By Jaime Oikle
How do you look at the team concept in your restaurant? Is it a conscious thought process or something that you expect to just happen? How do you go about communicating your expectations with the staff and do they clearly know what is expected of them?
Just as there is incredible power in a strong team, there is a disaster waiting to happen in a weak team environment. A strong team over achieves and accomplishes results that they could never reach working independently. Unfortunately, a strong team does not happen by accident. It takes management awareness, focus and effort.
What Does a Strong Team Look Like?
There are several readily identifiable characteristics of strong teams.
How Do We Get There?
- Team has clear goals and sense of restaurant's vision/direction
- Clear understanding of individual roles and responsibilities
- Agreed upon procedures (for dealing with things like conflict and decision making)
- Complementary skills that create a well rounded set of team skills and experience
- Constructive relationships with a sense of trust and respect
- Team members are committed to the team and hold each other mutually accountable for successes and failures
- Reinforcement of team behaviors (including recognition, appreciation, and being held accountable)
It is critical, of course, to first have the right team members to begin with. That all happens as a result of your recruiting, interviewing, hiring and training process. So, assuming you've done the right things here, how do you ensure maximum results from your squad? There are two great tools for this purpose, a team mission statement and a team charter.
Team Mission Statement
This is different from the corporate mission statement for your restaurant. This is an outline of what the team sees as its goals and mission. For example, the team may choose as its mission statement something like "serving our customers deliciously prepared food in a beautiful atmosphere with warm and friendly service while having fun and learning and growing our skills."
This is like the U.S. Constitution and should be written up with various articles defining and describing the behaviors expected of all team members. Possible items to be addressed in the charter include timeliness, preparation/training, respect, confrontation and conflict, team support, commitments to team, decision-making process, how to reassess team performance as well as how to have fun.
Getting Buy In Gets Results
The most important part of creating these two documents is that the team creates them jointly. It does not work for management to write up a team mission statement and charter and to deliver a lecture about both to the group. It takes time, but can be well worth it, to have your restaurant team meet as a group, brainstorm their thoughts and draft both a mission and charter all on their own. Management will be pleasantly surprised at what the team creates on its own accord. They will set higher expectations of themselves then you ever imagined.
Most importantly, there will be complete buy-in to the mission and the charter because the team wrote it up together. As a final step, have all members of the team sign the mission statement and team charter. This commits each individual to fulfilling their promises to the team. Another key benefit here is that should a difficulty or conflict arise, the team's mission statement and charter can be brought out and referenced. "Didn't we all agree as a team in article III that we would behave in this manner because we felt it was important to accomplish our objectives?" It is very difficult for a counter argument to follow this process and this can go a long way to fostering team harmony and unity.
So, if you are serious about developing a strong sense of teamwork in your restaurant, have your team write-up a team mission statement and team charter and then watch as they self-police themselves to stronger performance results.
Jaime Oikle, is the owner of Restaurant Report, a leading online resource for owners, chefs, managers and staff in the upscale/midscale independent restaurant community.