Communication is the cornerstone of every good relationship. This is true even of relationships of utility, such as between restaurateur and client, and the relationship between coworkers. The trouble is, certain personality types do not interact well. In these situations, extra effort and a strategy are necessary to bridge the gap. Immediate success is not guaranteed, and some situations will require a greater investment of time and energy than others. The key is not to get discouraged. Perseverance in this regard will either lead you to success, or, the realization that your time will be better spent elsewhere.
Start by Listening
Active listening is a rare skill these days. We live in a world of constant distraction and dwindling social standards of etiquette. Making eye contact, smiling, and directing your attention to the person in front of you, rather than the one in cyberspace, are not common practices; yet, they are still the fundamentals of relating to people. If you are struggling to meet an employee, coworker, or customer on common ground, be sure you are actively listening to them. This is more difficult between colleagues, who are less apt to take time to share their thoughts and feelings freely. Disgruntled guests are usually the most communicative. Patient, active listening is disarming
Further, an important precursor to actively listening is asking the right questions. This requires some insight. For example, if one of your staff members is consistently late in the morning, but you have clear evidence to show that they are invested in their work, casually ask about their homelife. Search for some clues to explain their behavior. Try to figure out what is at the root of their issue to see if there is a way to support them. If you make progress, you will have won a strong employee.
People are world unto themselves. Subpar behavior in the workplace almost always has its origin in personal issues or lack of training. Both of these can be supported or rectified through communication. Some issues can be helped and some can’t. It is the job of restaurant administrators to assess if their employees are strong employees who need certain accommodations or if there are fundamental issues that will never be resolved.
Don’t Forget Humor
People often say, “I laugh to keep from crying”. Ben Franklin once said, “A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small package.” Both of these quotes get at the importance of not taking yourself too seriously. People often strip the joy from life by failing to put things in the proper perspective. Erring on the side of humor allows you to roll more effectively with the punches. People underperform when exposed to extended periods of stress. Maintaining a light-hearted environment within the workplace is good for your bottom line.
When walking through the doors of your restaurant, don’t forget the basics of human interaction. It is easy to go into automatic pilot and become numb to your surroundings. In the long run, it is more beneficial to engage the moment and use strong communication to overcome difficulties.
Challenge: share a cup of coffee with one of your employees whose performance has been off lately. See what you can find.
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