In the third part of this series we are going to go through how to describe the culture of your venue in job descriptions. It’s important to be able to define the true culture of your venue to potential hires. Being able to do this calls for an understanding of what makes up “culture”, what yours really is, and then putting it into words.
Workplace culture is defined as the overall character of the business, such as the business’s values, beliefs, behaviors, goals, attitudes and work practices. In this article we will go through how to outline each of these elements for your own venue.
Why is this important? Not only will this help you and the new hire create a better fit and reduce turnover, it can also go a long way to creating more awareness and positive change within your restaurant.
In my experience working in restaurants, managers often seemed unaware of the culture and/or effect that it had on their staff. This led to confusion and frustration when trying to communicate and resolve issues. The good managers that I worked for could tell you exactly what the culture of the venue was, even the bad stuff.
Honestly, managers that can tell you all of the flaws of their venue have a huge edge over managers that pretend everything is good or are unaware of the flaws and challenges of their venue and its culture.
Values and beliefs have a huge impact on how your staff will interact with your guests. This is true whether they are witten and encouraged or never spoken of at all. The benefit of a deliberate approach to values and beliefs is that bringing them to light can transform them into something positive that not only makes your restaurant better for your guests, but makes it a better place to work.
Start by defining your values and beliefs. First, write down what you feel your values and beliefs are (do this as a private exercise with no intention of sharing these notes with your staff). Then, add in anything you think should be there but isn’t. Be honest and base this on reality rather than ideals. Ask yourself questions like:
What is the driving force behind your restaurant? (Profit? Guest Experience? Cuisine? Ratings?)
Do you value “work ethic” over all else? ( It is typical in the restaurant industry to have a hard and fast approach, we have to hustle to make money of course.)
What are the worst parts of your culture? (Too much stress? Blame? No accountability? No sense of team or camaraderie?)
What are the best parts of your culture? (Supportive team? Great leadership? Positive feel? Empowered workers?)
Do you value and foster positive things for your staff? (quality of life, growth, empowerment, interest, or passion)
Is training and organization highly valued in your workplace? (check out the article: How Training and Organization Improve the Employee Experience for more on this value specifically)
Be honest and put down what the true values and beliefs of your venue are. If you feel they need to change then get to work evolving them.
How your managers and staff behave is worth a close look. Watch, listen and even ask questions to your leaders and teams about what they feel the expectations are about behavior in your restaurant.
Look for and ask for examples of behavior that is not productive or unacceptable, but also look for and ask for the good and effective things people do during their shift. Believe it or not, a lot of how your team behaves is in your control. You set the tone of what is acceptable and what isn’t.
Don’t be afraid of what you may find. Effective leadership can and will make changing those things easy. Check out: Effective Leadership in Restaurants: How Changing Your Message Changes The Game.
Setting goals is a good way to organize your team and get everyone on the same page. Examine the goals that exist in your workplace. Remember they may be written/spoken or just assumed or inferred. Write down what you find and review the list. Revise and update it if you think it is missing important items. Set realistic goals that everyone on your team will see results from, such as sales goals that will increase tip percentages.
What are yours? Be honest and put down the true behaviors and goals found in your venue. If you feel they need to change then get to work evolving them.
Let’s just say it. Restaurant workers know how to crank up the attitude. I do it (and thoroughly enjoy it) as I’m sure most of you do as well. I think it’s part of what we like about working in restaurants, that bit of chaos and fire where it is acceptable and even encouraged to be bold and assertive.
Take a look at what attitude and work practices are really the norm in your restaurant. Chances are like in the other areas of this process you may find some great things and some not so great things. Stay with reality and make an honest list.
When it comes to work practices, compare what your “procedures'' are and what actually happens on the floor during a shift. For example: Do servers always perform water service or is that exclusively for bussers? Do procedures fly out the window when service gets busy?
Look at the details of what happens and what your staff's attitude is. This one may be a bit more detailed and take some more time, but it is worth it. First, it will let you add an accurate set of details to your job description which will help you hire better and reduce turnover. Also it will give you some insight into areas that are causing issues, a need to change some practices, as well as areas that work great and make life better for your staff….those are the areas you want to expand!
Now that you have a good sense of what the culture of your venue is (its values, beliefs, behaviors, goals, attitudes and work practices) You can draft them into your job description and make them part of your hiring process. Chances are you’ve found a lot of information, and it will need to be condensed. The goal remains to be honest and accurate so you and the potential hire can make a good choice. Be creative and keep things positive, but keep them real as well. Don’t be afraid that your description of the job will scare people off. If it is accurate and honest, anyone who is “scared off” was not a fit for your restaurant in the first place.