What’s the key to a restaurant’s success? Is it the menu? The ambiance? The service?

Like any other business, your establishment’s greatest asset is your staff. The quality of your restaurant staff’s performance will dictate whether your place will hover around survival or take flight and make its mark in the industry.

The effects of poor performance

How does poor staff performance affect a restaurant?

Mismanaged or unhappy employees have a tendency to go through the motions. They’ll perform their assigned tasks with the sole purpose of earning their next paycheck. Most likely, they become clockwatchers, ready to make an exit at the end of their shifts.

Workers who perform poorly are more likely to mess up the team’s chemistry. A quiet kitchen is often a sign that your team is disconnected, and this can show in the team’s daily performance. Worse, disgruntled employees may protest to show their frustration and even pick fights with colleagues.

A high absenteeism rate can throw off the delicate balance in a restaurant. When an employee frequently calls in sick, your other employees need to pick up the slack. In turn, this can lead to the subpar performance of the team and even discontent among the staff who may have become overburdened.

Left unchecked, the unhappiness of employees can lead to a high turnover rate. Apart from affecting team chemistry, a high turnover rate can also translate to losses in the form of unsatisfied customers and additional costs in the form of recruitment and training.

Potential causes of poor performance

Poor performance does not come out of a vacuum. To a great extent, your management style breeds the team you have, whether it’s good or bad.

Does your restaurant have clear rules for its employees? Are these rules just and sensible? Are these even enforced strictly?

How do you communicate with your staff? Are your employees treated with respect and dignity? Or are they treated like paid laborers? How are mistakes handled?

Do you have a clear plan to ensure smooth operation, or do you take things as they come? Do your employees have a sensible work schedule that balances the personal needs of your staff with your establishment’s needs?

Have you invested in systems that will improve worker safety? Do you adhere to established guidelines for workplace safety?

Building a high-performing team

How do you avoid these woes and build a high-performing crew? Here are some helpful tips.

1. Start with your core values

Your restaurant’s core values encapsulate everything you stand for and care about. It defines your business and can positively impact different facets of your business, even your staff’s performance. In the face of adversity, your values can serve as a compass to guide in you the decisions that you need to make.

Well-defined and robust core values set apart successful restaurants from those that are barely surviving. Your values, along with your vision, provide something that your staff can rally around.

Plus, your core values, when communicated properly, can become an invaluable tool in attracting and retaining high-performing staff members.

2. Empower leaders

Effective leadership and reliable team performance go hand in hand. Whether you are handling the management of your restaurant or delegating specific responsibilities to key staff members, it is imperative to build a culture of strong leadership.

But what exactly does it mean to be a good leader, especially in a restaurant setting?

  • A good leader treats everyone with respect, no matter what his or her position is. With a clear vision and values, everyone is made accountable.
  • A good leader has the ability to muster collective action because team members are recognized for their individual contributions. In contrast, a bad leader takes credit for the actions of others.
  • A good leader puts the success of the team over individual accolades.

In short, the leader is the group’s linchpin that brings disparate parts together as a cohesive unit.

3. Lay down the ground rules

From the onboarding process, each employee must know his responsibilities as well as the regulations in the workplace.

Use your core values to define the things that you do not want to compromise. But at the same time, provide your workers with ample room for independence and creativity. When you find the right balance between these seemingly disparate elements, you empower your team because they are unafraid to commit mistakes. You give them the opportunity to strive not only for personal achievements, but also for team gains.

With the help of the team leader, recognize the achievements of good performers and find ways to further motivate employees who may be lagging behind.

Rising up to the challenge

Managing people with different backgrounds and goals will always be a challenge, especially in a fast-paced environment like a restaurant.

But by identifying your core values, empowering leaders, and laying down clear rules for your employees, you can develop a cohesive team that is ready and able to tackle different challenges.

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