Build a staff team in your Restaurant

Dear Hotel Coach

I run a city centre restaurant. Several members of staff frequently turn up late and lie for each other when I ask if they I know the whereabouts of their colleagues. How can I get them to work for and not against me?

Max – Leeds

Dear Max,
If it helps – what you are experiencing is not unique to you; these are an industry-wide problems that many of your peers frequently encounter (C&HC 8th December 2005).You are in a tough business and everyone in it knows these issues.

The first thing I would offer is to shift your own attitude. See the staff not as people working either for or against you – but with you. I know this sounds clichéd, but if you can alter your work concept and adopt a team approach matters will improve. Once you have accepted the idea you will need to get it across to the others. When they have subsequently bought into it they will need to recognise that you are the leader.

Common goals make a team. Players only become a team when they have something to gain in common. Your initial task is to find out what people want (WIIFM = What’s In It For Me) and work with them to blend these wants with yours. Let them express their views, listen to them and take their concerns on-board. Be sure that you are seen to be doing your best to understand them. People usually need simple things and you may be able to oblige without pain e.g. if they want to swap shifts without your prior permission why not consider it?

Have an open forum in which each person has three minutes to say what he or she wants. Be objective and hold back your reactions – you will hear people criticising each other and you. By acting as calm facilitator you will enhance your own reputation and allow the group members to ‘offload’.

Divide responsibility equally. Once everybody knows there are changes afoot get as many as possible to feel they are at the vanguard. Avoid implementing either from above or by stealth (changing rules without consultation). Run with some of their resolutions quickly (to demonstrate your new attitude) and ‘car park ‘ those you are unsure of. This does not mean dismiss them altogether, but buy yourself time by logging them for future debate.

Reward achievements. Set landmarks on your success route and celebrate when you reach them. For instance once you have gone for a whole week with 100 per cent staffing congratulate the team by adding £100 to the tip pool.

Thank prime movers. Who has championed the cause? Give them an enhanced role and make them feel special.

Invest in the ‘rest’. Don’t let the lesser-motivated fall away. Having found your special players you need to increase their number. Get them to work with you in building a positive group. Avoid telling and forcing and allow people time to come around to the new era.

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