The skeptic's guide to positive thinking

The skeptic's guide to positive thinking

Posted on January 13, 2012 by

You were short-staffed last night for dinner service. The chef had an off night and orders went out wrong. To top it all off, you're trying to reconcile your till and you're coming up short by $250. These are the days that really try you as a restaurant owner or manager. How do you dig in, re-focus the team and, more importantly, keep your own attitude where it needs to be to make tonight a great night for your guests?

Some industry experts swear by the positive thinking or positive energy strategy. You've probably heard of books like The Secret and The Energy Bus-- books that claim that if you put positive energy out, you'll get positive results back ten-fold.

Pardon us for being more than a little skeptical about this. We believe in the old adage that "luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." But if we happen to be positive about it while we're working our tails off, all the better. It probably won't hurt anything. Here are a few positive strategy points that we've read over the years, but taken with a grain of salt.

Positive Point #1. Decide on your goals and follow them.


OK, so any seasoned restaurateur should be laughing at this one, first, because it's so obvious, but second, what ever goes according to plan? We suggest that you set a daily or weekly goal such as, "Greet all our customers the same way this week." Then, reinforce success on this by rewarding your employees when they meet the goal.

Positive Point #2. Rid yourself of energy vampires.


We all have that one (sometimes more) employee that is never satisfied with anything. Positive energy books call these folks vampires because they suck away our energy and time and money. How to deal with it? Prepare for the inevitable. When you explain a new policy or train the team for a new wine that you're pairing with tonight's special, know that person x will not be happy with it and will likely complain loudly. No amount of positive thinking is going to make this person be less of a pain in the @$$. If this pattern continues, consider replacing this person with someone who better fits your team and brand.

Positive Point #3. Happy worker

happy life.


We hate to admit it, but we kind of agree with this one. A happy workforce communicates better, is more complete in following the staff training you've set and is better at working together-- all things that add up to a better bottom line for you.

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