Empower Your Staff to "Walk the Walk"

At some point in your life it’s likely you have offered, received or heard the advice, “If you’re going to talk the talk, you’ve got to walk the walk.” Often this piece of wisdom is shared between friends or familiar business associates as a kind of friendly ribbing. But have you ever taken the time to really think about it?

What if you could get your staff to “walk the walk?” Or to throw another common phrase out there, what if your entire staff “acted like they owned the place?”

In the hourly workforce it’s common for employees to focus solely on their role and miss the bigger picture. In their roles, they aren’t worried about future of the restaurant, competitors or the increase in the costs of food … these aren’t blatantly relevant to their lives. Your line cook may not see how his work affects the waitress’ day, the customer’s satisfaction or your bottom line. As an owner, it’s your job to see the entire operation, from start to finish and work to make sure everything runs optimally.

Owners and managers don’t stop at the end of a shift, and they certainly don’t start prepping to leave 15 minutes before the end of a shift. It’s your job to set goals, make decisions and see them through. Everyday you “walk the walk,” and that’s what makes a business run.

Getting individual employees to see their how their role contributes to achieving success, and explaining why, is how you get your frontline to “walk the walk.”

At PeopleMattr, we have weekly patio meetings. As president and CEO, I talk about where we’ve been, recent achievements and where we are going. Then executives from each team talk about what’s going on in their department. We make sure each employee knows how their work is affecting the company as a whole.

Now apply this to your restaurant. Think about the waitress who tends to forget to put in or pick up her orders on time. Imagine if she had a better understanding about how her actions impacted everyone – from the waiting patron to the BOH. If that employee knew that a little added effort on her part improved how the kitchen worked, how the business worked and how service was being marketed, she might start “walking the walk.”

It’s about giving employees a new perspective on their jobs. Let them know that you see their role as an important part of something bigger. Your team should feel ownership or pride in their jobs and the restaurant. If they believe that coming in and doing their job makes a difference — that they, as an individual employees matter — they are going to work harder and care more.

Accomplishing this takes very little effort and can make a huge difference. Just open the lines of communication. Share what you see, give feedback and listen to suggestions. Engaged employees think about their job outside work. They take in their surroundings and apply it to their lives. Your employees have ideas on ways to improve your business and customer service. They are your front line, they interact with the customers and are the ones hearing the complaints and praises.

So next time you hear a staff member complain, remind them that if you want to “talk the talk, you’ve got to walk the walk.” Then give them the space and a platform to do it.

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