Why Consistency Is Important In Managing
Consistency, a rule for excellence
Here is the definition of Consistency.(We will discuss the importance of both.)
Definition 1: Conformity in the application of something, typically that which is necessary for the sake of logic, accuracy, or fairness.
It is important to the health of your restaurant, how dependable your staff sees you, and how easy it will make your life, that you are consistent.
But, what should you be consistent about?
Make your mind up today on how you would treat each of the following restaurant issues:
- What happens when someone shows up late?
- What about when they do it more than once, twice, or three times?
- What happens when someone no calls/ no shows?
- What happens when someone doesn’t know the menu? What level are they expected to know it?
- What happens when someone’s section is un-managed? What happens when their section is consistently un-managed? What does an un-managed section look like?
- What happens when someone is rude to a co-worker?
- What happens when there is a new dish and someone hasn’t tried it? Does everyone get to try every new dish, every time?
Like a lot of work?
It is…but, it’s not.
Why should be consistency vs. dealing with situations on a case by case basis?
Because being arbitrary is the lazy way and it wins you no friends and creates an emotionally (and physically) messy restaurant.
Being inconsistent doesn’t necessarily make you a shitty restaurant, but it certainly doesn’t make you a great one. And you don’t want to run one of those restaurant. If you did, you wouldn’t be here.
The easy way to begin down the road of consistency
Today. On your next decision.
Is that too easy?
Maybe a formula would be better?
Reaction Required + Conscious Decision = Best Decision
Best Decision × Repetition = Right Direction
Okay. The next time you come into a situation where a fair response, punishment, or reward is needed, before you decide what the response is, think it over.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What if my favorite server did this? Would my reaction be the same or different?
- What if I did this? Would I grant myself leniency?
- What if my least favorite person did this?
If you are thinking “but everyone is different! My favorite server knows better. My least favorite person is only part time!” Then it is YOUR responsibility to create an equal playing field. All of your servers should be A-Team. Every. Single. One. And getting them there is up to you.
This one time...
I had a manager. This manager had to arrive early every Tuesday for one particular shift. On three separate occasions in a two month time frame this manager was late, like 1 hour+ late. The last time it happened, instead of arriving at 9:30 they arrived at 12:30…(the managers alarm never went off).
Fast forward 1 year…
This manager has three servers for that same Tuesday morning shift. One is scheduled to arrive at 9:00 a.m, the other two are scheduled to arrive at 9:45 a.m. One Tuesday, both 9:45’s arrive late: at 10:00am. Guess who absolutely freaks out about it? Yup, the same “late Manager”. The manager yells, is very upset, and makes the new arrival time (for the two tardy servers) 9:00 am for their next Tuesday shift…as punishment.
- How would you feel if you were those late servers?
- How would you feel if your were that manager?
- How do you think the manager should have handled it?
- Should the punishment have started with the manager or should managers be excused from the same punishments as staff?
leader to people leader that people respect requires that you think of how your decisions effect everyone: you, your service team, your kitchen brigade, and your customers.
The exception proves the rule
One of the things that draws me and you to the restaurnt industry is it’s ability to “not be corporate.” It may sound like that is what I am gunning for you to create: a more corporate ran restaurant. While most corporate restaurants have their shit together in terms of protocol, I don’t want you to be a corporate feeling restaurant.
You have the liberty to be arbitrary in your reactions. But, the more uniform you become the more fair you will be seen.
Your decisions will hold more weight.
You’ll gain more respect from you staff.
I know there will be times when the arbitrary response will be required to maintain fairness, but when those rare occasions occur, your staff will question your decision less.
After all, you are always fair and honest in your responses, so why would you stop being fair now?
Because of all the times you handled things consistently, you have gained respect from your staff.
Your staff is less likely to nit pick your decisions because they trust their leader.
A trusted leader is rarely scrutinized…it’s just too boring!
Definition 2: The achievement of a level of performance that does not vary greatly in quality over time.
Remember that one time you went to that awesome restaurant and had excellent food and the most attentive service you have every had? It was awesome!!!
Then remember when you kept talking about it, how you couldn’t wait to go back, eat great food again and be, once again, in the hands of a competant server?
Then the day arrives when you finally got to go back!
You are excited!
You dress up.
Maybe hire a babysitter, take the dog on an extra long walk, pick up dry cleaning, clean out the car…
And you finally arrive.
And it sucks!
What the hell happened? This isn’t what you remember! Is this place under new management? Is there a new Chef? What happened to our server? Why did we like this place so much the first time???
You’ve just been smacked with the dreaded inconsistency stick.
You’ve been smacked in your mouth (remember all the people that you recommended dine there), over your head (what where you thinking coming back here?), and in your wallet (I can’t believe I have to pay this frickin’ bill!).
Inconsistency in food and service can kill a restaurant because it kills the customer, and the customer is your restaurant.
People (wisely) break up with inconsistent partners. They give away inconsistent dogs. They don’t drive inconsistent cars. They stop hanging out with inconsistent friends.
So why would they keep dining at an inconsistent restaurant?
So, how do you create consistency? What needs to be consistent?
It all starts with training and it ends with following up with employees and being consistent in dealing with people who aren’t consistent.
What if all of your service team are not the same, what does that make them?
You will always have a server that is stronger than another. A team member who is neater than another. A team member who is always early. Etc. But they should be even enough where it counts; they should be accountable for delivering on your consistent expectations–the expectations of the restaurant.
If you don’t believe that all of your employees are the same YOU must figure out how to get them at the same level.
How can you do that?
- Hold weekly workshops that will get everyone on the same page.
- Go over the server handbook and make sure everyone is aware of protocol.
- Let part timers go. Yes, fire your part timers. There is no server that can work only a few days a week and be a Rock Star. Oh, you don’t need Rock Stars? Bullshit. Every restaurant needs Rock Stars.
- Utilize your line ups! Go over one expectation every week that you will help bring everyone to the same level. E.g: “This week we are focusing on folding the napkins of guests who excuse themselves from the table.” Apply the repetition principal.
- Hold a week of evaluations. One on one’s. It will take your time, but it will be time well spent! Talking, heart to heart and one on one is powerful! You can give your praises, let your staff know the great things they do are noticed…and appreciated. You can also be direct in what they need to work on. You can also go over your list of future CONSISTENT RESPONSES, such as “those who are late without calling will XYZ, no call/no shows will be fired,” etc.
Once you feel that your team is on the same page, you are again on your way to running the restaurant of your dreams!
These principals take some time to create, but the effect is astounding. Sometimes it is hard to begin, but boy oh boy does it make for an easier tomorrow!
Jennifer, iamWaitress on Google+!
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