Episode 344: Jill Raff talks about expectations management, screening for values, and reacting vs. responding

Company Culture, Guest Experience, Podcast, Women of Influence

Jill Raff is the Founder and CEO of the Jill Raff Group, where she helps organizations work from the inside out by focusing on the employee experience, which leads to an excellent customer experience.  Jill grew up in the restaurant business and is a columnist for Nation’s Restaurant News.  Today, Jill helps companies attract and retain the right people who align with their core values, making them the employer of choice and a company worth talking about.  In this interview, Jill talks about expectations management, screening for values, and reacting vs. responding.

Expectations management

“Without proper expectations management, people are going to project what they think on a scenario or how they are supposed to work.”

The idea of expectations management applies equally to the guest and employee experience alike.  If a business is understaffed, the simplest way to communicate it to guests is that operations are reduced because of lower staffing.  However, by going deeper into why staffing is not as strong as it should be, you can communicate to guests that they have yet to find the right candidates to fill positions and that they won’t compromise on the experience just so they can be fully operational.

Expectations management also can be looked at in comparison to wages, which have increased substantially for the majority of the industry in recent years.  One school of thought suggests that higher wages should naturally assume a higher expectation of their performance, but it must be looked at in the context of what they are already responsible for and what additional responsibility they may take on.  Training also plays a critical role, because if you pay employees more and expect more from them but don’t put in the effort to invest and train them on their increased standards, the pay increase will likely not yield an increase in performance.

Screening for values

“You can’t just hire people that you like and want to go to dinner with. They have to align with your core values.”

To properly screen for values, Jill recommends role-playing and putting candidates in situations to observe how they act in certain circumstances they are likely to encounter on the job.  Ask how they would handle certain scenarios or if they have had similar circumstances happen before, and if they haven’t, how would they act?

Judgment should not be made directly from their responses, because anyone can be trained and taught to act in accordance with the organization.  However, these exercises allow recruiters to screen for character and how they truly feel serving other people, not just because they are getting paid to do it.

In some cases, if the need for staffing is critical and it is unclear if certain individuals align with the organization’s values, leaders can take on a new employee as a project to bring up to the standard of the organization and focus on their continual development.  However, if they do not rise to the standard expected of them, it can be a detriment to the morale of high-performing team members who see that the standard is not being met by their coworkers.

Reacting vs. responding

“Do they react or do they respond? There’s a big difference between those two.”

When screening for values, Jill notes the difference between reacting and responding to certain circumstances.  When we react to something, it’s an immediate emotional reaction.  With a response, we take a moment and think about what they said, and come at it with an emotionally intelligent response.

A reaction is a knee-jerk response that does not consider other factors, such as what else is happening whether during that day or in that individual’s life.  To properly respond, individuals must pull back and look at all of the other factors that go into the moment that they are responding to.


To connect with Jill, visit www.jillraff.com, send her email at jill@jillraff.com, or connect with her on LinkedIn.

This podcast wouldn’t be possible without the incredible work of our faaaaaantastic team:

  • Scheduling and correspondence by Kristen Karaliunas
  • Audio and video editing by Abby Giganan

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