When you can successfully foster employee loyalty, it becomes the gift that just keeps on giving. Turnover lessens, employee happiness skyrockets, and you finally get out of the recruiting and onboarding frenzy.
Loyalty can be the tether that keeps employees grounded during those inevitable rough patches.
Here’s how to build your own loyal restaurant crew.
Become a dream creator.
Coming together around hope for a greater future can be an amazing catalyst for deepened connection and loyalty. Your team needs to be able to envision a future for themselves within the framework of the restaurant. If they can’t envision it, then you need to help them see the possibilities available to them and craft the path to get them there.
- Help employees establish short- and long-term goals.
- Regularly discuss advancement opportunities with the team.
- Target funds and resources for career path and succession planning.
- Invest in your people by offering personal and professional development training, mentorship and leadership programs, and tuition reimbursement options.
- Encourage employees to share their successes — everything from enrolling in college to paying off their car loan to earning a supervisory role — and celebrate with them.
- Tap into technology. Play excerpts from TEDx talks during meetings and share interesting articles, book reviews, and podcasts to inspire and motivate your crew.
Demonstrate the loyalty you crave.
If your employees feel as if they are just a body to fill a space, that you’ll cut them loose willy-nilly, or that you are unfair in your dealings, then they are not going to feel valued, respected, or supported. And without that foundation of basic human trust and respect, loyalty can’t gain a stronghold.
- Be loyal. Demonstrate the same level of commitment and devotion you expect.
- Earn employees’ trust by following through on what you say you’ll do. And if can’t for some reason, own up to it.
- Be fair in your interpretation and application of company policies.
- Give employees the benefit of the doubt and exhibit grace, kindness, and understanding when things do go awry.
- Take the time to learn about employees’ interests, both personally and professionally.
Invite employees to be stakeholders.
While I highly recommend that you establish a set of core values along with mission and purpose statements, it’s even more critical that your employees are invested in those initiatives. When they view themselves as stakeholders, they’ll be more committed to seeing things through, especially when the going gets tough.
- Create both visual and verbal reminders of how employees are contributing to the company mission and purpose.
- Encourage employee feedback and suggestions. Bring it full circle by also acknowledging, responding to, and thanking them for their insights.
- Help employees discover their why – why they feel passionate about the life they’re creating and their role in the company.
Sing employee praises.
Your employees thrive on feedback, really and truly. And they need to hear it way more often than once or twice a year during performance reviews.
- Aim to offer constructive feedback and words of encouragement daily, both individually and to the team as a whole.
- Use bulletin boards, email, and even texting to share your personalized messages and touch base with those you don’t see on a frequent basis.
- Share employee wins at team meetings and throughout the shift as they occur.
- Assume the proud parent badge of honor and brag a bit to customers about your employees’ accomplishments. Consider sharing your praise on the restaurant’s website and social media accounts too. It’s good for both sides of the counter to hear how much you value your people.
Be the student.
A manager who professes to know everything leaves absolutely zero room for their crew to step in, find their niche, and become top-notch specialists. And since your goal as a leader is to create a team of capable and thriving experts, remaining in a teachable mindset will serve you best.
- Be willing to be a student and learn from your people — ask them to teach you an aspect of their job or let you in on ways they’ve tweaked a process or procedure. It’s one of the most humbling and endearing things you can do as a manager or business owner.
- Ask lots of questions about what’s working, what’s not, and what changes they would like to see implemented.
- Grant your team the autonomy to make each position their own.