Restaurant Team
This is the 1st GM blog article in a series about staff dynamics in a restaurant work environment.

The restaurant business is hard, not only because of the fast pace of the business but because of the people involved. Many managers have problems keeping and hiring great staff. This seems to be a universal issue in the restaurant business.

There are many reasons for this, which can not be solved overnight. Some of the things you can do in order to build a strong team in your restaurant is lay down some ground work, and present a great plan for team building. After reviewing the benefits of team building, I share some of the strongest strategies to transform your staff into a true team.

Team building has been proven to increase drive and productivity in the workplace; your restaurant is no different. The first thing that you, as manager, will have to do is come up with a game plan. You will have to commit to team building, and stick with it. If you can do this, your reward will be better service for your guests, a better work atmosphere and a lower staff turnover.

Ice Breakers

Ice breakers are the first step in any team building activity. These are very simple “get to know you” exercises that will help your staff loosen up and get along before the real team building begins. These found always be fun and easy, some great examples of ice breakers are:

  1. Three Truths and One Lie
    Play a simple and fun guessing game with your staff to increase awareness and share a little about each other. Pass out notecards to the staff and have them write three true things and one lie about themselves on the cards. Fill out a card for yourself as well. Read your items out loud to the team in a random order and get them to guess which items are true and which is the lie. Have each staff member read his card to the class while others guess which item is the lie.
  2. Search for Someone
    This game is ideal for a group whose members don’t know one another very well. At the beginning of your meeting, hand everyone a sheet of paper with three or four categories. Include things like favorite movie, favorite book, best dance song and favorite food. After everyone has listed their favorites, staff mingle with others to find someone else with the same favorite. Staff must find a different person for each category. This rule keeps friends from finishing the game without meeting anyone new.
  3. Birthday Lineup
    Inform that staff that they cannot talk from this point forward until you give them permission. Have the group get in a line in silence in order by birthday. Once they successfully complete this challenge, you can give the following line up tasks: line up by height, first name, etc.

Once the staff has completed the ice breakers, they will feel a little more connected and free to say what they really mean. One of the issues in restaurants is the amount of staff turn around, making it harder for people to get to know one another.

Keep Your Team Building Fun but Remember Your Role

The other important thing to remember when it comes to team building is the way that the staff views management. In order to be thought of as a strong part of the team, management needs to set a clear list of expectations, and stick with it. No distractions should be permitted during team building, things such as cell phones and iPod’s should always be left at home. A strong voice from management will help the staff know who they can go to when issues to arise. The main team building activity can be anything from a staff party to an outdoor soccer game.

The last thing to know about team building is it needs to be fun. The activities you choose must be relevant for the group that you are working with. The team will bond over common interests, so make sure you know what the team likes to do, before you choose the main team building activity. Make team building something that your team looks forward to.

Team Building Isn’t a One Time Thing

Once you have successfully completed your team building experience, make sure that you stay on the right track. Encourage and up lift your staff, while keeping a close eye on how they interact with one another. Once team building is done, help your staff strengthen new bonds by switching around schedules or making accommodations when needed.

When a team member is not working well with the rest of the team, perhaps they need to be reminded that they are on a team, and must be able to work as such. When you do find issues within your staff, deal with them promptly and in an earnest manor. As one team member who has a bad attitude can create issues for the rest of the team.

Team building for restaurants is difficult, and it is no secret some of the people can be hard to get along with. Although with a strong team leader and a clear direction, your team can go from chaos to calm in no time at all.

Author Bio: Paul Abernathy is a team building specialist who loves helping people build effective teams. You can find multiple articles on his website with topics ranging from general team building activities to more focused categories like team building activities for the workplace.