7 restaurant teamwork tips from successful owners

Unsatisfied employees have a knack for sullying the customer experience and negatively affecting your restaurant’s culture, which can lead to business losses. Randy Smith, President of the Bottomline Hospitality Group says employee motivation and teamwork are key 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 improve operations, meet sales goals, and encourage their employees to support one another. Great teamwork in a restaurant can positively affect the bottom line. 

Why teamwork in restaurants is important

Teamwork in restaurants requires a high level of communication and understanding between the front of the house, wait staff, and kitchen staff. Effective teamwork in restaurants makes for happier and more productive employees, a better experience for customers, and leads to increased profits for the business.

Keeping your employees engaged and driven should be on top of your priorities as a business owner. Motivated employees that work in a positive and team-driven environment are more likely to perform better. 

There are countless studies linking motivation and teamwork to employee performance in restaurants, all of which make a case for the importance of teamwork in a company, especially in the often intense restaurant industry.

Tips to improve teamwork in restaurants

If you want to experience the positive effects of teamwork in your restaurant, you should foster a culture of teamwork. Good team building does not only come from your employees but stems from competent restaurant management providing the grounds for a positive work environment. After all, good communication in restaurants should be a common goal for every member of the team.

Tip 1: 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.

Tip 2: 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 an 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.

Tip 3: 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.  

Tip 4: 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.

Tip 5: Trust your team

Your staff members are adults and should be treated as such. Micromanaging your staff and looking over their shoulder at every step signals distrust and can lead to resentment. Instead, set specific goals and trust your employees to use the tools and opportunities you provide to reach these goals. 

Should a member of your team struggle or underperform, you can always provide help and encourage them to lean on other members of your team. This way, they can feel more like a part of a team that has their back, while other members of staff can share the joy of helping someone in need. 

Tip 6: Encourage progression

No employee likes feeling like they are stuck in their career. That’s why you should make sure that even experienced members of staff still learn something from their time at your business. 

You can provide regular training sessions on different aspects of your business that members of your staff can voluntarily attend to either further their knowledge of their current role or gain insights into other parts of the restaurant. 

This promotes growth within individual employees and offers a better understanding of the kind of work other members of the staff experience, which can improve empathy and result in better teamwork down the line. 

Tip 7: Identify and remove barriers

No matter how many staff nights and team-building exercises you go through, there can always be barriers to preventing efficient communications and team building within a restaurant. 

Do you notice certain members of staff refusing to communicate or help out at busy times? Does your internal communication system not reach all relevant members of staff? Identifying the exact thing standing in the way of teamwork in your business is not always easy, but it can make the crucial difference needed to improve the work experience for every member of the team. 

Use employee feedback and your own perception to remove these barriers. That will improve communication until another barrier is encountered, which again needs to be identified and removed. Doing so is not always an easy process, but it ultimately leads to improved happiness across the board.


Motivating employees doesn’t—and shouldn’t—just happen on a one-on-one basis. Fostering a team environment means your employees are motivated not just by you, but also by each other. What are some other things that have kept your restaurant business 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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