Employees Are Team Members: Turn Have-to-Work into Teamwork

The only thing that stands between success and failure is a great team. And as the saying goes, the strength of each team is in each individual member — the strength of each member? In the team. So, how do you build a better team? In this episode of "Rock My Restaurant," show hosts William Bender and Eric Norman lay down the best practices for management and staffing.

New uniforms, new training techniques, new table manners, new approach — where does a brand begin when reinvigorating its service? The first step is to remember that the hospitality industry is one of people serving people. The human aspect is one that cannot be lost.

"People are so important in our industry. The old terminology is 'staff,' 'personnel.' Nowadays, we want team members," Bill said.

What Does Team Mean?

What is the defining difference in the word alone? When employees feel like a team member, they feel as though they are a part of something, compared to someone who just has to be there, Eric explained. So, how does the team member experience fit into the model of the restaurant business and what can operators do to incorporate this mentality?

Cultivating a Team Environment

The One-Minute Manager. This concept, which began as a book by Kenneth Blanchard, Ph.D., and Spencer Johnson, M.D., states the number one motivator is feedback on performance. Managers, executives, owners, and operators should focus on team members doing something right, as opposed to only addressing the things that go wrong. When leaders build on that, positive reinforcement generates productivity due to the happiness of employees. 

Environment Dictates Turnover. Poor training and unfit hires lead to a turnover rate of 20 to 30 percent year over year, with an average cost of $1,800-2,000 per turnover. Onboarding and weeks of training over and over again leads to a lot of wasted man hours. The key is to take away the anxiety from the first day and encourage a welcoming environment. By setting the standard of a welcoming environment, team members are encouraged to soldier through the challenges.

Comfort is Key. Something as simple as comfortable uniforms when moving between hot kitchen and cold dining room temperatures, specific team member restrooms, and team member storage areas go a long way. Extra steps to ensuring ergonomic design compounds into employee productivity. 

Incentive Programs. Customers aren't the only ones who should get rewarded. Mini-contests and other incentives boost team member morale and makes each individual feel as though they are are being acknowledged for their efforts in creating the best customer experience. When team members feel as though they are not taken for granted, they are more likely to be motivated and less likely to seek other opportunities, which is directly tied to less turnover and costs to the operator.

Watch the full episode to learn how to turn your restaurant staff into your team.