An upfront approach is best, says chef Tom Kerridge, who has recently been disappointed by the dishonest behaviour of hospitality recruiters
Typically, we review the week that's just passed, look at ways in which we can improve what we are doing, and look at the
In a recent meeting, Lourdes Dooley, my general manager, who has been with me for nine years, mentioned that a recruiter had rung her at work and asked her to phone back regarding a "personal matter". It soon became evident that the same thing had happened to Nick Beardshaw, my head chef at the Coach. They were both offered positions as part-owners in a new business, which this person was helping to set up.
Lourdes politely declined, and so did Nick. Over the years together, Lourdes and I have built a relationship on trust, and I have developed similar relationships with other key staff. They trust me to make the right decisions for all of us in the business, and I trust them to make the right decisions in the parts of the business that they run, in which we have all invested so much of our time and energy.
I have no problem with people talking to my staff about where they want to go to in the future and how they are going to get there. If people invest time in the business, we will invest time in them, and if those devoted staff at any time wanted my help in assisting them with their next move, they know they can ask.
We have ex-employees working all over the world now - in fact, one member of the team is just about to move out to San Francisco to work with Corey Lee - and we're very proud of that. Similarly, if they feel that they need to grow or develop, they will tell me and we will work to deliver that.
What upsets me, though, is when people think it is acceptable to ring your business and approach your staff in their place of work in the belief that your relationship is so bad that they can walk right in and make them a better offer.
This behaviour showed a complete lack of respect for my business, which I've spent 11 years, with my team, building up. It shows a complete lack of respect to my staff, and a complete lack of respect for me - it suggests that I don't believe in or develop my staff.
But it also looks bad for the industry. It suggests that people aren't loyal, and it suggests that most people want to move on and can have their heads turned - and that's not true. And it's really backhanded.
This is a real issue for business owners at the moment. I often hear of situations where agencies place people and then, once they have passed their probation and the agency fee has been paid, the employee moves on.
We recently had a situation where an agency was employed to find staff for us.
At the same time that they were searching for wonderful people to become part of our team, they were talking to our restaurant manager and offering them other positions.
It's not the way the industry should work. We are all in it together. Most hotels and restaurants work together these days - there's a definite friendship and willingness to support one another as opposed to 20 years ago when it was all about rivalry.
But these cloak-and-dagger methods do not give the industry a good name. We now employ over 100 staff across the business, and so for someone to want to replicate it is wonderful. But it's taken time to build that - you can't just buy it. And it's not a fair or nice way to operate.
When people come here on a stage, the first thing I ask them is where they are working and whether their employers knows they've come to us. I hate the idea of someone working somewhere on their days off and their employer not knowing they are there.
I always say to them, "you must speak to your employer and tell them exactly what's going on". I don't want to be part of an underhanded system.
Being upfront and honest is always the best policy.