Restaurant Management Tips for Goal Setting with Your Staff
The restaurant industry is making a comeback. Across the U.S., unique innovations are redefining what it means to do our work and new employees are providing more than a few good news stories. While it’s good to embrace some of that positive momentum, it’s also vital to remember the real backbone of the restaurant industry: passionate people.
Passionate, well-motivated employees make or break restaurants. Whether you’re delivering lunch from a pop-up macaroni truck or presenting Tarte Tatin on high-end patisserie shelves, employees who have bought in to the vision of your company are crucial if you want to lead a productive restaurant and stand out from the competition.
However, those same people who are capable of making a difference in your restaurant are also the most susceptible to burnout. Burnout is defined by the World Health Organization as, “a syndrome conceptualized from resulting chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed,” and can lead to depression, sleep issues, anxiety, and other chronic health problems. On a professional level, burnout leads to errors, high turnover, and plummeting employee motivation. Before moving into our post-pandemic future, restaurant managers must learn to identify the signs of burnout and set goals that help staff achieve their potential.
SMART Goal Setting
As managers, creating a productive environment where burnout is avoided and employees buy-in to your larger vision is essential. While there are numerous strategies to boost productivity in the workplace, perhaps the most important is to ensure you are setting SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Oriented) goals for your employees.
The reason SMART goals are so effective is simple: SMART goal setting ensures managers consider their staff’s perspective. Each component of SMART goals forces the manager to think about the company’s larger vision, the employee’s motivations for working towards that vision, and the manager’s role in making it all come together. SMART goals ensure you are really taking the time to consider your restaurant and the people who make it what it is.
Your goal should identify a clear outcome. You want to leave as little room for interpretation as possible, and can do this by targeting specific components of your restaurant. For example, instead of stating a broad goal like “increase employee productivity”, focus on something specific like “reduce labor costs from 33% to 30%”. By setting clear targets, you ensure all your staff are on the same page and are more likely to achieve meaningful change.
Ensuring your goals are measurable is essential if you want to celebrate your achievements! Having measurable goals ensures your goals are focused, and can really boost motivation when you achieve what you set out to do. A great example of a measurable goal for your restaurant’s website might be “Increase site traffic from 1,000 visits per month to 1,250 per month”. This way, you’ll have something to shoot for, and can further incentivize your staff when they achieve your goals (which is also an easy way to gain some popularity in a busy kitchen!).
It’s obvious that your goals shouldn’t be ridiculous. But, what’s far harder, is ensuring there is a strong correlation between what managers believe to be possible and what is achievable in reality. The easiest way to ensure your goals are achievable is to communicate with your staff. By bringing staff in on the goal-setting conversation, you’ll get a good sense of what is currently achievable with the resources you have. Additionally, by bringing your staff in on the conversation, you’ll help your employees buy-in to the goals of your restaurant and will likely earn their trust for doing so.
It goes without saying that your goals should be worthwhile. So, when looking to ensure that your goals are relevant, it’s a good idea to step back and take stock of your current situation. For example, if you’re struggling to break even, setting a goal of expanding operations is not a relevant goal. When trying to establish relevant goals, ask yourself questions like:
- What are competitors doing better than us currently?
- What are our customers looking for that we don’t currently provide?
- Is now a good time to set new goals for staff?
Setting goals without time frames is like throwing darts in the dark. Even more, setting “someday” goals actually increases staff stress and decreases motivation. You can even consider setting micro-goals (weekly, even daily goals) and macro-goals (yearly, or even longer). Essentially, having time-oriented goals gives you something (time) to track your progress against and can really help to focus your staff’s energy.
Setting SMART goals is a great way to boost employee motivation and create significant buy-in from staff. Goals boost productivity, create an environment of success, and, when done correctly, can preempt the early signs of staff burnout. This is essential as customers are becoming increasingly demanding of good service, and are able to spread reviews—good or bad—quicker than ever before.
In order to meet the new demands of returning customers, restaurant managers must find ways to keep their best employees happy and motivated at work. Goal setting, among other motivational strategies, can keep staff energized about doing the work they love, even when the work they love looks a little different from our pre-pandemic past.
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About the Author
Beau Peters is a creative professional with a lifetime of experience in service and care. As a manager, he’s learned a slew of tricks of the trade that he enjoys sharing with others who have the same passion and dedication that he brings to his work. When he is not writing, he enjoys reading and trying new things.