Communication – the key to every successful business

A skilled business manager/chef must be able to manage his/her teams as well as delegate, spearhead new ideas and assess business successes and failures, whilst managing the figures and controlling costs. However, to be able to do any of this successfully, a chef/manager must be able to communicate. In this article, John Wood looks at why this is so important.

Why Communicate?

Lack of communication in a business is extremely detrimental to the success and team ‘buy-in’ to everything you try to do. Managers /chefs that know how and are great communicators, both in a structured format and a daily pre-service chat/briefing will create a better bond with their team. Studies have shown that turnover of staff is reduced, which then leads to a higher level of consistency, and which ultimately gives you happier staff and happier customers… all of which results in a successful business!

Types of Communication

There are two types of communication, which are important for managers:
  1. Top-down communication
  2. Bottom-up communication.
In other words, managers should be able to communicate policies, procedures and instructions clearly to their employees; however, they should also be able to listen to communication from employees and make changes based on issues that the employees face. Good business managers/chefs also need to be able to communicate in a number of different ways, including in large groups, face-to-face, online and in writing.

Frequency of Communication

  • Frequency of communication is also very important – ensure there is a fine balance between bombarding your teams with far too much information all day and not supplying enough for them.
  • Regular meetings with your teams to apply and use both levels of communication that allows the manager/chef to communicate important issues, facts and figures as well as targets for the business.
  • Allow the team to communicate any challenges, frustrations and any help that they require to assist them in doing their job more effectively and efficiently.
  • An ‘open door policy’ is a widely-used term and can be hugely beneficial to encourage your teams to be able to approach you anytime with any questions or concerns they have.
  • You need to ensure that when dealing with personal issues that you deal with these behind closed doors or out of earshot of the rest of the team and where you will not be interrupted.

Audience for Communication

It’s important that managers/chefs have a good understanding of what subjects need to be communicated to which people in an organisation. Withholding information that’s appropriate for the entire organisation to know may be detrimental to that organisation’s success. For example, communication on any changes to recipes or specs needs to be communicated to everyone within the F&B operation, however communicating personal or sensitive information can be detrimental and demoralising. Celebrating success and everything about your menus, suppliers and awards that you and they have achieved is great to communicate to your customers through your team. Some businesses prefer NOT to share financial information about the business with their teams, which is fine, however what is important to communicate to the team is what food, drinks, glassware, cutlery and crockery costs and what food and beverage margins are being achieved. Many Junior staff have no idea of what costs are incurred in running a business and are never taught this during their career. However when they are eventually promoted to manager or head chef they are supposed to understand and control this. IT IS NEVER TOO EARLY to learn how the business works.

Key communication traits

  1. Listen to others’ ideas, concerns and respond to them and publicly thank them in front of the team.
  2. Concise directions and details are to be given in a language that is appropriate for the audience.
  3. Verbal and non-verbal communication will be used and with the use of emails and even text messages they need to carefully written and double checked before sending to ensure that this has been written in the same tone as you would speak it.
  4. Good and bad news will both need to be communicated well, and with similar amount of thought given before delivering either.


Communicate with your teams regularly BUT always plan and think about what you are going to say as they will remember more how you say it rather than what you have said.

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