Here are my 3 keys to building a positive team culture.
Before we discuss the logistics of how to create a positive team culture, let’s unravel what the term ‘culture’ actually means. Some employers may write ‘the culture at our workplace is so fun because we have a slide, a free lunch buffet, a punching bag, and so many more cool things that will keep you entertained or relieve your pain when a customer interaction goes totally wrong’ into a recruitment advertisement, fully believing that their culture derives from the toys and amenities provided. An interested person may read the ad and gather the impression that that workplace appears fun and hip, but what happens when they walk into their first day with elevated expectations, only to find that the other workers are dull, the manager is passive-aggressive, and no one slides down the slide?
Culture is born when co-workers and managers work synonymously to empower and believe in one another, and when they can create an environment that allows workers and employers alike to grow as a person and in their job.
It may be easier for companies with employees who have degrees related to their job, benefits, and, security to keep workers for long-term, but an industry (like hospitality) where employees have little to no reason to stay often results in a quick turn-over rate. However, a positive team culture could persuade employees to commit to their job for a more extended period.
Working in the hospitality management sector comes with a lengthy list of difficulties, but creating a positive team culture may help! Here are three suggestions on how to improve the environment within your workplace:
1. Don’t treat your employees like robots
Believe it or not, your employees are people who express emotion, have lives outside of work, and they know when they are just a short-term solution. It is also vital for your employees to understand that you too have feelings, emotions and that some workdays are more stressful, painful, and strenuous than others. The foundations of team culture stem from honesty, respect, and understanding between you and your workers. If your employees do not respect you, they won’t care about hurting your feelings if they quit after three weeks.
One way to garner respect is to show you care about them! When you hire someone, you could ask them to fill out a personality test to understand how they learn and react to criticisms and stressful situations, which may bridge a personal connection (without losing your professionalism) between you and your employee. This tactic may work best for smaller hospitality businesses and venues, but places that have a lot of employees could introduce a monthly team outing where employees can see what you are like when you are relaxed, where they can catch a glimpse of your outside-of-work-personality. Employees want to know that you are a real person, and they want to feel like valued people and not machines.
2. Do show that employees are worth more than money
Forbes relays the message that exceptional team culture happens “when you demonstrate that mission is more important than profits.” When an employee accidentally messes up an order, resulting in a free meal for the customer, a poor manager will more likely than not yell at their employee because they are worried about the money their venue just lost. The employee will feel down and may treat customers with less pep than usual, which in turn, could result in the customer not wanting to return due to unexceptional service. Eventually, the employee may stop showing up, and the restaurant will be short-staffed with servers running around everywhere, trying to accommodate guests, but it is still not enough to please those who are paying for service.
This scenario may seem dramatic, but it highlights how culture in a workplace can turn sour very fast, which may or may not lead to reduced revenue.
However, a happy culture and environment will motivate workers to come to work, they won’t want to call in sick, and they will want to do a good job to impress you, which may result in the customer having a better time and wanting to return, and therefore, a higher revenue. Employees want to believe that you value them more than money, and when you do, your business may profit.
3. Do provide space for your employees to develop relationships with one another
Penny Wolff, a restaurateur in Brisbane, discusses the importance of allowing workmates to develop friendships and relationships with one another, “she says that creating teams of like-minded individuals whose personality will compliment the others is really important to creating a strong team culture.” However, before you begin hiring for your startup, or restaurant, hotel, or bar, you should take the time to sketch the type of personalities you want working for you. Do you want fun and peppy? Or focused and hardworking? Do you want outgoing and extroverted or is your business better suited for introverted people who can spend hours working on their own? Once you develop your vision of which types of people will join your workplace, you can begin bringing in like-minded individuals who fit your cultural vision.
When your workplace employs people who complement one another, it makes it easier for friendships to blossom, relationships to develop, ultimately building trust and respect between one another. Planned team outings will not only allow employees to see you as a real person, but they will also have the chance to get to know one another. And customers will notice the synchronicity between your staff too.
“It doesn’t take a highly perceptive customer to notice a good ‘vibe’ about a venue. When the staff are happy and smiling, working together, and enjoying the space, customers feel relaxed and at ease.”
Working in hospitality management can be difficult, due to the quick turn over rates and customer complaints, but you can make your life a lot easier by enforcing a positive team culture. You want your employees to feel safe enough to ask for a day off because their grandma is unexpectedly visiting, or to have the ability to freely discuss ways to improve the menu, your website, room service, with you (without being scared). Great culture derives from trust, openness, and an ability to understand one another.