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Opinion: Practical tips for food service managers and directors to engage and support your associate team during this vulnerable period of time.

Viewpoint: Hitting the 2021 reset button with your management and associate team

Practical tips for food service managers and directors to engage and support your associate team during this vulnerable period of time.

This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of Food Management.

January tends to be the appropriate month to evaluate your business and create team goals for the upcoming year. The coronavirus pandemic has created so many variables on how to manage your client expectations while providing sensitivity to your associates during this unprecedented time.

Although this period is challenging, creating accountable goals with passion and creativity does not have to be compromised as you head into the new year.

Of equal importance is the opportunity to exceed your client’s expectations and heighten the guest experience in 2021. Client employees are also experiencing their own set of adjustments now. Seeing a smiling face and attentive staff member will have a huge positive impact.

AdamWeissBIO_PHOTO.pngPhoto: Adam Weiss

As management leaders, engaging your associates as active participants during this process will give them a sense of value and collaboration. It cannot be emphasized enough that engaging and supporting your associate team is essential during this vulnerable period of time. Employee well-being and management’s caring approach will have a direct impact on the client experience as well as employee retention during this volatile period.  

What steps can you as a food service director do to reset your team?

  • Develop a series of roundtable meetings with your leadership team to identify the overall goals for the new year.
  • Have each member focus on a specific goal and present their recommendations to the group on how to accomplish it.
  • Each goal should be quantifiable and reflect how associates can actively participate.
  • Follow-up meetings should take place with supervisors to review the program, answer questions and welcome input.
  • Reinforce to your management team during the planning period the importance of sensitivity and patience with associates. It is essential that they feel a sense of support from leadership.
  • Develop and route a brief survey to associates to express their expectations of the management team based on the changing environment.
  • Create a steering committee team with an associate from each department that can meet monthly and present recommendations to the leadership team.
  • Increased employee engagement and education should become a mainstay of the overall strategy, team-building sessions, food tastings and reward programs.

Once the overall strategy has been established, schedule a company meeting with the employee base. Roll out the program, answer all questions that have come up and continue to reemphasize the commitment to team members during this transition process. This initial introduction of the company meeting will naturally transition into discussing client expectations and how your overall team can exceed them during the upcoming year.

Adam Weiss is the principal of Weiss Business Solutions, which works with ownership to manage high-stress and high-stakes business decisions, increase well-being throughout the workplace and develop a proactive culture driven by mutual respect and wisdom that will result in increased profitability for an organization. He can be reached at (845) 750-8020.

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