How Managers Can Build Good Work Habits … Without Micromanaging

Jul 01 2014

Staff Training Restaurant Management

Good management is a delicate balance. You have to supervise your crew to lead them, but you can’t dictate their every action. Fortunately, there are ways you can harness the power of habit to train your employees, without becoming the sort of micromanager that causes team morale to take a nosedive.

Building good work habits is like making a sound stock investment; you put a small amount away regularly, and in time you get a noticeable return. And the beauty of habit is that, once it becomes established, it requires much less direct management on your part.

You can, of course, start building new habits with your current employees, but it’s best to begin earlier rather than later. Introducing a new hire to an established system is much easier than trying to introduce a new system to an established employee. Once you institute the behavior you want to encourage, you can spend much less time monitoring that aspect of service.


Let’s discuss three ways you can build good work habits in your team.

It’s All in the Details: Using Habit to Make a More Efficient Staff

First, you must create an initial investment of time in your employees. Once this becomes part of your standard operating procedure, a few spot checks per day should keep them going.

Here are three often underestimated ways to increase efficiency in your waitstaff by encouraging a good work ethic:

  1. Ask Realistic Questions to Help Servers Learn the Menu. Every day, ask a couple of your servers questions that a diner might ask about menu items: What’s in it? How would you describe it? What other recommendations might you make to someone interested in this dish? Do this to all your waitstaff in turn. This will help them learn the menu as well as improve their recommendation skills. (See the post Mastering the Art of the Menu Recommendations for more info on why this is important.)
  2. Inspire Attention to Detail. Before opening, look at the stations. Is everything complete – silverware shined, glasses spot-free, everything clean and in its place? If the answer is yes, praise that person. If it’s no, show them how to fix the problem, and encourage them to be more thorough. Knowing that you’ll be double-checking their work can motivate them to greater attention and fewer omissions.
  3. Show That Work Ethic Starts Small.Continue promoting attention to detail, but expand it. What about sidework, like folding napkins? During slow times, whoever isn’t actively working can pitch in and help out with these important minor tasks.

At Ctuit Software, we know how much time automating certain things can save you. Creating habits can do the same. Habits are not acquired in a day; how quickly a new behavior becomes automatic varies with each individual. But once good work routines are formed, productivity increases for both the manager and the waitstaff.

Rob D'Ambrosia

Rob D'Ambrosia

After recognizing that restaurant operators needed to leverage technology to serve their Business Intelligence requirements, Rob founded Ctuit Software in January 2000. From casual to fine dining concepts, Rob has experienced the full spectrum of front and back of house positions. He has installed POS systems and consulted for small and medium restaurant chains. Rob’s technology background is equally extensive having worked hands-on with computer systems and authoring both hospitality and IP telephony business applications.