A wise man once said that you can have the best team in the business, but they’re worth nothing if they’re not motivated.
That wise man was me, and I said it just now.
All hilarious jokes aside, that statement is no less true. The fact is, you can have the best team around, on paper, but if they’re not on board with what you’re trying to achieve, they’re not worth the paper your roster’s written on (or the digital space your roster inhabits #noplanetb).
So, what happens when you find yourself in this particular pickle?
You get working on bringing your team around to your way of thinking to make sure that everyone, from management to dishy, is pulling in the same direction.
Here, I’ll run the rule over the best ways to motivate your staff so that your team of champions can become the champion team of your dreams!
- Your FOH staff are the face of your business
- Happy staff work harder
- Keep a level playing field
- No job is too small
- Stay humble
- Strategic delegation
- Give them control of your socials
- Utilise your team’s other skills
- Praise your staff
- Avoid clichéd team building activities
- Make your staff feel like family
- Get active
- Consult your team
- Keep a strong backbone when needed
Struggling with staff retention?
Our Hospitality Recruitment eGuide has everything you need to know about assembling a dream team and keeping a hold of them.
Why Front of House (FOH) staff are important to be kept happy
This one is fairly obvious, but I’ll run through a few things, just to make sure we’re all on the same page here.
1. Your FOH staff are the face of your business
It’s that plain & simple. No amount of press shots of you and your business partners can change the fact that the faces your day-to-day customers associate with your business are your team and if you want to convey an image of a happy workplace, you’d better ensure your FOH staff are actually happy, because happiness (especially at work) is a tough thing to fake.
2. Happy staff work harder
There’s also the factor of how a happy staff member will be more motivated to go above and beyond, versus a staff member who’s just going through the motions.
I always liked to put myself in their shoes and think back to times where I had a manager who treated me well, and how I would just try harder for them purely because they made me feel good about my work. Put this against memories of the managers that gave me what I assume was intended as (at best) tough love, or (at worst) their own personal power-trip, and the difference in motivation was night & day.
Strategies to keep FOH happy
3. Happy staff work harder
Rule number 1 for keeping your staff happy is probably the most important and it’s a crucial one to implement as early as possible in the relationship: never ask them to do something that you wouldn’t do yourself.
I always hated getting asked to do things by managers who either thought themselves too important to get their hands dirty, or plain incapable of doing it themselves. It made me feel devalued—less than—and it planted the seed very early for a lack of respect both ways.
4. No job is too small
I combatted this by showing any staff under my management that I was above no job. Cleaning toilets? Where’s the brush? Polishing cutlery? Pass the vinegar. Helping with the dishes? I’ve already got my rubber apron on.
5. Stay humble
If your staff see you doing the dirty work, it shows them you have humility and a good work ethic. I’m not saying you do these jobs every day, but jump in and do them once a week, if only to minimise any divides there might be in your team because no matter your rank, you’re still part of the same team.
How to keep staff motivated
Now that your staff are happy and motivated, you have to keep them happy and motivated. But how?
6. Strategic delegation
A simple way of keeping your team motivated is via some strategic delegation.
Make a list of tasks that you can pass onto somebody in your team and give them ownership of it. It can be as simple as keeping the pastry cabinet stocked and tidy, or as pivotal as ordering supplies each week.
Whatever it is, you’ll need an element of trust in their ability to perform the task. Make sure they’re trained thoroughly, go through it with them a couple of times and then step back.
7. Give them control of your socials
Do you have any idea how many creatives work in hospo? The place is teeming with them and odds are there’s more than a couple in your team. Giving one of them (or some) the reins to your socials not only lets them know that you trust them, but it also shows them that you acknowledge the creativity that defines them and gives them an outlet to use that gift for the benefit of your business.
8. Utilise your team’s other skills
And it doesn’t have to stop there. If your team members are studying (again, a lot of students in hospo) take an interest in what they’re studying and if it’s something that can benefit your business (and they don’t mind helping you out), give them control and let ‘em rip!
9. Praise your staff
Another way to motivate your team is so basic, it’s almost forgotten: plain old praise.
Did your staff member do a good job? Tell them! Never underestimate the power of positive reinforcement. And it can be as little as sharing a picture of their latte art or plating on the business’ Instagram. Your recognition of their good work is worth more than you know and it only strengthens the relationships within your team.
Team building ideas
Does anybody else cringe a little when they hear the phrase “team building”? Yeah, you’re not alone.
There’s a bit of a stigma around professional team building thanks to the soulless versions we see in the corporate world (not at Lightspeed, obviously, I love my job) and TV shows like The Office which have almost built a legacy on highlighting them.
10. Avoid clichéd team building activities
Team building in hospo is a very different proposition.
This is because we know how to cultivate a good time. No trust falls or awkward meet & greets here, just memorable sessions on the company card (usually).
Now, I’m not saying every team building exercise has to be a blowout where the only takeaways are a sensitive head and a vague flashback of terrible karaoke (although that’s always a good start), you can do things with a little more finesse, if you like.
11. Make your staff feel like family
One of the best examples of this were the times where my old boss would invite everyone around to his parent’s house and we’d spend an afternoon/evening drinking incredible local wines and making pizzas.
Being invited into such a personal space made everyone feel like they were part of the family. It was an incredibly cool thing for him to do and it garnered genuine affection from most of us.
And please, invite partners and kids too (if appropriate). It only adds to strengthen that family feel.
12. Get active
Another workplace had weekly football games proving that you didn’t need booze to build a team, just a few poorly-timed two-footers and balls hoofed onto the train tracks, never to be seen again.
Importance of roster management
All of this is working towards your staff wanting to be at work, so it makes sense to consult them when it comes to creating a functional roster.
13. Consult your team
Ask them what kind of hours they’re hoping for, and if it’s possible, try and make it happen. Likewise, if they need fewer hours, let them. You might have to pick up the slack for a few weeks whilst you find somebody to fill the gaps, but your team will be happier overall.
14. Keep a strong backbone when needed
That’s not to say you should let your team dictate your roster 100%, far from it. There will be occasions where you have to let people down and roster them on when they wanted it off, but if you’ve taken the above advice on board, and keep these instances to a minimum, the boat shouldn’t be rocked too much.
The main point is that with a happy, fully-trained team, your roster should be a well-balanced, well-oiled machine, leaving no weak points in your team and having each staff member working towards the same outcome: a smooth and profitable shift. You could even consider an integration with a tool like Deputy to help with your roster management.