Have you ever wished you could tell your manager something but you were afraid that you would offend them? Or maybe you’re a manager in a restaurant and you wish you knew what was really on the minds of your staff. We’ve all been on one end or the other. Now, it’s time for the truth to come out!
Whether you are an employee or a manager, communicating effectively can be hard. It may be because you are busy or because the message is not good news. It may also be because very little emphasis is put on communications in the hospitality, despite the fact that how we do our jobs depends on how well we communicate.
Servers often wish that managers would communicate better with them. They want more information. They want information that is clearer.
Communication often comes to the server in written form when managers are not able to see servers face to face. Notes left on whiteboards, chalkboards, and corkboards are seen by servers, but they aren’t always understood.
Viola, who has worked in many different types of restaurants over the past 30 years, says,
“…quit scribbling on scraps of paper that you expect me to read…when I don’t understand anything you’ve written.”
It’s important to make sure that what you’ve written is readable to your staff. That might mean slowing down as you write. They need to be able to read your writing so it must be neat; however, the meaning of your note must also be clear. If you’re not sure, get another manager to read it before you post it.
Servers want to be rewarded when they go the extra mile for you. At corporate jobs, employees get bonuses, raises, or promotions. In the restaurant industry, these things are all rare and managers don’t usually have a lot of say in that.
You can reward servers in other ways though. If you make the schedule, give the employees who always do a good job the shifts that they want. Let them take the bigger tables that you know are going to be good tippers. Approve time off requests when you can. And if you can’t approve their request, do what you can to help them find an alternative.
Elise, who has been working in diners and small restaurants for ten years, says,
“Reward good employees and get rid of bad ones. One bad employee can cost you a plethora of good ones.”
If good employees don’t that they are rewarded for their efforts, the bad employees that get the same treatment as good ones could cause them to seek jobs elsewhere.
Managers expect servers to provide consistently great service. It makes sense. It keeps customers coming back on a regular basis and return customers become the basis for any restaurant. But what about the managers? Are they consistent? Servers expect consistent management practices. It helps them understand what is expected of them.
Lindsay, who has worked in a family-run restaurant for six, says,
“Be consistent. The rules shouldn’t be different for different employees because of [your personal feelings about] them.”
It is critical that all employees have to follow the same rules and that managers have the same expectations of them. If a server is hired to work in a restaurant, they should have to do the exact same job as the other staff members. If they are not able to, they shouldn’t be hired to do the job. Servers that are expected to run for the phone or do their share of shifts that don’t make as much money will come to resent the server who doesn’t have the same expectations.
If you want to know what servers really think, give them the opportunity to express themselves without the concern of repercussions. Have a comment box for staff. Have staff meetings. Encourage open discussion.
Experienced managers with great listening skills are always in demand. Check out the jobs available for hospitality managers on our job board.
Danielle has been working in restaurants for about 15 years. She’s currently a server but has also worked as a cook, hostess, and dishwasher. Her daily motto is “It’s a great day to serve some smiles.” She also spends a great deal of time writing and reading everything she can get her hands on while her 3 cats try to distract her.
Danielle has also worked as a freelance writer for 15 years. She’s written about a wide array of topics and is currently accepting new clients. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your project!