Inspire & Motivate your F&B Team

10 Ways to Inspire and Motivate Your F&B Team | Kitchen CUT

So, you’ve recruited a great F&B team. You’ve spared no expense on the time and resources to select, interview and employ the very best applicants for the role.  After all, good people are what makes a good business. Yet more and more we are seeing that it’s not just choosing the right people that is fundamental to an operation’s success, it’s keeping them.  With over 35 years in the industry, John Wood knows a thing or two about nurturing, developing and keeping the best teams in the business…. Here he gives his top 10 ways to inspire and motivate.

Retention of staff is fast becoming a global issue in the industry, yet it is astounding just how little effort companies put into ensuring that their teams are motivated and inspired enough to want to stay.

F&B team Training QuoteI constantly hear and read about industry experts informing us that there is an International shortage of chefs and service people entering the industry, and with more and more establishments opening all the time, this problem is becoming exacerbated. New openings run the risk of devoting all their energy to the concept, the look, the menu, yet overlooking one fundamental ingredient to ongoing succcess – the staff.  Induction training and development plans are a key factor in keeping your team engaged and incentivised.

Some of the more affluent companies try to offer inflated salaries and benefits to attract and retain staff with usually very little success.  During my consultancy years, one client that I worked with had a huge issue in regard to staff retention and had a turnover of 80% in their kitchens. The general consensus was they needed to pay more to attract better staff and retain them.  However, after working for over 30 years with chefs (and being one myself!) I know that money simply is not their main motivator.  So, instead of increasing salaries we put in a proper structured training and development programme for the F&B team, with clear KPI’s and succession plans for every chef.  Within 6 months the turnover had reduced to 8% and stayed at that level for the entire time that I worked there. We saved £100k in recruitment costs and reduced inflated casual labour costs, which lowered the payroll by a further £75k.

It’s the companies that spend time on nurturing, training and developing their teams, whilst rewarding them with praise that  retain staff longer. We should spend more time on retention than on recruitment, there is no point in “trying to fill a leaky bucket.”

Inspire, motivate and develop your F&B team

You have the best people on board, and you want to keep them, to train, nurture and develop them and here are my top 10 suggestions on just how to do that:

1. Induction

The first 3 weeks of a new team member’s employment is when they are at their most vulnerable. This is when an employee makes a decision about whether they like this company or not. Admittedly they may not leave straight away, but first impression is everything.

No matter what size or type of operation you run, it is imperative that you put together a structured induction plan for each member of staff; introducing them to the business, how it works, who the other team members are and what they do, what facilities there are and what tools they have to do their job. There also needs to be a clear expectation of what you require from them, as well as what you intend to deliver to them.

Introducing a “Buddy system” where you team up every new recruit with someone that works in their department/ area that will show and explain to them what they should do and where they should go. It is also worth creating a simple Induction sheet/booklet. Some of the key things to cover are:

  • Weekly or monthly shifts and rotas that are easily accessible.

  • Who they need to speak to in order to book specific shifts/ days off?

  • Location of changing rooms and washrooms.

  • Where they get their uniform from and how do they get it cleaned/ changed?

  • Explanation of payment and how this works in your business.

  • Holiday entitlement and request process.

  • Staff feeding – if it’s offered, where and when is it available and are there any limitations?

  • Some history/ background on the business.

  • Images and positions of key people in the business.

  • What the company vision and objectives are.

  • Their own job description outlining their role, responsibilities, reporting (up & down), KPI’s (see below)

2. KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators)

These will and should be different for each position in the business.  They will normally appear the job description in the first instance and then in regular reviews. Put simply, KPI’s are the top 4-5 performance expectations you have for this position/person.

Examples of this are: Being able to lead their team, improving the quality of the food/service, create innovative and creative menus, manage the financial margins of food/ beverage.

By giving each person clear KPI’s, they can be evaluated on a regular basis and any advice or support required to help achieve these targets, can then be provided. By keeping a record of these KPI reviews with dates and times with of what was agreed along with a desired action date, the employee will know you care and have a desire to improve their skills

3. Avoid repetition

Boredom is one of the most common reasons for seeking employment elsewhere. Doing a repetitive and tedious job that has no opportunity for you to grow and develop will soon wear thin with even the most loyal employee. Ensure that your team does not have to do the same tasks in the same location on the same shift all the time. Move them around into different areas of the kitchen/restaurant. Try to create a structured “Development plan” for each member of the team so you and they can track what they have learned and see how they have developed.

4. Praise and Recognition- Individual

We all like to be told we’ve done well.  By making sure that when an individual does something well, excels in their position or goes above and beyond their normal call of duty that they are publically and personally praised, you are letting them know that they are an appreciated and valued part of the time and that their efforts have been recognised. How much you do this will depend on what they have done, byt try to be consistent with the level of praise in regards to how far they have excelled.

It’s also important to make sure that positive praise is spread throughout the team.  Continually telling one shining star that they are wonderful may cause resentment and jealousy with other team members.

5. Praise and Recognition – Team

Team recognition is extremely powerful and when done well has a huge impact on many people at the same time. Celebrate with a gesture of food or drink, such as buying everyone an ice cream for a great service on a really hot and challenging day.

6. Get to know your team

Try to fit in a catch up with one or two of your team every week. Don’t only talk about work, try to find out about them and what they enjoy outside work. Try to remember the names of their children, family, pets and know more about their hobbies and interests. After your meeting make a note of these details (not during your meeting!) and keep them on file to refer to on your computer/ phone.

7. Birthdays, anniversary’s and special occasions

If you know or find out a special date in any of your teams lives it is extremely powerful to personally recognise it and mention it to the them and the team if suitable. However, remembering everyone’s birthday apart from one person could have a negative effect on them, so do try to be consistent.

8. Social events

Team events outside work are a great opportunity to create a good team spirit, whilst everyone gets to know each other better. Sociable events such as bowling, dinner, night club tend to work much better than the cinema.

9. Message-board

Display news, successes, events, employee of the month and only positive communications on work message-boards. Celebrate with positive terminology on all messages. Create competitions e.g Dish of Month, best up-seller of the month to entice people to contribute to the success and innovation in the business.

10. Lead by example

Never expect any member of the team do anything that you would not do. Occasionally step up to the mark and show your team that you are not afraid to roll your sleeves up and do it yourself when needed. Every now and again is more than enough, your team still need a leader and you can not lead them by “Being one of the boys.”

Create a fun and friendly environment, whilst ensuring everyone knows who is in charge.



For more advice and support on training and developing your F&B team, visit our blog.

You can get more information about Kitchen CUT by emailing support@kitchencut.com or calling +44(0)330 113 0050

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