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National Restaurant Association - How to set expectations with your employees

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How to set expectations with your employees

To help employees reach their full potential, leaders should clearly let workers know what they expect. If your employees don’t understand what you expect of them, they won’t have realistic goals or a path to grow in their positions. Setting clear expectations ensures everyone is on the same page and working toward the same mission.

Improve communication and raise the performance level in your restaurant by trying these strategies:

Establish good behaviors from the beginning. Take time with each new hire to discuss exactly how you want things done; you’ll reduce problems and frustration down the line.

“It is important to be upfront from the get-go when setting expectations with employees,” says Marilyn Schlossbach, executive chef and owner of six dining locales along the Jersey Shore. “We always review the core values and mission of the company with interviewees and new hires so that they truly understand who we are and what we expect from our team members.”

Put things in writing. Eliminate doubt by putting information into writing, and encourage employees to thoroughly read manuals and handbooks. Documents serve as a point of reference for everyone and offer quick guidance as well as black and white “proof” of what you expect. Similarly, posting written notes from staff meetings can reduce confusion over what was or wasn’t said.

Be as attentive to the rules as you expect your team to be. All the talk of requiring people to be on time or dress appropriately is useless if employees witness co-workers “getting away” with improper behavior. Workers look at your actions as a guide, so respond and model appropriately.

“Wavering instills a lack of confidence in those being led,” says Dave Weir, CEO of the Los Angeles-based firm Leadership Optimized. “It gives employees a perception that the leader does not know what needs to be accomplished and where to take the organization.”

Offer feedback. Don’t assume your employees know what they’re doing is right or wrong. Positive feedback encourages behaviors you want continued and lets employees know they’re meeting your expectations. Constructive criticism pinpoints areas that need improvement. Most employees want to do a good job, and your feedback is an essential tool for making that happen. Don’t put it off.

“Sometimes we wait to offer criticism until we’re irritated,” says Joseph Grenny, co-author of “Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High.” “That’s a bad idea, because in spite of our best efforts to mask our emotions, the way we offer criticism inevitably changes. Our goal is no longer to be constructive; it’s to punish.”

He also suggests focusing on facts and speaking in nonjudgmental terms that keep people from getting defensive. Telling someone that food from the salad bar wasn’t refrigerated properly last night is much different than calling someone a slacker who doesn’t care about the company. The priority should be to resolve the problem so it doesn’t happen again.

Invite dialogue. Create an atmosphere where employees feel safe to ask questions and present concerns without fear of belittlement or retribution. That can help you figure out how to better present your expectations.

“If your goal is to be constructive, you’ll want to know where your data is wrong, limited or unfair,” Grenny says. “Encourage a healthy discussion. The result of your openness will be a greater openness on the part of the other person.”

And when you keep an open mind and genuinely listen, the end result may be even better than your original expectation.

“I like to give my employees opportunities to come up with their own ways of doing things if their methods are more efficient than the ones I have in place,” says Elfie Weiss, owner of Hotcakes Bakes in Los Angeles. “Kindness and respect will get you far better results than the contrary, and so that is the way I choose to run my business. I like to pass on what I know as well as learn what they have to teach me.”

This content was provided by CareerBuilder.

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