If you’re a restaurateur dreaming of a cheerful workplace culture and a productive, engaged team in 2020, communication is the name of the game. To help you achieve your dreams, we’ve rounded up some of the latest and greatest team communication strategies.
Why Effective Team Communication Matters
Communication is the backbone of a successful restaurant. More than just team building, improving communication in the workplace improves overall outcomes and keeps your business running smoothly.
There’s no end to the list of problems that can manifest if your staff isn’t communicating effectively: customers may be misadvised about menu item availability, meals may be incorrectly prepped, and tensions between front-of-house and back-of-house can cause the entire atmosphere (and the quality of customer service) to suffer.
Along with an underwhelming guest experience, poor communication can also wreak havoc on retention rates. In a workplace happiness study conducted by 7shifts earlier this year, most employees that were ready to tender their resignation were underwhelmed by the communication policies (or lack thereof) at work. Further proof that something as simple as a team check-in or investing in digital communication tools can go a long way in terms of employee loyalty.
Two Types of Restaurant Communication Strategies: Online and Offline
It’s safe to say no restaurateur enjoys the stresses associated with managing interpersonal conflict or, worse yet, recruiting and onboarding new talent.
There are two sets of strategies to keep you as stress-free as possible: online restaurant communication strategies and offline restaurant communication strategies.
Download our Complete Guide to Restaurant Staff Management for more staffing tips.
Online Restaurant Communication Strategies
To improve and streamline team communication, savvy restaurateurs are finding new, engaging ways to apply new technology in their restaurants. This outside-the-box thinking not only boosts efficiency, it also does wonders for enhancing camaraderie and morale.
Your restaurant’s employee scheduling software is a perfect example. In addition to sending out digital schedules, many of these modern solutions also have baked-in communication platforms to do individual or group reach-outs. This is especially beneficial considering more than 60% of employees prefer to communicate with management by text or chat.
Your content needn’t be limited to next week’s schedule, though. Online communication tools can be used to vote on menu or drink names, brainstorm ideas, or share post-shift feedback. The more your staff feel like they have a say in how the restaurant operates, the likelier they are to stick around.
Another great example is your restaurant POS system. As handwritten orders approach extinction, investing in a full-bodied POS system is a must. Automating the process of submitting and processing orders reduces the margin for error and gives you access to real-time reports at the click of a button.
Offline Restaurant Communication Strategies
Technology is great, but it’s just as important to have systems in place for offline communication, too.
Even if you’re convinced your communication protocols are airtight, remember that your frontline staff may have an entirely different view. If you start to notice fault lines in communication between or within teams, making time to talk it out matters. What’s even more important is creating a space where staff openly and respectfully share their points of view.
Face-to-face meetings can take many forms. Here are a few examples:
When meeting one-on-one with a staff member, the most important thing to remember is to be present. Whether it’s a quarterly check-in, annual performance review, or a personalized training session, phubbing (snubbing someone by spending time on your smartphone) signals a lack of interest and, as a result, damages trust, so stay focused.
On-the-clock team meetings
Working in the restaurant business is as demanding as it is fast-paced. There is big value in being able to quickly notify your team of a new dress code via an all-staff instant message, but supplementing this with an in-person discussion will drastically improve uptake and willingness to change. Something else to consider is carving out time for staff to learn what life looks like on both sides of the house. The work of a dishwasher is entirely different to that of a lead bartender; showing (not just saying) that every voice matters strengthens the sense of kinship essential for a happy, healthy workplace.
After-hours team gatherings
Not every meeting has to be about work, nor should it be. Spending time together out of the office does wonders for morale. Try scheduling a monthly “field trip” for your team to go bowling, ax-throwing, or to the movies. Another option is to host seasonal menu-tasting parties or wine tasting and education sessions; after all, it’s a nice change of pace to be dining, not working. These types of team-building activities facilitate communication that will, ideally, extend to the workplace.
Outside of these scheduled sessions, make sure to keep your door open (literally and figuratively) for spur-of-the-moment conversations. This sends the message that you’re both available and interested in hearing from your staff. Big or small, an issue is still an issue.