Congratulations! You have enough people working for you to warrant a staff meeting. A good staff meeting should energize your team to better serve customers. Be prepared to get a few eye rolls when you schedule the first meeting, but remember, meetings are necessary, and worth the pain, if done right.
Here are our top tips on how to run a successful staff meetings for your restaurant.
1. Separate Your Meetings by Staff Type
Front-of-house and back-of-house have very different experiences, needs, and culture. You will be wasting your staff’s time by making each person sit through meeting items that are not relevant to their role. In other words, not all employees should attend all meetings. You will have an easier time with scheduling by doing this also. It is much easier to get 5-10 people into a single meeting, than 20, for example. Communicate this so your staff knows you respect their time.
2. Schedule Your Meeting Consistently
Once expected attendance is determined, it’s time to build out a regular schedule. Decide on how often you’d like to have your meetings and communicate it with everyone. Although schedules may vary, it may be better to schedule meetings in the morning so that staff members who have the day off can continue the rest of their day uninterrupted. Make sure to also give your staff advance notice with clear instructions about whether attendance is mandatory. Last but not least, stay true to your start and end time so that everyone can understand the importance of showing up on time.
3. Prepare and Send an Agenda
Before holding a meeting, send out a staff meeting agenda to the team at least 24 hours in advance. An agenda will make sure that staff members are not only reminded of the meeting and its importance, it will help everyone stay focused and make the best use of time. Meetings can also carry a similar agenda from meeting to meeting to build that desired consistency.
4. Bring the Goodies
We mean food. If there is anything your team appreciates (or anyone, really), it is free snacks. Providing food and refreshments during the meeting (doughnuts and coffee in the morning or a family-style meal for lunch) can boost morale and help staff members feel like an integral part of the team. Trust us on this one.
5. Set the Pace – Ask Someone to Keep Time
Every owner knows very well how fast-paced and hectic restaurants can be. Staff meetings should account for that and move as quickly as possible. Consider assigning someone to be in charge of the meeting to set the pace and stay true to the agenda. While discussing important matters and allowing your staff to discuss and debate potential solutions is important, it is also necessary to monitor the discussion to make sure it’s remaining relevant and worthwhile.
6. Designate Someone to Track New Ideas/Topics Covered
After you assign a team leader to set the pace, consider assigning the same person or another team member to take minutes or notes of the meeting. That way, any important questions raised or decisions made can be followed-up on post-meeting. Every item listed should be specific, measurable, actionable, relevant to the member it is assigned to, and time-bound.
7. Set the Tone in a Positive Way
Getting back to the topic of morale, speaking positively and enthusiastically can set a good tone for the meeting. Research shows that leader warmth can help facilitate productivity and satisfaction. Kicking off a meeting on a positive note and praising your employees can inspire them to do their best work and reduce turnover. You can even create teachable moments by sharing positive feedback provided by clients and offering specific praise: “Max, you did a great job promoting the new burger yesterday! It was our top-seller of the day.” Imagine yourself as a coach, revving up your players for a game.
Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. Staff meetings can incorporate a variety of topics, including:
- Reinforcing the company’s values and mission. If needed, provide a general overview of company policies, but make sure to wait until the meeting is over to speak privately with any individual regarding any disciplinary discussions.
- Discussing updates in company targets or goals. This will let employees know if things are on-track and will clarify for them what the current priorities are. Be sure to come in with data to support any argument and create impressive, yet reachable goals such as: “I want our kitchen to get food out within an average of x minutes and our servers to sell x appetizers per shift.” This can even encourage some healthy competition. You can offer items such as gift certificates, movie tickets, and/or a prime position on the seating chart as rewards for the winners.
- Sharing news and successes. Update the staff on exciting new menu items to ensure they are well-versed in it. Use this time to also highlight good news and developments that are related to the restaurant.
- Sharing challenges. Even if there are setbacks to the restaurant, be sure to share the news, discuss any rumors, and get helpful feedback from staff so they can stay in the loop.
9. Allow Time for the Team to Speak
Speaking of feedback, take some time to ask your staff if they have anything they want to add in order to address concerns and questions. A successful meeting is not only about informing, but also listening. The team will not always understand everything discussed and some will have reservations about what was said. Giving them the opportunity to speak up when coming up with a solution will encourage them to work actively to see their suggestions succeed, rather than reluctantly following orders from management. It also creates an environment that encourages new and innovative ideas.
After all is said and done, send a follow-up email to your staff highlighting what you discussed, decisions that were made, goals that were set, task items assigned to each person, and deadlines assigned to that person. Keep track of your numbers regarding your goals, and keep your staff informed on their progress. Take a minute during the daily pre-shift meeting to remind staff of the goals and what can be done to achieve them. During the next staff meeting, share the results of their efforts. If they exceeded your goals, show your appreciation with some dessert or a few rounds on the house.