10 Ways To Improve Relationships With Your Restaurant Employees

Some restaurants are beautiful with expensive décor and ambiance.  Others are more casual with   plastic eating utensils and paper towels on the table in lieu of napkins.  But atmosphere alone does not make a successful venture.  PEOPLE DO.  And like ALL relationships, the “employer – employee” relationship is important and must be nurtured.
What is the difference between a relationship with your spouse and your business partner?  Basically nothing!  The same skills used in a successful marriage transfer to a successful relationship with just about anyone, including employees.

Here are 10 Ways to Improve Your Relationships with Your Employees

  1. Communication:  We’ve all heard it time and time again that communication is key to a successful relationship, but what does that mean?  Well, communication is one person speaking and one person listening, thinking about what they heard, and commenting on it.  It’s NOT one person telling another person what to do, or what to think or say, and the other person simply reacting accordingly. “It’s not what you say, it’s HOW you say it”.  In other words, be tactful and respectful!  You can say the most unpleasant things to someone, and if you say it with tact and respect, it will be better understood and accepted.  For instance, if you need to let an employee go, you can either say “You’re fired.  Pak your things and leave.”  Or you can say, “I am so sorry, but I have to let you go.  There simply isn’t enough work for everyone.  If things pick up in the future, I’ll be sure to give you a call.”
  2. RESPECT:  Even though some think otherwise, all men are created equal and everyone has a gift, a skill, or a talent.  You may have an MBA in Restaurant Management, but you may not be good with people, while one of your high school drop-out employees may make all your customers feel special and comfortable while meeting all their dining needs.  No one is better than anyone else, but we are all different.  It’s important to recognize these differences and respect each person for them.
  3. Consideration:  Consideration is looking at a problem or thought from someone else’s perspective.  Maybe the prom isn’t important to you, but it is to a young high school girl!  And maybe an employee’s birthday isn’t important to you, but it certainly is to them. Therefore, plan accordingly.  When it’s prom night, ask your non-student employees to step up and give the students the night  off.  And recognize your employees birthdays, and offer the day off to them as well.
  4. Compromise:  A relationship between two people is NOT a dictatorship.  Yes, you may very well be the boss, but if you just tell people what to do all the time and never listen to them, you will not be able to keep your best employees for very long.  No one likes to be told what to do, not even in an employer – employee relationship. Compromise goes hand-in-hand with Communication above.  If someone needs more hours, talk to your other employees and see if any are willing to cut back their time.  If someone simply hates bussing tables, communicate with the other employees to see if someone else enjoys the work, freeing the original person to either serve the customers or wash dishes.  Don’t pigeon hole people.
  5. Listening: Along with communication comes listening.  Some of your employees may have good ideas!  Ideas to save you money, to be more efficient, or even to increase your customer base.  Be approachable.  Even if an employee comes to you with SIX horrible or impracticle ideas, tell them their ideas have merit, but explain why or why not they won’t work at this time.  Keep the lines of communication open as you never know, the SEVENTH idea may be a keeper!  And if you shut them down on the first six ideas, you may never hear the seventh one.
  6. Incentives:  While money certainly motivates the average employee – after all, isn’t that the reason they’re working for you in the first place? – it’s NOT the only motivator.  You can have an Employee of the Week which entitles the chosen one to have their picture on the wall along with possibly a paid day off or tickets to a show.
  7. Meaningful reviews:  Don’t just tell someone they’re doing a good job, or conversely, a bad job.  Be specific.  Give details of exactly what they are doing right AND what they need to improve on.  Tell them HOW they can improve, and give them timelines.
  8. Increased responsibilities:  As you nurture an employee relationship, show them and/or reward their efforts with greater responsibility.  Nothing says “You’re doing a great job” better than TRUSTING that person with more responsibility.
  9. Social gatherings:  It’s good to sometimes get out of the “work mode” and get to know your employees on a personal basis.  If you find out that John has to support four children, you may have more empathy when he comes in tired or asks for more hours.  But still keep a professional distance.  You don’t want your employees to be your friends, necessarily, but you do want to know what makes them who they are, because then you can better fit their work to their skills and abilities.
  10. Employee Appreciation: NEVER fail to say please and thank you!  Your mother will be proud.

Keep these 10 simple rules in mind every day and you’ll see results for sure.  Happy people are more productive, more willing, and more energetic.  This will translate in a more positive atmosphere, and your customers will see and feel the difference and spread the word.

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Kimberly Austin is a professional blogger that writes on a variety of topics including Las Vegas restaurants. She writes for Restaurants.com, a leading source of restaurant coupons for fine dining establishments.