By Donald Burns, Foodable Industry Expert
If you Google the word teamwork, you get about 59 million results. Type in the phrase team development and you'll get 422 million results. It seems like everyone has some secret to getting more out of the people they work with.
Restaurants are no different. You need to get more from the people you hire if you want your concept to thrive. Here are three down-and-dirty yet extremely effective ways to get more from your team. Remember that teamwork does makes the dream work.
1. Understand that not everyone is motivated the same.
Today's workforce is a complex blend of multiple generations. The one thing you have to realize is that not every generation is motivated the exact same way. Take money as an example. Now, money can be a great motivator for a while. There are not too many people in the world who would not like to make a little bit more cash. However, in the big scheme of things, it's not necessarily a long-term driver of performance and productivity.
The biggest mistakes that most owners, operators and managers make is the assumption that everyone is like them and everyone is motivated the same way. Big mistake. The Millennials are not the same as the Baby Boomers or the Gen Xers. Some crave flexible hours. Some want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Yes, some are driven by money and title.
Want to know the best way to understand what motivates your people? It's quite simple. Ask them. Unlike corporate America, most independent restaurant owners rarely sit down and conduct a formal performance evaluation. Even corporate evaluations have their flaw in the fact that most are conducted on a once-a-year basis. Great leaders constantly talk and try to understand their team on a deeper level than just job performance. When you break through that barrier you have access to information that will allow you to better understand what really drives your people.
When you understand what makes your people tick, then and only then can you offer incentives that will truly motivate.
2. Get rid of the negative vampires.
A team is only as strong as its weakest link. Admit it, you probably have some people on your team that are negative energy vampires. These are the people that just bring everyone down.
Call it a bad attitude. Called it the gloom and doom mentality. Call it whatever you like, as long as you face the fact that these people are slowly destroying your brand. Negativity breeds complacency. Complacency invites mediocrity and mediocrity is the death of restaurants.
Sometimes it's the most talented person on your team. You know the one, that superstar server or cook in the kitchen. The one who throws a tantrum during the middle of service and now you have to go out and apologize for their behavior. Do you really think this person is doing you any good?
It does not matter how good one person is if they are having a negative impact on your team. That negative person is driving away the other positive players on your team. When you allow a person control like that, it’s called “handcuffed management,” and it is a position you don't want to be in. The culture of any restaurant is shaped by the worst behavior you as an owner or manager are willing to put up with.
Talent might get your restaurant noticed. However, it's teamwork that will keep it there.
3. Give them growth. Invest in your people!
You hear it often, "People are our most valuable asset." However, many restaurants fail to invest in that motto. Here's the thing you need to understand, your restaurant is a living thing. It is molded and shaped by the actions you take as a leader, every day. The decorations, the paint, the lighting, the tabletops and all the thousand other little details that go into the decor is a fraction of what makes a restaurant come alive.
The brand image and the physical elements of a restaurant comprise its foundation. It’s the people that are in your restaurant, interacting with your customers, that give it its soul. It's sad that many restaurants treat training and team development so arbitrary. An initial orientation and maybe a two-week training program is the most the majority of restaurants put into the development of their most valuable asset.
Remember this, “People do not leave companies, they leave managers and owners.”
It is human nature to grow and evolve. If you fail to give that to your people then you are setting your restaurant up for failure. All great restaurants have three plans that they follow religiously:
A financial plan: They know their numbers and where their business is on a yearly, quarterly and daily basis.
A marketing plan: They don't take chances with driving customers to their restaurant. They market consistently for consistent traffic.
A training plan: They invest back into the growth and development of their staff. These leaders truly realize that restaurants get better when the people in them become better. Workshops and seminars are a great way to keep your team on top of their game.
There is a great saying that has been going around for years. The CFO in a big company asked the CEO this question, “What if we invest in developing our people and they leave?” The CEO quickly replies, “What if we don't and they stay?”
As the war for top talent in the restaurant industry gets tighter and tighter, you'll definitely need a game plan to ensure your restaurant gets the most out of each and every member on its team. These three tips are a perfect place to start.