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Comment: How to motivate restaurant staff to succeed

CEO and Founder of UAE-based Restaurant Secrets Inc Gabrielle F Mather on how to inspire F&B teams

As the CEO and founder of leading UAE-based restaurant firm Restaurant Secrets Inc, I manage a team of expert restaurant consultants and business incubators in the UAE that has served over 300 brands since its inception in 2001, including Roti Rollers, La Serre Bistro & Boulangerie, Clinton’s Baking Street and The Loft at Dubai Opera.

Dubai sees the opening and closure of many restaurants every year, and while some venues may impress the eye or palette, if service standards are not up to par there’s an undeniable flaw. A key component to keeping the doors of a restaurant open is creating and managing a strong team and no business strategy will ever become a reality if a restaurant’s staff aren’t motivated and equipped.

Motivating a young team to embrace service culture and operational processes requires a sense of empathy and leadership, and the organisations that promote dignity and process ownership will spend more time opening new doors rather than closing shop.

Here are five clear directions to boost motivation:

1. Promote passion with purpose
Be a hands-on leader, and share a vision other people can adopt. Be passionate every day about what you do and why. Commit to giving people a healthy company culture so that a positive DNA runs through the work-family that spends more time with you than with their own. Many restaurant staff today are Millennials who are passionate about things when they are motivated. In a world of instant self-gratification, sometimes their passion can die before it’s fueled. Be an inspiration, share achievement stories.

Offer one-to-one mentorship and watch their passion find purposeful channels to be excellent

2. Provide a variety of on-going trainings
Millennials love learning new things, multi-tasking and exploring. To appeal to an attention span that is active and seeking new stimulation, keep training interesting and varied. F&B owners make the mistake of sticking to just F&B-related training. I suggest mixing this up with life skills, or some inspiring Ted Talks. Introduce staff to success stories from the industry and outside. Keep your training focused on personal human development, not just F&B. When people gain confidence and are highly motivated, they adapt their learnings and talents to everyday tasks. That’s when you get the best out of people.

RSI - Motivating restaurant staff 3

3. Be clear about expectations
Nobody is a mind reader. Expecting your team members – especially young Millennials – to be constantly pro-active and initiate tasks that have not been explained and trained, is fighting a losing battle. Yes, there exist those who are extremely switched on, mindful and self-motivated, and if you have those already on your team, you are one step ahead of your competition. But be realistic; your job as a leader is to inspire your team to grow and learn. Be clear of your expectations and the values you uphold to get results.

4. Reward exceptionally for exceptional performances
F&B team members typically work 10 hours a day. They will only try to be remarkable all of those 10 hours if they feel appreciated and find dignity in what they do. An entrepreneur understands the thrill of ownership of a business. All humans are built to thrive on a sense of ownership of their accomplishments. Have a reward or incentive programme that encourages high performance.

Don’t let your stars be procured by the competition – because that’s exactly what will happen when they shine

Let your people confidently shine and provide them with good reasons to give the best years of their career to an organisation that nurtures, teaches and rewards them. It’s a win-win for all when talent is retained.

5. Restaurant success is a result of teamwork and synergy
Unsurprisingly, the younger ‘connected yet most disconnected’ generation thrives on teamwork. An excellent brand is stewarded by its proud and caring owners. That’s our responsibility as entrepreneurs and owners. Stewardship mentality leads to a sense of responsibility and accountability, and that in turn creates the ‘buddy’ culture. I have seen teams stay in a tiring job because they just love going to work and enjoy the time they spend together as a team. Guests feel the energy of an effective team and choose to spend their time and money in an environment where people make the space feel happy and comfortable. Only a happy, synergistic, operationally effective team can deliver that.

For more information on Restaurant Secrets Inc, visit restaurantsecretsinc.com 

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