Tips for management success: How to get your team on board

Article by Red Book Solutions

What’s up for your operation this year? A new POS system? New features? Better organization? Streamlined service checkpoints? Whatever you’ve determined needs a change this year, congratulations! As we all know, change is more than inevitable, it’s critical. As author and politician Bruce Barton once said, “When you are through changing, you are through.”

Unfortunately, change hurts. A lot. And many of us

—and more of our employees—would rather suffer the way it is than face the unknown. But if everyone on the team doesn’t accept—and even embrace—the change, your chances for success are, well, close to zero.
Many operators tend to take a hard line when it comes to change… “a love it or leave us” approach that does nothing to motivate team members. And unmotivated team members forced to take on new tasks or revamp old ones become team members with low morale. Soon, your service, your products, and ultimately, your customers are suffering right along with your team members.

Instead, why not create a proactive team that causes change to happen, instead of being dragged along with it? Here are some tips on how to get your team on board:

  • Tell the truth. If you ask team members how much profit a restaurant makes from $1 in sales, many would say around 75 cents. (Don’t believe it? Try it at your next staff meeting.) Here in the real world, we know that a dime is closer to the truth. Your team members should also know what’s at stake to make their operation successful. When introducing a change, share hard facts with your team. Include financial information, customer and employee feedback (that led to the need for a change), and industry projections and data from processes you measure (portion size, waste ratio, etc.).
  • Worry them a little bit. “The only difference between a rut and a grave is their dimensions,” said Ellen Glasgow, and she’s right. Change is critical. Your operation cannot succeed without it. No profits, no pay raises. No customers, no restaurant. It’s not a gloom and doom speech—and it absolutely shouldn’t monopolize the conversation about the needed change—but it’s important to note what the change will fix and why everyone on the team needs that solution. (And, if you can’t come up with some very compelling reasons for the change, ask yourself: “Am I sure it’s needed?”)
  • Ask for input. After you’ve identified a change, conduct a team meeting to brainstorm solutions. If the change doesn’t require team input (and, again, make sure that’s truly the case), ask for ways that the team can effectively implement the change. Discuss all ideas, note, print out and implement the successful concepts, and monitor the progress of the implementation of the change… and not the change itself. Periodically, discuss the progress and don’t be afraid to revamp it as you go.
  • Reward successes. All positive implementation efforts should be rewarded, regardless of the final success of the change. The effort is what you want to focus on. The strategy can easily be changed, but when morale falls, it’s very difficult to build it back up and get team members excited about trying again. Instead, recognize those working to implement change, reward team members when short-term goals are met, and include employees’ change efforts in employee reviews, compensation and promotion discussions.

Empower Employees During a Change

A change is an evolving process and your employees—and their success—are the strongest indicator of your change’s chance for success. Here’s how to empower them to think a bit outside of the box during a change:

  • Trust them. It may not be the way you would do it, but it might work. And your willingness to trust an employee often outweighs the outcome of any failed attempt.
  • Update them. Often employees operate in a vacuum, never hearing what’s working or what other employees—or customers—are saying. It’s hard to stay motivated if it seems nothing’s happening.
  • Meet with them. When you regularly—and specifically—ask employees how changes are going, you’ll gather much-needed information, communicate your support and boost morale.
  • Promote them. If an employee has been successful, empower him or her to show others how to do the same. Team leads and other roles move employees into new responsibilities that are often more rewarding.

The following sources were consulted for these articles:
“Change Management Lessons,”
“Accounting and Financial Analysis in the Hospitality Industry,” Jon Hales
Service That Sells! Monthly Update, January, 2004,

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