Conflict Can Create Chaos

A well functioning team is an enviable asset in the restaurant industry. It’s important to manage the delicate balance of employees with big personalities who also have consistent rockstar performance. Retention is key to customer satisfaction as well as reducing the cost of continual hiring and on-boarding. Typically people that are passionate about their work are often just as passionate about their opinions. They can be unapologetic about their work habits which likely work for them. Conflicts can and most likely will arise. The best defense is a good offense as they say in football. Know that conflict will happen and when it does, be prepared.

Team Huddles Set the Stage for Stellar Performance
A huddle is different than a formal meeting. A huddle takes 5 to 10 minutes and the entire team should attend. Everyone can spare 5 minutes and it’s in their best interest to do so. Kitchen staff, servers, bussers, bartenders and the host should all be present. Share tips and tricks. Give a summary of the previous service. Use the sandwich approach to deliver tough information. It depends on the culture of your team. You can either be direct or indirect. It’s likely that everyone knows everything in a restaurant so there’s usually no reason to tiptoe around information. The sandwich approach starts with a positive message, delivers a tough message and closes with a positive message. It’s a powerful tool. An example is: “we had a great service yesterday, our average order amount has been its highest yet. However since Francis was a ‘no call, no show’ we were all a little stretched and it was a bit stressful. Just as a reminder, ‘no call no show’ is generally grounds for immediate dismissal. Everyone gets a pass, things happen. However, we cannot have this happen consistently. Luckily we got a good Yelp review and that’s a strong testament to our team. We figure it out, no matter what. Let’s make sure we support each other and work smart, not hard”

Have a grounding statement that keeps the team focused. It might be “we’re here to prepare amazing food, have a good time, make some money and provide stellar service.” Hiring managers can use this statement in their interviews, it will help attract employees that want to work in the culture you’re creating. The statement can be used to kick off meetings and training sessions as well. Repetition of the statement will start to become the mantra. The employees will be able to rally around the statement and understand where they fit in. The kitchen may not be part of the tip pool however they likely love what they do and are proud of the food they create. Just about everyone likes to have fun. Your statement will become a memorable tagline. If you have a formal statement for your organization support the mission of the company by using the organization’s mission statement.

Conflict Will Arise.  Anything that can happen, likely will happen. People will argue, someone will take someone’s lunch, someone will call off, they might date and then break up. When conflict bubbles to the top a way to get the team aligned is to focus on what they can agree on. This skill takes some practice. To follow through on the previous example, ‘when Francis was a no call no show’ you made less money. How often has he done this in the last year? This was the only time. Everyone gets one pass . . . remember when you needed . . . ”  The ability to influence positive conflict resolution can mitigate potential lawsuits and disagreements from escalating. The Center for Conflict Resolution, a non-profit organization in Chicago, teaches conflict resolution as an alternative to pursuing legal action.  No one really wants to be in court. People usually work in the industry because they want to ‘prepare amazing food, have a good time, make some money and provide stellar service.’


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