The Five Traits of High Performing Teams

21st November 2013
High performing team. Creative Commons Flickr Photo by S. Yume http://www.flickr.com/photos/syume/

Your employees are your ambassadors, the face of your brand, and ultimately the lifeblood of your operations.

Front line staff and management have the unique and often overlooked opportunity to influence your customers. Therefore, it should be no surprise that driving the right behaviors at the employee and store level is your quickest way to operating a profitable restaurant.  Do you want to improve customer satisfaction? Grow average check-size? Increase productivity? Every franchise owner/operator can drive performance improvement by leveraging employees and your existing business data – by setting goals, monitoring performance, and providing a way for staff to gauge their progress. High-performing teams, regardless if they are a sports team, a band, a sales team, or restaurant staff, have several traits in common.

Traits of High Performing Teams

  • They have engaging leadership who are effective decision makers.
  • They have good habits, routines, communicate and share best practices.
  • They have a positive and trusting atmosphere that recognizes and rewards performance.
  • They have clear goals and each person understands their role.
  • They have feedback and are constantly tweaking performance and goals.

How does this apply to restaurant operations?

At the heart of any restaurant operation is data – sales records, food costs, recipes, variances, labor costs (more on why labor costs are so hard to control here), and much more. You are already capturing and analyzing this information to make strategic and operational decisions, but how do you translate this data into something more meaningful and actionable for your employees?  How do you change behavior in real time to up the game of your team?  It starts with enabling managers and engaging employees by reinforcing positive behaviors.

Enable your managers. A manager who has up to date and contextual information can make more effective decisions.  Start using existing data to remove the guesswork around staff scheduling, food ordering, food prep, menu engineering, and in-store promotions. The more transactional and predictive information they have the better; so, that they can prep to meet a rush or send staff home during quiet periods.  If you can present your data, with context, and alert your managers at the right moment, they will spend more time training, motivating, developing your staff and speaking with your customers.  Your leaders should be out in the restaurant, not sitting in the back office.

Effective managers lead to more effective employees

Engaged employees are more likely to go the extra mile for you and help create a winning atmosphere and customer focused team.  How do you better engage a team leveraging the data you already have?

  • Create a culture of competition – Use sales and labor data to set goals and create friendly competition – shift vs. shift, store vs. store – create competitions, contests, and a leaderboard to drive results around goals like up sells, drink percentage, line speed, number of units sold, productivity etc. These competitions should be aligned directly with the areas you want to improve.  Read more about that here.
  • Recognize, reward, and promote top performers – Leverage your sales data to identify top performing individuals and uncover coaching/training opportunities with under performers. Your data should support decisions to promote from within, provides bonuses and praise.  This will lower employee turnover and increase job satisfaction, which goes a long way to keeping morale high and every ounce of performance out of your team.
  • Remove barriers – Make it easy for your employees to do their job and know what is expected of them.  Again, a leaderboard with the key performance indicators (KPIs) are helpful. Use your data to set benchmarks, measure performance, and provide predictive information on what tasks staff need to complete to keep their part of the machine running smoothly.  Also give them the ability to see their schedules, make shift swaps, request time-off, and access the best practices and information they need to do their jobs well.  If you have the right staff, right inventory, and right amount of prep, employees can be more effective at their jobs, and removing their guesswork and frustration boosts satisfaction.
  • Environment of trust – One of the quickest ways to sour a team is to lose their trust.  Internal theft can be poison to your team.  It not only steals money out of your pocket, but also teamwork suffers if staff and management don’t trust each.  Use clock-in/out, cash, inventory and sales data to isolate problem areas or individuals and remove unwarranted suspicion.

How are you motivating and enabling your staff and management?  What insights have you gained from your data that led to tangible changes?  Let us know what is working and not working in the comments section below.



Performance Expert at LIVELENZ. Sales guy excited by operations and sales strategy for high growth companies. Lover of all things, tech, music, and photography.

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