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How to engage your hospitality team in learning after induction

Posted by Roger Beaudoin on Aug 29, 2018 8:12:00 AM
Roger Beaudoin

With so many moving parts and balls in the air, running a restaurant is a constant challenge. Effective owners and managers that practice consistent and constant training enjoy a true competitive advantage. This is what separates the best restaurants with a loyal following from those spinning their wheels wondering why their seats aren’t full. 

If your team provides customers with better service and amazing dining experiences, your restaurant will be rewarded with repeat business and five star online reviews. But to achieve this lofty goal, it's not enough to simply have an orientation or “on-boarding” program in the basics of the job. Continually testing and engaging staff in their learning are what will keep them on top of their game, and ensure the success of your business.

Here's how to get your team involved in a learning culture:

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Build your dream team

There are two types of employees that you want in your restaurant.  The ‘A’ team and ‘B’ team.

‘A-players’ have great personalities, have a true desire to serve the public and love being part of an exciting restaurant and a winning team. Their experience shines, they get along well with everyone and customers ask for them by their name each time they visit.

Your ‘B-team” have many of the same attributes as your ‘A’s, they just lack a little polish and practice. These team members can quickly become ‘A’s with training and more experience. ‘B’s are the future impressions for your restaurant. If your place has a ‘shadowing' approach, encourage ‘A’s to bring ‘B’s up to speed on technique and best practices. Soon your team will all be ‘A’s.

Many restaurants take the path of least resistance when hiring a new team member. Unfortunately, placing a "help-wanted" ad or a sign in the window is a sure-fire way to attract someone else’s ‘C’-team. Instead ask your ‘A’s and ‘B’s to suggest those they know that may fit the culture of your team.

Empowerment is the key

Once you have solid core-staff in place, consistent training, recognition and rewards are the key to building your own “dream-team”. It's as simple as recognizing weekly those that go above and beyond to solve guest problems, jump in to help other team members or make a positive difference. With this approach in place, empowering staff to think and act like owners has the greatest impact on the guest service experience .

Running a hospitality business involves thousands of details and even though your team gets hundreds of these details correct, it's the 10 that are missed which the customer always remembers. With all these guest impressions, it takes your entire staff to ensure they're consistently delivering great guest experiences. That's why the need for empowerment!  

Ensure your team focus on your guests

From the parking lot to the bar, bathrooms and dining areas, there are countless impressions waiting to be made. Light bulbs might be burned out, condiments and menus may be messy or there might be trash visible on your property.

If you train your team to notice, to see what the guest sees before they see it and to correct anything amiss within their ability, the guest experience benefits. Similarly, on the dining floor or in the back of house, the team member feels valued, while the customer no longer needs to wait for a manager to make the judgement call or rectify the situation.

Encourage team discussions and input

To ensure that you have a functioning and healthy team, it's important that your team regularly meets as a group to discuss successes, fails and how to improve service, quality and the overall guest experience. 

Staff contributions are invaluable and should be praised and even incentivized - if the idea leads to improvement. Brainstorming and encouraging progressive new ideas makes the workplace more fun and attractive to both staff and customers.


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Cross-train your staff to mix it up

Cross-training your staff to be versatile helps strengthen your team's performance, and allows them to be aware of each other's positions. Dishwashers could work the fry station, while saute cooks can practice on the grill. Hosts and servers can also try their hand at bartending.  

Doing this improves your restaurant on many levels. It keeps staff motivated and interested in their jobs, reduces labor costs and provides an effective back-up plan if a key-staff member is ill or injured.

Lead your team by example 

This approach is not entirely new for many operators and managers, but one that’s proven to make all the difference. If staff believe that their contributions matter and that their strong judgement is relied upon, they will go above and beyond to please guests and improve your restaurant.

Further, owners and managers that lead by example from the floor and not the back office will enjoy more fulfilling roles, fewer labor issues and lower turnover. They will also have more time to welcome and chat with loyal repeat customers.

Although everyone works for a paycheck, autonomy, praise and recognition are really what elevate the team to consistent top-performance, and is what encourages your team to continue learning and developing in the workplace.


Roger Beaudoin_170x170 Roger Beaudoin is the founder of the Sales Stars Staff Training Program and author of Rock Your Restaurant, a game-changing guide to restaurant finances’. He is a successful restaurant entrepreneur who founded and operated four high-volume restaurant/hospitality companies for over twenty years. Roger is also a noted industry speaker, the host of the Restaurant Rockstars PodcastLearn more at www.restaurantrockstars.com

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Topics: Hospitality managers, Hospitality training