There is a new generation of employees entering the workforce. Unlike most generations, millennials and Gen Z call for a new generation of leadership. 

The Washington Hospitality Association in partnership with the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA) is presenting this podcast to help you navigate the next generation of workers, especially now during this most recent labor shortage. 

Washington Hospitality Association President & CEO Anthony Anton and ORLA’s President & CEO Jason Brandt recently sat down with Shannon McMenamin of the McMenamins family-owned chain of brewpubs, breweries, music venues, historic hotels, and theater pubs in Oregon and Washington. She is also the chair of the ORLA board of directors. You can listen here or wherever you get your podcasts under the Northwest Hospitality Leadership Podcast. 

Shannon’s father and uncle founded the business when they opened their first brewpub in 1985. 

Anthony, who also grew up in the industry, asked her if she agreed that the leadership style he and she grew up with would have to change in this new environment. 

“I absolutely agree with you that it’s going to look different as we move forward as leaders,” she said. “Generationally, I think that there are a lot of differences, and I think it’s really important for those of us coming into our leadership roles as we’re moving into the later parts of our careers that we’re listening to the people working below us.” 

She said we should find out what the next generation of leaders wants and how they will be successful. 

“We all want that balance between work and life and want to feel like we’re able to live where we work,” she said. 

Anthony asked how her whole team could be so fully engaged. He noted that their hospitality comes from the front desk to the busser. 

Shannon said her team works a lot on being authentic. Her team is empowered to help guests as they would like to be helped. She added that communication is key to ensuring everyone is on the same page. 

Shannon strives to create an atmosphere where people aren’t afraid to make mistakes. She hopes to give them the space to learn.  

Jason said having patience in a leader is more important now than in previous generations. 

“If you’re not able to be patient and help people make those mistakes, then I’ve noticed that some of our employers have trouble holding on to people if they have a lower level of patience,” he said. 

Shannon said having scheduled time with their teams is important to create open communication. She suggests having lunch together because the conversation flows freely once people are comfortable. 

For new general managers, Shannon suggests listening, making themselves available and learning the available systems, not coming in too hot when they are in that new role. 

She said we should start challenging the thinking that the younger generations don’t want to work.  

“I think that’s a result of the pandemic and the anxiety that’s gone along with that,” she said. “The fact of the matter is, we’re still operating. We have a ton of people working.” 

Look for the next episode of the NW Hospitality Leadership Podcast in June, when Shannon talks about her personal leadership philosophy, “Be honest, be kind and be curious.”