Before You Reopen Your Restaurant...Think About Your Staff

covid leadership mindset Jul 21, 2020

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 plot twist!

This time around is your opportunity to do things better than you did before. COVID-19 isn’t your fault, but how you ran your restaurant before is. Now, if that upsets you a little bit, then read on because there are a few things we must discuss. 

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. Now, before you jump in headfirst into cloudy COVID waters, let’s have a little talk about your team.

Not All Team Members Are A-Players

This is just you and I talking here and if we are honest with each other, you know there are a few people on your team that you should have let go. Maybe you felt sorry for them or was trying to be the “nice person” and try to change them. Please write this down: It’s impossible for you to change someone's personality.

That’s right, you cannot change a person’s personality. Only they can do it if they want to change. That’s the keyword right there...if. Here’s the other secret to change: people only change themselves. You can’t change them. We all have hired someone in our career (a C-player) that we felt deep down we could change to become a superstar or 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 want to honestly do a great job for you. C-players on the other hand do just the bare minimum to get by (or to keep their job). They watch the clock and are constantly looking for short cuts 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!

Why? It’s simple. A-players make C-players look bad and they don’t like that. C-players are slackers and the A-players get tired of doing the extra work that a C-player doesn’t do.

COVID-19 has given you a golden opportunity to cut loose the C-players and upgrade your team to more A-players!

Stop trying to change the C-players and instead focus on becoming a better leader that A-players want to work with. This might come as a shock, but you need to ask yourself if you are an A-Player Leader?

Do superstar athletes want to play for the teams with the worst 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 come to apply to work with you and it will give you an idea of where your leadership game is currently.

Now, if you are not happy with that, then change the one person you really can change and that is you!

Not to sound like Tony Robbins, but there is some truth to that. You can only change yourself. We try to shift that attention to others because changing ourselves is just so much work!

Maybe you just need to have a little more patience with yourself and stop beating yourself up so badly? If you want to rise like a Phoenix from the ashes from COVID-19, you’re going to 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 your crazy unless you talk to yourself in different voices. I’m not judging here, just putting it out there in the event you might want to speak to a professional.

If you are constantly asking poor questions, your brain tends to find poor answers! It’s the classic “seek and ye shall find” quote.

Ask a poor question like "How come I can’t find anyone good to work at my restaurant?"

Your brain will let you off the hook with a poor answer: "Because people are lazy and don’t want to work!"

That’s not the truth. They just don’t want to work for you.

 So what can you do to fix that?

Start to think of the bigger picture and what that means to people who are looking to come back to work as COVID-19 works its way through our communities.

I know you want to reopen at full steam and make some money. Just slow down and ask about what might be going through the mind of your staff right now.

  1. Am I going to be safe?
  2. What are our new policies on COVID-19?
  3. What happens if a guest doesn’t respect social distancing protocols?
  4. Are we going to have regular testing at the restaurant and what are the guidelines if someone tests positive?
  5. What can I expect for hours?
  6. What kind of training is going to be added to our restaurant due to COVID-19?

 You want to reopen and get back to business. That is understandable. Your team wants to feel safe and protected. You must find the balance that works for both sides.

People want to work for real leaders. They do. They want someone who looks at them as more than a line item on a profit and loss statement.

You have an opportunity now to take advantage of three things:

  1. Upgrade your team to more A-players.
  2. Upgrade your leadership to A-level.
  3. Upgrade your commitment to creating an outstanding team experience.

Many focus on the guest experience and while that is important, I find that the most successful (and profitable) restaurants focus more on the team experience.

When you do that the guest experience becomes better as a result.

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