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In our last post we discussed the importance of consistent, accountable, and targeted managers. In this post we’ll look at getting employees on board on our way to optimal organizational health.

Unlike the management off-site meeting, you are likely not going to have a full background exploration and personality profile for all of your employees. If you only have about 6 or less employees, go for this method if you can, but for larger teams, this is likely not practical. So what then?

Either way, start with an all-staff meeting. Inform all of the employees that all members of the restaurant will be engaged in an improvement of organizational health in the restaurant. Explain what proper organizational health looks like. Define why it is important. Explain what is in it for employees if they help participate.

Inform your employees that good organizational health starts with the management staff. Let them know that you’ve made mistakes in the past, and that everyone is unified as a restaurant. No department is independent of another. Employees should know to hold management accountable when they are hearing conflicting arguments between departments.

Let them know your new directive, your most important thing that will lead all decisions as a tiebreaker. Encourage them to give feedback on decisions made in the restaurant. Ask for their input on ideas to help make the restaurant better.

If or when an employee brings an idea to you, give them a formal response with a reason. “That’s a really good idea, I will bring that up at this week’s meeting and see if we can get it implemented right away. That should help our traffic flow immensely.” Or, “I am definitely intrigued by that idea, thank you for suggesting it. I think it will improve things for someone of your personality type but may be viewed negatively by other staff members that are a bit more stubborn. Let me look into a way to introduce it to make sure everyone can be on board.” (Then, be sure you respond back to them on a fairly quickly timeline on yes we are implementing or no we are not, and here is why.) Or, “I appreciate the idea, and I see the thought process behind that, but I think that would unfortunately raise our food cost too high and may lower the quality of our food just for the sake of getting food out a little faster. I do believe the problem you discovered is an issue, I am just not sure that’s the solution at this time. I’ll try to come up with something to help that problem and if you come up with anything else as well, let me know. Thank you for suggesting that idea, I appreciate your desire to make this restaurant better.” Encourage open dialogue and always give a why, especially when declining an idea. Without this, employees will stop seeking out fixes to problems they see or they will not share them with you because, “the managers don’t care anyway, so why should I.”

Empower your employees to handle basic mistakes. Let them have the ability to give discounts or comp items without management approval. Track the items and discounts, and have the employee write the reason on a copy of the receipt that they hand in at night. Have them additionally still inform management of any customer issues with their solution as it happens. By giving this authority to the employees you show that you trust your employees to make the right decision in benefit of the long term success of the company. For the most part employees will make the right decision. If they don’t, correct them and direct them how to evaluate more appropriately next time. You still have the employee inform you as they are discounting for errors, when possible, so that you are able to get to the heart of the issue and can communicate with and apologize to the upset customer or talk with an employee about an error they made. Even when employees correct the mistake, it’s still good to have a manager talk with the table to get input that the customer may not have wanted to share with the server.

Along with handling discounts, allow employees to trade tasks, sections, or cut times, within reason, when both parties agree. This allows for good communication between employees, happier employees, and a more efficient staff.

Empower your employees to hold each other accountable as well. When one employee isn’t pulling their weight, have other employees direct them back in line. Encourage them to do so. Obviously this should be done in a constructive, not destructive manner. However, having employees pull each other up is more effective than having a manager do it. It builds stronger teams and increases organizational health. Again, be sure to monitor this. If two employees go back and forth actively trying to assign each other tasks to anger the other employee, inform the employees that accountability of other employees needs to be constructive and for the betterment of the team.

As you implement this culture of organizational health there will inevitably be speed bumps along the way as everyone rediscovers the boundaries. However, stay true to empowering employees, holding accountability, and striving towards great organizational health. It’s one of the greatest factors determining the success or demise of your business.

In our next post we’ll explore a bit deeper into holding accountability, creating growth through overcoming challenges, and delve into how great organizational health can lower costs and reduce turnover.