Article contributed by Ben Farber
It’s almost hard to believe that we’re already seven months into 2021! As we look to embrace a summertime characterized by concerts, barbecues, vacations, and parties, it’s jarring how very different it all feels from just one year ago.
Our work was challenged over the course of that year, with so many lives turned upside-down. Whole industries were disrupted, and food service falls notably high on the list of those impacted. As our restaurants return, it’s clearer than ever that foodservice is just that: a service, and one that relies first and foremost on the amazing people who make up our teams. How can we bring them back to work after everything that’s happened, and set everyone up for success –– especially in the midst of a massive, nation-wide hiring shortage?
At Bristol Associates, I have the pleasure of working with incredible people who are deeply skilled in foodservice, tourism, and hospitality. I see how those industries rest fully on the shoulders of amazing teams. It’s inspiring!
Let’s jumpstart your team dynamic this summer, and return to service with enthusiasm and success. Here are my top four tips for giving your staff that key boost.
Good vibes, please!
It’s been a hard year. We’ve had to rethink…everything, really, and we’ve lost a lot of wonderful businesses, partners, and coworkers. In the wake of so many difficult moments, it might seem hard to meet your team with positivity –– but that’s exactly what they need.
Whether you’re seeking to connect with new hires or working with talent you know and love, your optimism shows. What matters most is not a perfectly streamlined return to operations, but how we approach difficulties when they inevitably arise. We should anticipate challenges as we recalibrate, and be ready with the attitude and energy to rally our teams with an upbeat spirit.
Dig deeper into how positive psychology can boost your leadership and your team with this great collection of resources. It’s time to focus on good things to come!
Lead with listening.
I have waxed poetic over the last few months about how essential it is to be a good listener, and it’s especially critical in the busy world of restaurants. When taking the time for a team meeting or a one-on-one might seem crazy in a jam-packed workplace, it pays back over and over again. In fact, when we polled subscribers to the Bristol newsletter, 62% chose “communication and listening” as their leaders’ most valuable skill.
With first-hand experience and knowledge gained directly from our customers, our teams can offer insight worth its weight in gold. Our people are our most critical touchpoint in service: they hold the power to make or break individual experiences. So put aside a moment to talk with them, and to learn from them. Inquire. Get everyone involved. Watch the magic happen.
And remember to really pay attention to what they’re telling you –– as leadership expert Fiona Robertson writes, it’s essential to “listen for meaning…not just for the facts.”
Honest to goodness!
Do you like the new service flow? Are you getting what you need? How is everything working for you? Be direct, transparent, and straightforward, and respect the answers you receive.
By crafting a comfortable, honest baseline for communication, you’ll build a rock-solid team on a foundation of trust. For example, Nixie Sparkling Water Founder Nicole Bernard Dawes values her team’s input so much that she makes a culture of transparency a key part of building her product. Go that extra mile to be sure everyone feels included. Help both new hires and established team veterans feel that they’re on the same page, and that they can be honest with you.
We’re trying to improve more than product right now, too: management teams across industries are working to recalibrate our experience in the American workplace. With modern benefits ranging from Peloton memberships to pet insurance, every team is different. Ask them directly, and make it easy for them to tell you. Success is all about working together.
Celebrate small wins.
It’s so easy to laser focus on ways we can do better: delivering a superior product, streamlining a process, delighting a customer. Trust me, improvements are important, but instilling a sense of competence in your staff is equally essential.
Criticism and constructive feedback find a much more open, willing audience when paired with, well, the good stuff. So take the time to recognize and celebrate your victories! From small successful moments to triumphs over major challenges, acknowledging progress does more than just make us all feel good: it makes us hungry for more, and it boosts our confidence, too.
Check out these other ways to boost your team’s motivation and build momentum from the experts at TED while you’re at it!
Ben Farber represents the 3rd generation of proud family ownership of Bristol Associates. He joined the firm in 2003 with an initial focus in the Casino Gaming Division. Currently, Ben remains very involved with Bristol’s diverse range of clients, as well as overseeing the operations of the firm. Ben has worked in every department at the company. This unique experience gives him a complete view of the business and a distinct understanding of all aspects of Bristol’s operations, including expert talent recruitment for facilities and concessions, food and beverage manufacturing, restaurants and foodservice, travel and tourism, and so much more. Learn more about Ben and his work at Bristol Associates here.