Restaurant Leadership 101: How to Build an Effective Team

Want to know how to build more effective leadership in your restaurant? We’ve got 6 tips that will help you out!
Amanda Hamel

We’ve worked in the restaurant business for a while now, and it's never been easier to be a leader. Sure, there are still challenges—it takes more time and energy to run a restaurant these days than ever before—but the rewards are high. If you're thinking about becoming a restaurant owner, or even if you already own one but want to improve your leadership skills, read on for our advice on how to build more effective leadership in your restaurant:

1. Steer clear of "yes" people

It's important to hire people who are not afraid to speak their minds. If you have a good idea, but your employees don't agree with it, they should be able to tell you that and ask for input from others. It's also important to hire people who can challenge you and help improve your ideas.

Lastly, hiring someone who will tell you when they think something isn’t working out is also important because then there’s no question as long as someone is willing at least try out different approaches until one becomes a clear winner (or loser).

2. Seek out diverse perspectives

There's a reason why most successful companies hire for cultural fit: because it works. As a leader, you can choose to focus on finding the right person for the job—or you can turn your focus toward building an inclusive culture that welcomes all types of perspectives. In other words, if you want your team to thrive over time (and not just perform well today), then they must reflect as wide a range of backgrounds as possible.

And if you want your team to be successful, then it’s important that everyone on the team feels like they have a voice. After all, different perspectives lead to better problem-solving, creative thinking, and innovative solutions.

3. Learn how to say “no”

This may seem like an obvious point, but it's one that many leaders miss. When you're in a position of authority and have a lot to do—whether that be managing employees or managing a restaurant's finances—you'll find yourself spending most of your time on things that don't matter. You won't have time for the projects that will bring you closer to your goals, and they'll also distract from other important tasks like hiring new staff members or training existing team members.

Don't get caught up in what everyone else is doing either; know yourself well enough not only where you are today but also where you want/need/should be tomorrow so those decisions aren't made without thinking them through first!

4. Hire for soft skills first

Soft skills are important in any business, but hard skills can be just as critical. You need to hire people who have both types of skills if you want your restaurant to be successful.

Soft skills are those things that make up the personality of an employee—for example, communication and problem-solving abilities. Hard skills include technical knowledge and experience (such as cooking). How do you find the right balance between soft and hard? Look for candidates who have both kinds of experience; if they don't have much experience in one area but plenty in another area, then they may not be ready to take on leadership responsibilities yet!

5. Encourage innovation and calculated risk-taking

Innovation is a critical piece of the restaurant business, so you must encourage innovation from your employees. Innovation can come from anywhere: a new concept, menu item, or recipe; an idea for improving customer service; or even something as simple as an employee who decides to take their lunch break at the end of their shift rather than rushing back into work.

When promoting innovation and calculated risk-taking within your organization, be careful not to oversell what might seem like a big win at first glance (e.g., "Let's try this new thing!") because sometimes small wins turn into giant leaps forward over time.

6. Don't take yourself too seriously

If you're a leader, it's important to remember that not everyone will take your humor the way you do. Some people are naturally more vocal and self-effacing than others, but those who don't have the same sense of humor can be frustrating to work with; they might become annoyed at being made fun of or even get defensive in response.

This is why it's so important for leaders to build rapport with their staff. If there's one thing that makes a good leader, it's knowing how to make everyone around them feel comfortable and trusting enough with each other so that no one gets hurt.

If you’re a restaurant manager, you may feel that the future of your business is riding on your ability to make effective leadership decisions. But you can do some easy things to ensure your success: steer clear of “yes” people, be open to diverse perspectives, and encourage innovation and calculated risk-taking. By applying these tactics when it comes time for hiring or firing employees, you can build a culture where everyone benefits from the company’s success!