Maintaining better habits in hospitality 

Two weeks ago, I wrote about changing behavioural habits in the industry. Operators have their sights set on growing productivity and engagement amongst their teams with an urgency that hasn’t necessarily been there historically. As well as this, we are all looking at performing operational tasks more effectively. We want to do things quicker and better.  

Of course, we have always strived for happy and busy teams in our businesses. But if we take the ongoing battle with retention and increasing labour costs and add that to the promotion of the more balanced ways of working Gen Z are attracted to, many old school operators have had to rethink the behavioural habits they teach and maintain in their restaurants and bars, for managers as well as team members. 

In an ideal world, we want to foster an environment where staff know and perform best practices, which in turn creates a more engaging and positive place to work.  

I also spoke about the difficulty of establishing behavioural change compared to process change, as the latter is made easier at the hands of technology. Your teams, however, cannot be programmed to maintain the best working practices that systems make easy to identify and implement. Often, we have the tools to make better decisions, but we are not in the habit of using them consistently and to their full advantage.  

There is, however, a case to be made about using process change to enforce best practice habits. I have heard many managers say: “Let’s get labour cracked once and for all.” Sadly, it never seems to happen. There is slow move back to people writing rotas to suit themselves rather than the business. There is a slow move back to the costs being just a bit off, then a bit more off, until we finally sum up the energy to re-embed the habit – again.   

So, the real question is, how do we reinforce positive habit change? 

The answer is, by turning it into a process. Take the habit of writing a shift planner as an example. It’s the most important document of the day; it records what everyone is doing, helps them to stay busy and focused, and drives team behaviour as well as customer service. But, as a discipline, it is scarcely ever trained, and never really enforced.  

It seems to me that the only way for vital activities like this to not end up in the ‘too difficult’ box, is to turn them into a measured and automated process. 

Embedding processes is an ongoing effort. We need to be regularly monitoring the adoption of these new processes; we need to make sure they remain relevant and effective, and we need to recognise and reward people who adhere to them.  

Software makes all of these things possible. That’s the great advantage of it. Once you commit to excellence, it will become a part of your business.

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