Is It Time for a Training Detox?

Posted on May 30, 2017 by Michelle Locke

In the month of June, we will be focusing on the needs of restaurant workers and issues that affect them most.

One thing we are passionate about at Waitrainer+ is improving the lives of all restaurant workers: from bussers to business owners, we want to decrease stress, increase morale, and help restaurants succeed.

The most successful restaurants have excellent employee morale. That means that their employees feel confident in their jobs, are happy to go to work, and work to do their absolute best because they know it matters. When it comes to employee morale, it’s a huge stepping stone to building a restaurant culture that encourages employees to act as brand ambassadors. (To learn more about brand ambassadors, click here.)

One of the first steps to encouraging employee morale, improving the lives of your employees, and developing that all important positive restaurant culture is detoxifying your training.

What does that mean? Let’s break it down.

1. Is Your Training Toxic?

Firstly, what kind of training do you provide to your employees? If you operate under the “sink or swim” policy, we highly suggest you change. Comprehensive written training (including quizzes) plus measured hands-on training is more effective towards building trust, nurturing confident employees, and improving morale. If you need help with this, contact us here.

If you do already offer written training, we highly recommend going through your training to remove phrases that can be interpreted as aggressive, micromanaging, or sexist. A prime example we see frequently at Waitrainer+ is referring to all servers or hosts as “the girls”; such as, “every night, the girls should wipe down all the tables.” Language in your training should be emotionally neutral and refer to a broad “employee”--not dividing employees into gender groups.

2. Is Your Management Toxic?

There is a management style called Seagull Management. The basic notion of this style is that a manager only interacts with employees when they see a problem and it needs to be corrected. Basically, if you have managers who only have negative interactions with employees, that’s a problem. It’s not an effective management style for improving problems or raising employee morale. If an employee only feels critiqued, they won’t feel the need to improve or try to do their job because they are only getting feedback when they mess up—not when they succeed.

Watch how your managers interact with other employees. As well, don’t be afraid to ask employees how they feel about management… and take their suggestions seriously. If they feel downtrodden, they aren’t going to be the stellar employees you need. If you notice any “Seagull” traits, address it with your managers immediately. Start encouraging pre-shift meetings with acknowledgement for employees who succeed.

3. Do Your Policies Encourage Safety?

Another issue we often see in training is that policies often focus entirely on keeping the restaurant moving along—and not on employee safety. Your number one job as a restaurant owner is to provide a restaurant is 1) safe for customers and 2) safe for your employees. If your focus is instead on ensuring your restaurant keeps going regardless of anything else, that needs to be addressed.

Our CEO, Todd Edman, often tells the story of a restaurant he visited once that did nothing to address sexual harassment of female servers and hosts. These employees had to accept it as part of their job and the restaurant owner and managers did not want to turn away paying customers just because an employee was uncomfortable. We cannot tell you how toxic and inappropriate that is. If an employee feels unsafe at their work, it is the responsibility of the restaurant to remove the threat, whether it is a handsy man on a business lunch or an aggressive group at the bar. It’s better to lose one sale than to risk getting a bad reputation among restaurant workers.

Want more information on how to detox your restaurant's training? Contact us here. You can also follow us for tips & advice on Twitter and Instagram.