Retaining & Motivating Your Winning Team

March 28, 2009 by · Comments Off on Retaining & Motivating Your Winning Team 

I continually hear from operators that today’s labor force is, “just not what it used to be” and that it has, “become harder and harder to find good help”. While this may possibly be true, there are people in this day and age who have been taught values and have a work ethic. It is up to you as a manager to find and secure them, to get this type of person on “your winning team”. Based on my experience as a trainer opening over forty restaurants for the Houlihan’s chain, I have found it’s up to the management to become leaders (or cheerleaders as I like to call them) and to educate and “cheer on” their staff. When it comes to retaining and motivating employees, the first person at whom to look is yourself. What kind of an example are you setting? Are you the type of person people want to work with and for, as opposed to against?

Once again, the first step is to hire the right people. In hiring 101, my first lesson is that, Attitude Outweighs Skill! As a training manager, I figured out rather quickly that it is easier to teach a skill than it is to change an attitude. I’ve seen managers hire only people that have experience. Unfortunately, a lot of the times the seasoned employee brings a bad attitude with that experience. I feel it is impossible “to motivate” someone. People motivate themselves. However, as a role model it is possible to “modify behavior”, it just takes a lot more time and work on your part.

So, assuming you’ve hired right, the next step is supplying knowledge and educating your staff. This requires clear and complete communication. You need to let your newly hiredpersonnel know from day one, exactly what is expected of them. You should be conducting meetings on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Make sure they have all the information they need to do there job. That means that they 1) have a complete written job description and information about the operation, 2) have sampled every item on the menu and any specials you are offering, 3) can describe the dishes, know the ingredients used and how the dishes are prepared and served.

Motivation is something within a person that incites him/her to action–Drive. When it comes to motivating, there are a number of incentives (behavior modification cues) that you can provide. Some of these are: money, promotions, employee achievement awards, contests with prizes, health care insurance, educational opportunities, tuition reimbursement, day care facilities, transportation, stock options or even a percentage of ownership. All of these come off of the bottom line, and if you’re like a lot of operators out there, that’s just not so easy to do these days.

So I like to look to Free Incentives, which are just as motivating if not more so and only require the investment of your time. Great leaders inspire their people to want to achieve and to want to be a team player. They “cheer” them on at all times. Leader’s delegate responsibility. They allow their staff to be part of the decision making process. People motivate themselves when they realize that they are valued and they have a say in their job.

Praise and recognition for a job well done is another great behavior modifier. Think about how often you correct or reprimand your staff as opposed to praising them. Unfortunately, in our society we are programmed from childhood with substantially more negatives than positives. Start “catching” your people doing things right instead of when they are doing things wrong. Create an environment that lets them know how much you appreciate them and how you couldn’t do without them. After all, that is the truth! If you could run your operation by yourself you would, but you can’t, so tell your people how you feel and reap the rewards.

Delegating responsibility is not about giving up your power and control. It’s about giving yourself less stress, which in turn will create a more positive environment. I believe when it comes to work, we should have fun and make money! My premise is very simple and basic. It is up to you to have fun in your work and to allow all of your people to have fun in their work as well. If you allow them that opportunity and you supply them with the knowledge and tools to do their jobs, they will be happier in their jobs, reduce your turnover and in the long run make you more money. This is called creating a win-win situation for yourself and your associates.

I’ve had my fair share of discussions with operators on how people are motivated and I continually hear that money is the answer. While money will motivate a good majority of your people, it is short term. Think long term, hire people who exhibit a positive attitude and who possess the behavioral style best suited for the job, constantly remind yourself that you are their “cheerleader” and role model, and don’t forget that your attitude and behavior will set the tone and has a direct effect on everyone around you. By following these simple steps you will be well on your way to retaining and motivating your winning team!