How to Make Negative Discussions Positive

 In 5. Fred Langley, Leadership, SMART Systems
By Fred Langley

Fred LangleyWhen issues come up in your restaurant, your first instinct might be to find someone to yell at. But although that might make you feel better in the short run, it’s not going to do you any good in the long run.

As a restaurant owner, it is important to take note of any concerns you have and understand how to handle the discussion with your team.

With your concerns top of mind, check that your systems are in place by reviewing the opening manager checklist to see if it was completed. It’s likely the checklist isn’t being opened if you’re having issues.

When the team is working hard and treating your customers well, giving negative feedback is hard. But it’s likely the problem is your management team is winging it. You need to train them to work smarter not harder.

Once a quiet time at the restaurant presents itself, ask to meet with your manager to discuss your concerns. Follow these steps in having a difficult discussion:

➢ Begin the conversation by sandwiching your criticisms with positives. Thank the manager for all of their hard work and then ask to talk to them about your concerns. Immediately you will see their body language change and the walls go up, because in their mind, they don’t know what you’re coming at them about.

➢ Next, provide an explanation of why it is so important to follow the systems and the importance of a good first impression.

➢ The magic comes in the next phrase. Ask, “Am I being unreasonable in any way?” Now if you are truly being unreasonable it gives them a chance to address it, but 99.9 percent of the time it helps them understand you are not trying to be cruel, and that you have a common goal of running a great restaurant.

➢ To conclude the conversation, sandwich your criticism with another positive.

Use this approach often and it will help your team be receptive to your teaching and constructive feedback. After all, am I being unreasonable in asking you to teach your employees in this way?

Fred Langley is the director of operations and restaurant coach for As a former chef and restaurant owner, Fred found a new passion in helping other restaurant owners find success with systems and now focuses on it full time.

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