5 Musts to Get the Most From Your Team

haute cuisine

By Donald Burns, Foodable Industry Expert

First things first, if you want to get more from your team, you need a couple fundamental requirements: A. You need a team, and B. You need to be the leader.

It’s easy to pull some people to work together and call them a team. Throw in a boss to bark orders, and you’re all set, right? Well, most restaurants sadly think this is teamwork and the way they get more from people is by employing an outdated management theory called “carrots and sticks,” or rewards and punishments. If you do good, you get the carrot. Do bad and you get the stick.

While the theory does work, it only works on the surface and temporarily. After a while, the attractiveness of the carrot loses its luster and you’ll have to make the reward bigger. It’s not sustainable for the long-term growth of your business. Managers love this tool. When it doesn't work, then they call the employee into the office for a one-on-one talk. Rewards are motivating, if they are the right reward. The issue in most restaurants is they all think that money is the reward most people want. Not true. Some crave education, time off, and just being recognized for doing an outstanding job.

To get the most from your team, you need to get the most from yourself.

What? Are you saying I can't just come in to bark orders, give out a few carrots, and dole out punishment when they don't comply? Not if you want to build a high-performance team. Now, if you like high turnover and inconsistent service in your restaurant, then by all means, stay with carrots and sticks.

In order to get more from yourself, you’ll need to up your game as a leader. Remember that a manager just manages the shift while a leader gets out in front of the team and leads. Here are five things you need to understand in order to get more from yourself:

1. You must understand the Pygmalion effect.

The Pygmalion effect (also known as the Rosenthal effect) is a principle that resonates with the Law of Attraction. What you expect, you tend to get. Now, that might sound a little Pollyanna and fluffy BS however, it is backed by research.

In 1964, a Harvard psychologist by the name of Robert Rosenthal visited Spruce Elementary School in San Francisco. He administered standard IQ tests on the students and told the teacher that some of the students would bloom academically. Just as he predicted, the students he selected did exceed. What the teacher did not know was that Rosenthal chose the students randomly.

The mind is like a rudder in the sense that what you expect, you tend to get, much like a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you think your staff is lazy, then you tend to have lazy staff. If you think your staff is a bunch of thieves, you’ll probably will have a few in your business. Seek and you truly will find.

How do you fix that? First, believe in yourself. Everything in your outside world is first created in your inner world. It starts with your thoughts and beliefs. All leadership starts with self-leadership. If you cannot lead yourself, then how do you expect to lead others? If you do not take responsibility for your thoughts and beliefs, they will spill over into your actions.

When you believe in something, you can bring it to life. We all want someone who believes in us. One of the greatest motivational speakers of all times is Les Brown. His own story is a mirror of the Pygmalion Effect. Labeled incapable of being educated, he bought into the story. Years later, another teacher challenged that belief and told him that he believed in Les. He has never forgotten that moment and shares that message today with millions. That message: There is greatness within you.

How would your team change if you changed your expectations of them? What if you commonly told people on your team that you believe in them and they had something amazing inside of them just waiting to rise up and shine in the world? What if you look for the good in people? Being a cynic is easy. Easy will never make you a leader. Easy will never allow you to get more from your team.

2. You must answer this question: Do you go to work or become the work?

What drives you? Why do you go to the restaurant every day? When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. Do you go to work or do you become the work?

When you go to work, is just a job? When you become the work, it becomes a mission and a driving force. Famous restaurateur Cameron Mitchell recalls the pivotal moment in his life when he had a change in the way he viewed his job at a restaurant. He was a line cook at a restaurant and it was a typical chaotic Friday night, when all of a sudden he had a deep realization that he actually loved the chaotic tempo of service.

He went home that evening and mapped out his career goals. He was so excited that he even woke his mother up in the middle of the night to tell her. Some of his goals seemed unachievable and unrealistic. That didn’t stop him at all. In fact, it lit a fire within. That night, he made a shift from going to work to becoming the work. When you can make that mental shift, you become unstoppable.

"Deep within man dwell those slumbering powers; powers that would astonish him, that he never dreamed of possessing; forces that would revolutionize his life if aroused and put into action." — Orison Swett Marden

3. You must become a core values advocate.

Being a leader means setting the standards and following them yourself. Leaders back their talk with action and by setting the example. That core values poster you have hanging in the office or written down in your employee handbook are great. However, do you live those values in your actions every day at the restaurant?

Core values have to be a living embodiment of who you are as a leader. If you don’t step up and live your company’s core values, then they are just meaningless words on a piece of paper. The issue is that a lot of restaurants write down some fluffy core values and share them with the team one time in order to cross “come up with company core values” off their to-do list. Shame.

Restaurants that connect with their core values create a culture that becomes a beacon and compass for their brand. Without solid core values, your restaurant just kind of drifts along in the market with no clear sense of direction. They are lost. Some restaurants wander along for years in this state. Surviving. Breaking even. High turnover. They never get to a point where they truly thrive as a business.

Of course, that won’t happen to you because you know your core values, right? When you know your core values, your duty as a leader is to get up and preach about them every day. Get up on your soapbox and talk to your team about what the core values of your organization mean to you. Be a living example by showing them those core values in action. You must let your light shine through in order to cast light upon others.

4. You must communicate more than you think is needed.

Whatever you think you are doing for communication within your team is probably not enough. Seriously. We tend to think that sending an email, text message, or posting a memo on the employee bulletin board is communication. Well, it is communication — but it’s also not very effective. The reason? There is no tone in those forms of communication. Thirty-eight percent of how we communicate is by tone alone. That’s a pretty big number. Be honest: Have you ever received a text, read it, and were upset by it? When you asked the person about it, they say
“Oh, that’s not what I meant.” It happens all the time.

Issues start to arise when we use non-personal forms of communication as our primary way to communicate. It starts to erode vital people skills are required to be finely-tuned in the restaurant industry. One of the common complaints about Millennials is that they are lacking in face-to-face communication skills. You think? Look at a group of Millennials sitting in a restaurant, all on their smart phones texting, posting, or using Snapchat. While the Internet has opened the world to us, it also simultaneously isolates us. That is why live video streams are so popular. It’s all about connection.

So instead of the text message, email, and boringly written memo (that most of your team won’t read anyway), have a personal conversation and use those tools to reinforce your message. Oh, and don’t think just because you said it once that it is going to sink into your team. Unfortunately, most people need to be reminded of the information over and over for it to sink in. And if you believe that if they don’t get the first time they are just stupid, please go back and reread the part about the Pygmalion effect.

5. You must give the team time.

Everyone learns at a different pace and style. Some people are more auditory in the sense that you can tell them about it and they can pick it up. Some are visual in the sense that they can watch and replicate the task. Others are kinesthetic and need to have hands-on time with a certain skill to master it.

A lot of people make the common mistake of teaching or training in the style that they learn. You need to make an adjustment for other people. We also tend to underestimate the time it will take for our team to learn new skill sets. You are setting yourself up for disappointment if your training is weak and your expectations are high. It doesn’t work like that.

Danny Meyer from Union Square Hospitality uses what he calls constant, gentle pressure. It’s the duty of the leader to constantly remind the team of the standards and to use gentle pressure to reinforce the standards. Once again, you need to hold yourself to higher standards than you expect from anyone else. To truly get the most from your team, you must be willing to push yourself farther first. There is a common saying that “leaders eat last,” which is true. However, they are also the first to step up and set the example.