High performing restaurant teams
02 December 2014

How do I train my staff to respond the way I would?

Consider this:  If guests wait a long time for a table, and the Manager sends over a complementary round of drinks, with gracious thanks, the serving staff will likely react with the same sense of “making the customer happy” and may feel equally empowered to follow through in kind. Similarly, a Manager oblivious to his guests’ frustration sets a poor example for his staff on how to treat guests. In the absence of clear communications on the subject, the staff will act on their own assumptions of how best to handle the situation. Let’s hope it’s better than the oblivious Manager!

Herein lies the source of many communication breakdowns, according to Invision’s Strategic Partner, Philippe Denichaud: Managers may say “always put the guest first” but are they sure their staff understands what putting the guest first means? Have they explained it with clear examples? Have they asked if staff understand their explanation and helped to correct and instruct them when necessary?  Equally important, do these Managers practice what they preach, whether it’s serving the customer or interacting with their staff?

Repeated research studies shows that the majority of communication breakdowns relate to miscommunication of intent. In the fast-paced, competitive restaurant industry, where the smallest details matter, there is little room for communications to fail. Organizations that spend significant time time honing communications and clarifying their expectations and the intent of those expectations, have a much higher likelihood of developing high performing, hospitality-attuned staff.

One of the biggest challenges for any management team, but one that leads to serious competitive edge, is developing a work environment where staff feel comfortable and safe asking for help. Creating a “comfort zone” where vulnerability is allowed and questions are encouraged is often lacking.  Even in top performing organizations, Managers may assume everything is clear, simply because no one is asking for help!

So, encouraging staff to ask for help is just as important as training them in service protocols or food menu preparations if you really want staff to learn how to respond, how to think the way you do about hospitality!

Another way many top restaurants monitor their service delivery and measure improvements, is through mystery shopping and training programs.  Our shopping programs allow clients to test staff on a continuing basis on challenging or subtle points of hospitality. These reports are a neutral guidepost to help managers talk with staff individually and as a team about their understanding of hospitality and discuss how they can improve their performance. In partnership with Denichaud Consulting, Invision Consulting also offers workshops on developing communication skills and self-awareness that allow managers and staff to better appreciate how to ask and respond to challenges and a culture of mutual trust.