Ways to Make Your Restaurant Staff Awesome

10 Tips for Boosting Team Morale

Waitress smiling and serving a pair of happy customers
 Hero Images/Getty Images

Many restaurant owners open their own restaurants because they like to cook or want to work for themselves. Few realize how important the HR component is to running a restaurant. It doesn't matter how great your food or location is; if your restaurant's staff are not friendly and competent, customers are not likely to come back.

Inspiring the right attitude and work ethic in your staff is as critical your restaurant's success as a great menu and the perfect atmosphere. Read on for some tips for bringing out the best in your team.

Model the Behavior You Want to See

As the owner or manager of a restaurant, you are in charge. And whether you like it or not, you are giving your staff permission to act as you do. If you come into work in a bad mood and treat people poorly, guess how your staff is going to act? On the other hand, if you come into work with a smile and a good attitude, it’s likely your staff will model that behavior.

Have Fun at Staff Meetings

Inject staff meetings with some fun when you can. Use icebreakers and some easy team building activities to encourage team members to get comfortable with each other. They only take a few minutes and will set a good tone for the meeting, not to mention build a bond among your staff.

Reward Your Employees

Encourage some healthy competition among your waitstaff. For example, see who can get the highest check averages each week or month. Or, if you use comment cards, offer some sort of reward for staff who get good customer feedback. You can look at social media for positive feedback, too. As for the reward—it doesn’t always have to be money. You could give movie tickets or a gift certificate to other local businesses as a reward for the person with the most positive comments.

Don’t Be Cheap

The waitstaff is the front line of your restaurant. They deal with unhappy customers, even if the problem is out of their control. If the kitchen takes a long time to get an order out and the customer is unhappy, guess whose tip is going to suffer? Not the sous chef's or the line cook's. By keeping customers happy, you are also going to keep your servers happy. The next time a customer complains, authorize your waitstaff to offer a freebie, like a dessert or a beer on the house.

Show Respect to All Staff

Restaurants may have hierarchies, but every person on your staff is integral to the day-to-day operations and overall success of the business. Be sure that you are respectful toward each and every one of them, and that they are respectful to each other.

Get to Know Your Employees

Ask your staff about their personal lives—kids, hobbies, and interests. Show them that you see them as more than just a cook, server, or dishwasher. Employees who feel a personal connection to you and their co-workers will be much more likely to do their best work.

Address Problems Quickly

Conflicts between staff are inevitable. Someone doesn’t think it’s fair they don’t get a good section on Friday night. Another person is always trying to get out of their Monday night shift. Whatever the issue, address it sooner rather than later, so it doesn’t breed more problems.

Encourage Fun at Work

Running a business is serious stuff. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn't have fun while you're doing it. Don’t be afraid to joke with staff and customers. A spirit of fun at work will encourage a positive attitude even during challenging, busy shifts.

Ask Your Staff’s Opinion

Ask for suggestions for ways to improve your restaurant. They can be about the menu, promotional ideas, company policies, or colors for the restrooms. Set up a process—it can be as simple as a suggestion box with slips of paper—and review the suggestions once a week. You may find that your staff has great ideas. Plus, they will feel a greater sense of ownership when you implement one of their proposals.

Say "Thank You"

Thanking your employees is probably the easiest thing you can do, yet it's so often overlooked. Be liberal with your thank yous to show staff that you truly appreciate the work they do. A staff that feels appreciated will give you their best.