November 22, 2022

3 Ways To Keep Your Team (and Yourself) Motivated

In this article: Running a successful restaurant is hard work - and it’s not always glamorous. Here’s 3 ways to help you and your team keep spirits high even when times are tough.

Working in a restaurant is not the easiest gig. Long hours on your feet, grumpy customers, staying organized under pressure, and conflict with your coworkers aren’t always rationalized by piles of cash tips at the end of the night.

Nevertheless, we love the work that we do, and most of us who have made a career in this industry are accustomed to these struggles and more. We thrive in chaos. Most of us, that is.

Part-time or entry level team members who may not be sold on making a career out of hospitality can easily get discouraged in this type of work environment. While they love the quick cash and flexible shifts, the physical and emotional toll can cause the burnout to come faster, resulting in higher turnover.

Today let’s talk about a few ways to help minimize this burnout and help keep your team motivated so that you and your team can perform at the highest level while still having a great quality of life (it’s possible, I promise!)

#1: Staff the floor accordingly

The first tip for keeping morale positive is to make sure you are staffing the floor accordingly. 

There is nothing more discouraging than knowing you aren’t going to make the money that you could be making, just because management isn’t paying attention to business levels or staff talent and overstaffing the floor.

I know this can be a challenge. Finding the right balance between being short staffed and being overstaffed can feel impossible! Plus, just because things are slow one minute doesn’t mean that you won’t get a huge rush the next. 

You have to trust your team, trust your experience, and your gut instinct. You’re going to make mistakes and get slammed sometimes, but trust me - that’s better than your entire team quitting because they never make any money working for you.

Related: 3 Red Flags That Make Restaurant Workers Leave A New Job

Keeping your team motivated can only happen if you’re willing to put in the work yourself to make sure they’re appreciated and taken care of. No matter how much they love you, they’re doing the job for the money - and without it they will very quickly get discouraged. Make sure they know how much of a priority their well being is to you. 

#2: Listen, think, act

Too many great restaurant managers get swept into the fast pace of our industry, and lose the fine skill of slowing down. 

Toxic work environments often feel uptight and rushed, leaving no room for questions, innovation or new opinions. Before it becomes toxic, oftentimes there are feelings of low morale, despair, anxiety and tension among the staff. 

What if you and your management team were able to take a deep breath, step back for a second, and really listen to your staff? Especially if you are currently experiencing a low point in terms of morale, what are the real reasons this is happening?

Related: How Guest Experience Improves When Restaurant Managers Communicate Expectations Clearly With Their Team

No problem can be solved without first knowing what the problem is itself. Listen and observe your team, and then take some time to think before taking action. Just being able to bring a calm, supportive energy to your team will start to highlight how much you prioritize their well being and want to put solutions in place that will actually make their life better.

#3: Value work-life balance

If you want to improve your workplace culture and team morale, you need to value work-life balance. 

I think that a lot of people misunderstand what work-life balance really means. It doesn’t mean you don’t have a strong work ethic or don’t want to do well, or that you want to work for 4 hours each day and get paid a million dollars. It actually means the opposite - that you wish to do well in everything that you do.

A company that embeds a strong value on work-life balance into their culture is more likely to have higher team morale and positivity. Your team will be more rested, have lower stress levels, and be overall happier. 

Related: What is Your Workplace Culture? How To Write An Honest Job Description For Restaurant Workers: Part 3

What does it look like to value work-life balance in a restaurant? There could be lots of examples, maybe even some exclusive to your team, but a few that come to mind are honoring in/out times, posting the schedule 2-4 weeks in advance, and approving time-off and schedule requests when appropriate.

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Your staff are your biggest asset. I know - super cheesy - but also super true!

Without them, you’re nothing. Make sure you’re prioritizing their well being, including how they feel just walking through the door. What kind of environment are you asking them to perform in? Are you setting them up for success?

Creating a great culture isn’t always easy. It starts at the top, and trickles down as you grow your team. It can change overnight with a bad hire, or gradually evolve as employees bond over shared experiences (good or bad!)

Use these tips to keep yourself and your team motivated, positive, and ready to perform!

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