Managers: How to Handle Teachable Moments

As a leader, your primary responsibility is help your employees become better versions of themselves. That often includes coaching employees through teachable moments.

These moments can be delicate. If handled properly, teachable moments can bring a team closer together. The converse is also true. They can drive a wedge between management and employees if they are handled poorly.

When you spot one, don’t pass on the opportunity to invest. Here are three tips to help you coach-up your employees and strengthen your team.


  1. Never talk down to an employee

This is the most important thing to remember while handling a teachable moment. Forbes published an article detailing the things managers should never say to an employee.

As soon as you start talking down to an employee is the moment you begin to lose your team. That employee will almost surely tell other team members about how you handled the situation, which could drive a wedge between you and your staff.

Instead, be encouraging. Tell the employee about the good things they are doing before gently reminding them of what they could do better. This will go a long way in keeping that employee in a good, hard-working mindset.


  1. Timing is everything

There is a time to teach and there is a time to lead. A time to teach could be during a lull in service, whereas a time to lead is during the service. Conflating these two times could spell disaster for both the shift and your team.

If you find a teachable moment during service, write it down for later. Jumping into a teachable moment during service can both disrupt the flow of service and embarrass the employee you are teaching.

Wait until you have time to take the employee aside and explain to them what you saw. No one wants to be belittled in front of their peers.


  1. Compliment risk taking

One common teachable moment often occurs when an employee takes a risk and the reward doesn’t pan out. This can come in the form of adding a new dish to the menu or pairing a new wine with an existing dish.

There’s nothing wrong with taking risks, and, in fact, it should be encouraged. A 2013 study by Blessing White showed that 74 percent of managers don’t encourage enough risk taking.

However, if you discourage risk taking, your employees may never know the heights they can reach.

Tell your employees that you respect their desire to take risks to make the restaurant better. Be sure to be transparent about your thoughts on the risk taken as well. This will help build trust between you and your staff that is irreplaceable.


  • Subscribe to our latest insights


Are you capital raise ready?