6 Smart Steps for Conflict Resolution in Restaurants

 In Restaurant

If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen. It’s no coincidence that this saying about high-pressure situations has its origins in food prep! When things get busy, tempers can heat up in the kitchen – and in the front of the house. With these tips for conflict resolution in restaurants and bars, you’ll help employees keep calm and carry on…

Why Conflict Resolution in Restaurants Matters

If you can help employees resolve conflict, you’ll contribute to employee happiness, which can benefit your bottom line. As a recent study shows, happy employees are 12% more productive than unhappy employees.
Arguments between employees will rise up – even when you use the conflict prevention tips at the end of this blog. The key is to empower yourself with a set of guidelines for conflict resolution in restaurants.

6 Steps For Conflict Resolution In Restaurants

It’s happened before – staff members erupting into arguments and insults over an unresolved issue. If you’re lucky, it takes place out of customer earshot, but that’s not always the case.
In order to combat employee altercations, your management team should be educated on conflict resolution in restaurants and apply that knowledge to your team. Here are the steps to take if an argument occurs on their watch:

  1. Take it somewhere private: Arguing in front of customers can give a bad impression of your restaurant. And if a manager tries to involve themselves while there’s an audience, it can escalate an already tense situation. The first step to conflict resolution in restaurants is herding the battling employees into a private area, away from customers.
  2. Evaluate the situation: Conflict resolution in restaurants starts with a thorough understanding of what is actually causing tension. Recognize that sometimes it can be an underlying issue, and may take some time to discuss what is really causing the argument. If the problem is professional, determine if the issue can be resolved by the end of the shift, or if the two employees will need to address it later.If the issue is personal, then you should emphasize that that outside problems should not be interfering with the workplace. Then, based on the employees’ responses, determine if they can continue working together or if one or both team members need to be sent home to cool off. Sometimes conflict resolution works better after everyone has a chance to blow off steam alone.
  3. Be fair: Allow each employee to give their point of view on what caused the issue. Remember that there doesn’t need to be a winner when it comes to conflict resolution in restaurants. You must validate why each employee is feeling upset. Being neutral can go a long way in conflict resolution in restaurants – especially for managers.Oftentimes, tension arises because team members feel they aren’t being heard. Try to be objective and avoid judging employees for their altercation. Ask another manager to be present when speaking with employees to ensure an accurate understanding of each testimony.
  4. Find a solution: This is probably the most difficult part of conflict resolution in restaurants – identifying a solution that makes everyone happy. Do your best to reach a fair compromise that addresses the discussed issues. It may also be a good idea to put the solution in writing to avoid future arguments.
  5. Remember the customer: Conflict resolution in restaurants doesn’t just apply to employees. If customers witnessed the argument, be sure to apologize and explain that this behavior is not the norm for your business. Let the customers know the situation is being handled and try to divert their attention onto something more positive, like an upcoming event or ongoing special. Offer a free round of drinks or an appetizer to pacify any guest who may have been upset or affected by the altercation.
  6. Follow up: Reaching a solution one day does not mean that the issue is resolved for good. Make sure to touch base with the employees involved at a later time to check how they are feeling and if they agree that the compromise still being honored. Showing concern even weeks after the argument can prevent the issue from recurring and is a positive step to conflict resolution.

5 Ways to Prevent Conflict

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Here’s another food-related saying that rings true when it comes to conflict resolution in restaurants! It’s important to focus on steps to prevent employee issues from escalating into full grown arguments in front of customers:

  1. Get your managers on board: Review the steps for conflict resolution in restaurants with your managers, and make sure they are aware of any processes in place to address staff issues. This way, your staff has a preset understanding of how to conduct themselves, rather than trying to wing it during an employee altercation.
  2. Address issues early on: Issues have a way of festering and turning into something bigger than they actually are. To avoid this, address conflicts early on. If an employee approaches management with a problem, particularly if it pertains to another team member, give the request the attention it needs. This approach to conflict resolution can usually stop issues from growing larger down the road.
  3. Watch and listen first: Pay attention when your employees are discussing an issue. If you start to hear the tell-tale tones of an argument arising, take moment to listen before involving yourself. Some conflict resolution in restaurants can occur without managerial interference. You may not need to involve yourself, which could possibly make the situation worse. Take note of the subject and tone of the discussion, then determine if it’s something that requires your attention.
  4. Have zero tolerance for harassment and discrimination: Some employee altercations stem from serious issues – like sexual harassment or racial discrimination – and it’s on you to let employees know that this behavior will not be tolerated. Providing clear guidelines on what constitutes unacceptable behavior can be an effective tool when establishing conflict resolution in restaurants. In fact, one business consultant believes lack of clarity is the number one cause of workplace conflict!
  5. Follow through with discipline: Be sure your team is aware of the punishments in place for violating these guidelines and be strict with their enforcement. Part of conflict resolution in restaurants involves a healthy fear of consequences for poor choices.

How to Create a Positive Work Environment

Establishing a harmonious environment can positively impact conflict resolution in restaurants. If you’re unsure about the happiness of your employees, you can always begin by reviewing ways to improve staff morale.

For example, it is common for tension to occur between the front and back of house. Encouraging communication between teams can help them understand the importance of each role. This garners a mutual respect for every position and can lead to fewer altercations in the future. Bring everyone together by hosting a team building event like a live trivia or poker night if you close one day a week.

Most importantly, lead by example. Conflict resolution in restaurants starts with the management team and trickles down to the staff. Your team will implement your behavior, so treat every staff member fairly and with respect. If an issue arises, deal with it promptly using the 6 tips for conflict resolution in restaurants. Then move on without dwelling on the outcome.

Conflict resolution may not be the most enjoyable part of the job, but it is necessary. Put these simple steps into play today to prevent conflict from escalating while improving team harmony.

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