Mocopan’s Jared Chapman on building a united team environment

Seeing the same smiling faces in a café daily is something that keeps customers coming back day after day for their morning brew.

In the last edition of BeanScene I wrote about how to find the right people through a strong recruitment and training process. This time I will be exploring how to ensure your staff continue enjoy their job, and therefore hopefully stay with your business for longer. Keeping good staff happy is not only going to mean they will enjoy working more, and therefore give your customers a better experience, but will also mean you spend less time and money hiring and training new staff. Remember, every time you need to hire someone, this means paying for advertising, spending time interviewing, doing paperwork, and training.

One of the first pieces of advice I give people when it comes to making work enjoyable for your staff while still getting the work done is to create a relaxed environment. I don’t mean put a couch behind the counter so the barista can take naps throughout their shift. The most important thing is that staff are encouraged to have fun and are spoken to with respect. Things will inevitably go wrong in the hospitality world, whether it is an incorrect order being sent out or staff calling in sick, but these are the times you rely on your staff most, so try not to let the stress get to you and them while at work. Instead, set aside some time after it’s over to reflect with them on how the team could have done things differently. This also helps them feel like their efforts are appreciated and their opinions valued.

Which leads me to my next point – recognition. People who work hard like it when others notice their passion and skill. It means even more if it is coming from their boss. There are many forms recognition can take, from a simple thanks for a job well done to a more material incentive such as a pay increase or a gift. Giving simple verbal recognition to the team should be a daily habit to help drive a positive culture. Team outings are also a great way to reward the whole team if they are doing a good job. This doesn’t have to be expensive either – putting on a barbeque with a couple of drinks will do the trick.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t let people know about things they could be doing better. In fact, quite the opposite. Staff generally appreciate constructive feedback to help them get better at their job, as long as it is delivered in the right way. It will also help build respect if you are honest about opportunities and give your staff a chance to improve, rather than getting frustrated if they aren’t meeting standards or doing things the right way. You should aim to set aside some time on a regular basis to provide this feedback, even if it is only five minutes over a monthly coffee.

Following feedback is training. The first part to this is ongoing training on everyday skills. This is especially important if you have trained someone from scratch to be sure they aren’t developing bad habits and continue to improve their skills. Ongoing training is one of the most important factors in producing excellent staff.

The second part to training is to ensure that staff who have been around a while have the opportunity to learn something new. This keeps their job interesting and fresh, and stops them from becoming bored or disinterested. This can be something as simple as challenging them to pour a new latte art design, or something more in-depth like learning how to do the food order for the week. This will largely be determined by what that person is interested in learning, as well as how much they want their knowledge to be stretched.

Lastly, and possible most importantly, is to develop a strong team culture. Get the team involved and make them feel like they are an important part of the business (which they obviously are!). Have regular meetings to discuss what your goals are, and get the team’s input on what they think the direction of the business should be. This makes them feel valued and gives them a sense that they are all working together towards a common goal.

Even though they may not have the final say in any changes that are made, be sure to incorporate some of their ideas into your plans and let them know why other proposals may not have been included. Once you have set these goals, you should keep the team in the loop on how you are progressing as often as possible. You can also use this to set targets for recognition, for example if you sell a certain number of coffees in a month, the team gets to vote on an outing to a certain value.

While thinking about all of these activities can seem like a lot of work and may cost a little bit of money, the time and money you will save by having an engaged team working together in the same direction and lower turnover will all be worth it.

Most importantly, it will ensure that your customers can see that your team is passionate and having fun, and are always served with a smile.