Restaurant Staffing and COVID-19: Before Reopening, Think About Your Team
We all want to get back to “normal,” whatever that means now. Honestly, “normal” wasn’t very normal in the first place so, let’s look at this as a reset. This time around, there’s an your opportunity to do things better than you did before. As the bills pile up and the PPP money runs low, you’ll want to jump back to full operating mode as soon as you can. Before you dive headfirst into cloudy COVID waters, let’s talk about your restaurant staffing.
Assemble Your A-Team
Please write this down: You can’t change someone’s personality; Only they can change it if they want to. That’s the key phrase right there: if they want to change. We’ve all hired someone in our career (a C-player) that we felt we could transform into a superstar or an A-player. How did that work out? Usually, not as you planned.
A-players are those that do their job to the best of their abilities. They seek to become better and do great work for you. On the other hand, C-Players do the bare minimum to get by or to keep their job. They watch the clock and continuously cut corners to make their job easier.
Here’s the thing you must understand: A-players don’t want to work with C-players, and C-players don’t want to work with A-players! The A-players make the slacking C-players look bad, and the A-players get tired of doing the extra work.
COVID and C-Players
COVID-19 has allowed you to recruit more A-players! Stop trying to change the C-players and focus on becoming a better leader for whom A-players want to work.
What I’m about to say might come as a shock, but you need to ask yourself if you’re an A-Player leader. Do superstar athletes want to play for the teams with losing records? Oh, hell no! Why would top talent in your market want to work for a C-grade leader? They don’t. Look at the quality of people who apply to your restaurant to get an idea of your leadership game.
You can only change yourself. We try to shift that attention to others because changing ourselves is so much work! Maybe you need to have a little more patience with yourself and stop beating yourself up? If you want to be that phoenix, rising from the ashes from COVID-19, you’ll need to become the leader your team wants and needs.
Ask Better Questions
You ask questions to yourself all the time. You even might talk to yourself. Don’t worry! That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to speak to a professional (depending on what you’re hearing!).
Thinking about your restaurant staffing, you might ask a poor question like, “Why can’t I find good people to work at my restaurant?” You’ll let yourself off the hook with a poor answer: “because people are lazy and don’t want to work!” That’s not the truth, though — people may prefer not to work for you.
What Can You Do To Fix That?
Start to think of what that means to people returning to work as COVID-19 works its way through our communities. We all want to reopen at full-steam and make some money. Slow down and ask what might be going through the minds of your staff:
- Am I going to be safe?
- What are our new policies on COVID-19?
- What happens if a guest doesn’t respect social distancing protocols?
- Are we going to have regular testing at the restaurant?
- What are the guidelines if someone tests positive?
- Should I expect more or fewer hours?
- What kind of training will our team be adding due to COVID-19?
There are tools to help your team answer some of those questions, from kitchen display systems for your back-of-house to guest management platforms in the front that can provide them with guidance on the new rules. As you build your newer, better team, you can employ tools like recipe viewers to streamline both training and quality control.
People want to work for real leaders. They want someone who looks at them as more than a line item on a profit and loss statement. You have an opportunity to:
- Create more A-players for your team.
- Upgrade your leadership to A-level.
- Refocus your commitment to crafting an outstanding team experience.
You’re eager to reopen and get back to business, which is entirely understandable. Your team wants to feel safe and protected. You must find the balance that works for both sides in your restaurant staffing equation.
Many focus on the guest experience, and while that’s important, I find that the most successful (and profitable) restaurants focus more on the team experience. By examining your restaurant staffing, you can raise your team’s morale, which has a net positive on your business. When you do that, the guest experience becomes better as a result.
About the Author
Donald Burns is The Restaurant Coach™, named one of The Top 50 Restaurant Experts to Follow and one of 23 Inspiring Hospitality Experts to Follow on Twitter. A restaurant consultant for a $4.2-billion-dollar company, he works with restaurants around the globe that want to build their brand, strengthen their team, and increase their profits. His first book, Your Restaurant Sucks!: Embrace the Suck. Unleash your Restaurant. Become Outstanding is an international bestseller.
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About the Author
Donald Burns is The Restaurant Coach™, named one of The Top 50 Restaurant Experts to Follow and one of 23 Inspiring Hospitality Experts to Follow on Twitter. A restaurant consultant for a $4.2-billion-dollar company, he works with restaurants around the globe that want to build their brand, strengthen their team, and increase their profits. His first book, Your Restaurant Sucks!: Embrace the Suck. Unleash your Restaurant. Become Outstanding, is an international bestseller.