Sports teams do it. Flight crews do it. Even doctors and nurses do it.
That’s right: We’re talking about pre-shift meetings (or, in the parlance of the athletes above, “pep talks”). And if you’re not among the many restaurant owners starting each shift off with one, you’re missing a valuable opportunity to connect with, encourage, and educate your staff.
Below, we detail why these meet-ups with your staff are so important — and how you can make the most of each and every one.
The Lines Are Open
Sure, the pre-shift meeting is a perfect time to discuss specials, new dishes, and 86ed items. But it’s also a valuable opportunity to open the lines of communication between you or your managers and your staff members — and between your front-of-house and back-of-house staff.
Consider the average dinner service in your restaurant: servers and bussers rushing between tables, kitchen staff working to manage everything from appetizers to allergy restrictions, hosts weaving their way through the crowd with groups of excited diners. Even with the most in sync group, in that kind of chaos, there are few opportunities for real communication and employee feedback.
The pre-shift meeting, however, allows your crew the chance to talk with one another in a relaxed, calm atmosphere — before the impending rush hits. Encourage every member of your staff to take this opportunity to discuss issues they’re experiencing, praise a fellow employee for receiving a great customer comment from Rewards Network’s verified member reviews, or even to share any ideas they may have about how to improve the process. This should include any commentary they may have for you as their manager.
Opening those lines of communication helps ensure that problems are discussed in a respectful, composed way — not when frustrations begin to erupt during high-stress moments. Not to mention, you’ll always be abreast of your staff’s pain points, positive moments, and ideas for improvement — and they will always feel heard.
Get Off on the Right Foot
Maybe one of your staff members got stuck in traffic. Or someone in their family is sick. Or maybe they’re just plain having a bad day. You can’t control what happens to your employees outside of your restaurant — or their mood when they report to work. But you can control your own attitude toward each and every shift.
Take time during your pre-shift meeting to share positive news, recognize a staff member, or simply watch a silly video to make your staff laugh. If you’re excited about a new development with the business, share your excitement with them. Even if you have to tell your staff bad news, make a point of positioning each issue as a challenge for all of you to overcome together, not a black mark on the day — and let your staff know that you’re ready to take on that challenge with their help.
If you come to every meeting with a positive attitude and a smile, eventually your staff will look forward to these moments to regroup with their fellow employees and shake off the troubles of their day. And if they’re smiling, chances are each and every guest they encounter that day will be smiling, too.
Training (Every) Day
Just as communication can be difficult during those chaotic busy periods, finding time for teaching moments when your staff are hustling and bustling about is nearly impossible. Pre-shift meetings, however, are the perfect time to quickly cover upselling opportunities and techniques, a new expediting method you’d like to try out, or any other training issues you’d like.
Even if you don’t have specific training topics to cover, find an interesting article about the industry or some new recipes to discuss with your staff — anything to get a conversation going. Be sure to take time trading between each section of your staff, sharing new cocktail recipes with your bartenders one day, and explaining a new reservation system you intend to develop with hosts and reservationists the next.
Regardless of what you choose to share, this information will be top of mind for each employee as he or she begins the shift — meaning these tips and tricks have an even greater chance of being tried, practiced, and used.
The very first step to a successful pre-shift meeting is having a great staff! Check out our Staffing Restaurants for Success series to learn more about: