of money? thanks again!

You may not like my answer but it’s based on past experience with a lot of young adults under my employ.

Based on the figures you state, I suspect he is already a bit over compensated but reflects the value which you obviously feel toward him, and believe me…I understand that more than you know. I once had a young man who I groomed to replace me and continued to increase his compensation year after year (bonus related) but when it was over, it was over.

I unrealistically expected that my overcompensation would purchase a certain degree of loyalty when “the thrill was gone” but I was wrong.

The concern I have is the age, and lack of maturity and stability at that age. (Marriage, family, mortgage tend to change things.) At 19, there’s still a whole lot of growing up to do.

It’s obviously your business and your call but I think you need to soberly assess how much you can afford, and do not underestimate your end of the deal. The day he walks away, you’ll be reminded of why you can’t go with him.

What is the next step of progress? Ownership? If it were me, I’d offer some sort of stock option or share with redemption tied to present value vs future value of business (annual sales?) and redemption predicated on 30-60 day notice (your discretion) allowing you to find and train a suitable replacement.

I would require it be purchased from his proceeds rather than paid in lieu of cash as it then becomes a discretionary purchase on his part. If he’s unwilling to invest a little “blood”, he’s probably not ready to “progress”.

Sweat equity means nothing to me as it has no convertibility.

BTW, yesterday I just lost an extremely capable 19 year old assistmgr with over a year’s experience who was earning nearly $375/wk as a result of a personal issue (his) which happened on his day off. Can you say “unplanned loss”?

I love working with young adults but I’m well aware of the limitation.

once he tops off, hell become lazy and careless just like every other nineteen year old in our business.

Dayum. Bad attitude towards your staff.

Look for intangibles to offer. Allow for him to create recipes or processes with you. Delegate a couple crucial elements that can become “his”. It ain’t the best, but offering some autonomy that others don’t have, and some trust with some recipes that no one else but you or key people know . . . that is something personal that others cannot offer tomorrow. Money is one of those it is easier to lose a competition over . . . respect and trust are tougher for someone to outdo you on in just a day or two negotiation.

It ain’t the best, but offering some autonomy that others don’t have, and some trust with some recipes that no one else but you or key people know . . . that is something personal that others cannot offer tomorrow

I would be extremely careful with potential “trade secrets” unless you are absolutely sure this guy has no aspirations to be in the business unless he’s working for you. (And how can you possibly know that?)

Therein lies the value of the ‘trust’. If the future was a certainty, there would be no need for trust.

Sure, you can’t trot out the secret recipe to “Bush Baked Beans”, but without a little investment of trust at some point, there isn’t any real exhileration or buy-in from senior staff, and they leave. If I don’t trust them to hold some increasing responsibility, then I am not investing in them, and they will know it.

Does this kid get lots of free pizza? What else could a 19 year old want or need :slight_smile:

Fair pay , some respect and lots of good food. Do you have “employee awards”?

Completely agree here.

Most kids I’ve trusted to talk to have told me that, in the end, its the work environment and the people they work with that they treasure most. They don’t have heavy responsibilities at that age so a higher wage is not that important. It may excite them to get a higher hourly wage at first but after a while they will realize that $2 or $3 more an hour really will not impact their lifestyle much, if at all.

Keep the atmosphere “fun” by carefully considering who you hire. “Try” to hire people that you think will fit in with the existing culture you have. If they are smart they will want a good wage but I’ve found its the environment that really keeps them long term. Plus they will find you like-minded recruits like themselves!

Personally, I have found that most kids his age are not mature enough for the job. But, and this is a big but… there are always exceptions.