10 Ways to Ruin Morale in Your Restaurant

 In 8. Guest Bloggers, Communication, Employees, Leadership


By Willis Getchell M.Ed, CEC

As I learned the hard way, there is a lot more to being “the boss” than telling people what to do. It’s about building rapport and cultivating relationships with your employees.

Unfortunately, many managers still have little care for employee morale. They fail to realize that morale has an impact on how well your operation runs, and can have a major impact on customer service, productivity, the ability to retain talent and your bottom line.

Here are 10 ways to completely undermine and ruin the morale of your employees. Do the opposite and you’ll have great employee morale in your restaurant and have employees who love coming to work.

1. Don’t accept responsibility for mistakes

Avoid playing the “blame game.” If one of your subordinates makes a mistake, the blame shouldn’t fall solely on him or her. Frequently, managers refuse to accept responsibility for mistakes of their employees. This can not only ruin morale, but also make co-workers timid and fearful.

2. Publicly humiliate others

There’s no reason to put people on the spot publicly. Don’t try to teach people a lesson or make an example of them. They aren’t your children! Instead, pull them aside and deal with the situation in private. Public embarrassment, either in front of guests or co-workers, only serves to make employees scornful, ruining the work environment.

3. Be dishonest

Always be truthful with your employees! It’s acceptable to keep sensitive topics from your workers, but never lie to your employees about them or their nature. This includes promises made to them. Honor the rewards that you commit to (like the raise or promotion you promised) because once you start down that slippery slope, it will be difficult to ever earn that trust back. You will never get the full potential from your team members if there is not a climate of trust.

4. Set impossible goals

Goals exist to encourage people to perform, but when employees are consistently coming up short because the bar is set too high, their morale is going to plummet.

5. Threaten their jobs

Making someone fearful of their livelihood only causes anxiety, fear and distrust. When you make people feel they are instantly replaceable, they have little incentive to perform. It’s easy to crush someone’s spirit if you treat them like a number and not as a unique individual with distinct abilities.

6. Give vague direction

Clarity is of vital performance in the workplace, especially in the service industry. Being busy is no excuse for a manager to not give specific direction.

7. Micromanage

There are few ways to demoralize an employee faster than micromanaging their every move. Nobody wants someone looking over their shoulder. When you micromanage an employee, you’re telling them that you don’t trust their abilities. That discouragement alone is enough to make someone hate coming to work, even if they like everything else about the job.

8. Provide little praise

People need reinforcement that they are doing a good job. If they go through their work life without any, it will take its toll on their spirit. That’s not to say you should be constantly showering your workers with constant compliments. Be able to identify when a team member goes above and beyond the call of duty.

9. Don’t listen to employees

It’s frustrating for an employee when they feel bottled up. Let employees share their opinion or ideas. Sometimes you will find there are good or even great ideas that you can use and employees love to see their own ideas in action. Let them own the idea and be sure to give credit where credit is due.

10. Don’t communicate

Most employees want to feel like they are part of the operation, not just a machine performing tasks. Letting employees know what’s going on throughout the operation makes them feel connected and more invested. And, it’s always better to over communicate.

Remember, do the opposite of these, and you’ll have employees with high morale who enjoy working in your restaurant and who provide service to customers who want to come back to your restaurant again and again.

Willis Getchell is a Certified Executive Chef with experience running his own restaurant and managing corporate and resort settings. He now shares his 30-plus years of well-seasoned experience as a Lead Chef Instructor at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Scottsdale. He is a recognized leader in his profession, receiving numerous honors, including the Institute’s 2006 Award of Excellence and the Valley of the Sun Chef’s Association Chef-of-the-Year award. 

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