Inconsistency in team performance is inevitable. How do you flatten the peaks and troughs?

‘We’re only human after all and no one is prefect’. This is the approach I take when coaching at all levels of industry simply because this is reality. The purists in your business may be less forgiving. But if you start out with the premise that mistakes are inevitable we can swiftly move on to strategies to minimise the impact of the errors that affect the customer experience and in doing so protect your business.

The problem with expecting perfection is that the drop off to failure is swift and constant and this ultimately sours staff morale just as quickly. Expectations of perfection drive recriminations and the negative blame game which ultimately lowers trust within your team. This in turn drives reduced productivity and a lowering of interest a colleague will eventually have in even turning up for work. Chuck in mental health issues and before you know it, your vision and hopes for perfection become a tattered mess. I’ve seen this so many times. That’s not to say that errors go unnoticed and are never discussed. The key is to track the error back to rounded, investigated context, the training/learning programmes you have in place, and the oversight by managers and supervisors.

You can’t discipline someone if they’ve never been trained.

Let’s face it, effective, career shaping training in hospitality is patchy. There’s a reason we pay minimum wage. Adding thousands of pounds of training onto minimum wage doesn’t help the wage bill. This can lead to the most ineffective training model of learning by rote – do as I do – which often takes forever and includes a swathe of bad habits passed down through the team.

When a team member drops the ball the first question that needs to be asked is whether said individual has received the training that would have prevented the error in the first place. If not, the team member has absolutely no case to answer. It’s a different matter though for the manager who needs to explain why training hadn’t taken place and if training hadn’t taken place, why said team member was undertaking a task not trained for.

The key to minimising the risk of errors lies with the managers and supervisors to be vigilant in aligning team member capability to the task in hand.

You can’t discipline someone for genuinely trying. Be patient.

Practice makes perfect when developing people in hospitality. We operate in an incredibly kinaesthetic industry that relies hugely on muscle memory, time awareness and managing the ebb and flow of multi faceted team pressures. For this reason the development of experience can’t attract significant front line risks. You can’t expect an 18 year old to carve a Chateaubriand at the table in the first week, unsupervised when they’ve had no opportunity to practice. The young chef can’t be left with a Paco Jet unsupervised, whilst the housekeeping assistant definitely can’t be left alone in the laundry. All of these activities need on the job supervision and documented training to guide the development of their experience.

You need to give your team a place (including head space) to make their mistakes so by the time they’re left to get on with it, risks to the guest experience have already been minimised.

How you discipline your team can be a positive source of motivation.

We’ve all seen Gordon Ramsay going at young chefs on TV when they make mistakes. Thankfully, the reality is that the put downs, sarcasm and foul language won’t motivate people in todays hospitality industry. Maybe it’s because of what youngsters see on TV that we’re seeing less and less considering hospitality as a career.

Compassion isn’t the first reaction hospitality leaders are known for, but it’s this quality in a leader that will heal the pain of a mistake faster than any other, and put your people back on track with confidence to have another go quickly.

Compassion is difficult to prioritise when the error that was made has potentially created other priorities that you also have to deal with. You may have to deal with angry customers setting out that your business is not fit for purpose. Your own boss maybe coming down hard on you, whilst team members may give their colleague a hard time. Compassion at the outset is really tough to deliver but the more staff that benefit from it, the easier and quicker the culture of a business changes. When eventually compassion becomes the norm in the face of forced/pressured errors, everyone just cracks on within the trust led culture.

Reducing deep peaks and troughs in performance creates its own team buoyancy.

If you hire the right people and dedicate yourself to training them, and demonstrate an ethos that mistakes are all part of the learning process, you remove a lot of what staff fear in the workplace. The net result of this approach is that you encourage and establish a strong and loyal team that work for each and are more likely to outperform.

Things begin to happen when you treat others as you’d want to be treated yourself.

If you’re looking for practical assistance in reshaping your company culture, get in touch.

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