4 teamwork tips from successful restaurant owners

There are countless studies linking motivation and teamwork to employee performance. Whether that motivation is external such as financial incentives, or the intrinsic satisfaction from a job well done, keeping your employees driven and engaged should sit high on your priority list.

Unsatisfied employees have a knack for sullying the customer experience and infecting your restaurant’s culture. Randy Smith, President of the Bottomline Hospitality Group says employee motivation and teamwork is one of the keys to restaurant success, “this business is a highly competitive grind.” He adds that, “you have to make others buy into your vision and make them want to be a part of something great.”

To take their restaurants to the next level, successful restaurant owners, like Smith, are quick to spot low team morale and employee disengagement based on the following occurrences

  • FOH and BOH bottlenecks due to poor communication
  • Internal divisions within the team
  • Lack of consideration for co-workers and their roles
  • Employees not working together as an effective team

Rather than waste their breath rehashing the importance of metrics, successful restaurant owners use teamwork as a strategy to meet sales goals and give their employees reasons to support one another.

Focus on motivating your employees by encouraging a culture of teamwork with these tips.

Incentivize teamwork

Employees like individual incentives, whether in the form of cash bonuses, extra breaks, or simple recognition. But another way to incentivize them is to make the entire team accountable for performance.

Say you’re offering a new incentive where for every five positive Yelp reviews your restaurant gets, or for every five feedback cards with positive comments, everyone gets an extra 10 minutes on their lunch breaks. Not only are your employees going to work for the extra downtime, but they’re also going to motivate each other to do better.

Why? Because as we all know, when it comes to customer service, one minor glitch can ruin an otherwise good experience, and no single individual wants to be the reason the whole team didn’t get that bonus time off.

Encourage teamwork through interdependence

Another way successful restaurant owners encourage teamwork is through relationship building.  Depending on where your team is at, you can start with activities to build a foundation of interdependence. Team activities like Mine Field and Human Spring are opportunities for your employees to earn trust among one another.

The key is to get your employees to support each other on the clock, so they earn reward outings and events off the clock. Once they do, you can still push your secret bonding agenda, which is the added bonus for you.

To reward their teamwork, you could do something as simple as a BYO team picnic or cater a dinner. Outdoor adventures are also alternative team-builders. Nothing helps employees develop trust like sending them off on a wild scavenger hunt.

Gather feedback from your team

Your employees also want to feel like they have a collective voice when it comes to airing grievances. No single employee wants to be that person to complain about a universal source of employee discontent, but if you encourage your employees to share their feedback as a team, identifying existing problems becomes a constructive process.

Need some help gathering employee feedback? Homebase offers the ability to seamlessly collect employee comments in your scheduling dashboard. In a world where so many employees are on the receiving end of the feedback cycle, shifting things around is a nice change.

Asking for feedback shows your employees you care, and that their opinions matter. And if your team members are encouraged to offer feedback as a group, they’ll be less inhibited as they go about it.  

Get everyone involved

Employees like to feel not just appreciated, but needed. If you help your employees feel like they’re decision-makers and drivers in your business, they’ll be more motivated.

Poll your team regularly for suggestions, or hold weekly or monthly team brainstorming sessions, where your employees can bounce ideas off of you and one another. It’s a double win, because you might get some creative suggestions out of the process, but just as importantly, you’ll be encouraging your employees to think like a team.

Incidentally, this strategy works well when coupled with incentives—as in, come up with a great idea as a team, and you’ll be rewarded as a team.

Motivating employees doesn’t—and shouldn’t—just happen on a one-on-one basis. Fostering a team environment means your employees are getting motivated not just by you, but by each other. What are some other things that have kept your restaurant competitive? Let us know in the comments below!

Need help communicating with your staff? Homebase’s Team Communication app helps connect everyone in one place. Sign up today!

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