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November 27, 2018 6 Smart Steps for Handling Disgruntled Employees in Restaurants

conflict resolution in restaurants

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 handling disgruntled employees and conflicts in restaurants and bars, you’ll help everyone keep calm and carry on…

Handling Disgruntled Employees: How to Know Who’s Unhappy, Why it Matters

The key to handling disgruntled employees is to first recognize that they’re unhappy! Most of the time, a miserable employee is easy to spot. Their head is down, smiling is rare, and their attitude is either indifferent or even hostile.

Ensure you have at least one monthly meeting with each and every employee. Some staff members will hide their frustrations, but a good one-on-one chat might reveal that conflict is brewing.

Handling disgruntled employees is easier the sooner you realize they’re in a funk or upset. This is critical, not only to staff retention but to your bottom line. As a recent study shows, happy employees are 12% more productive than unhappy employees.

Plus, angry or dissatisfied team members are more likely to start conflict: with you, your customers, and most often – other team members.

5 Tips for Handling Disgruntled Employees and Preventing Full Blown Conflicts

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Here’s another food-related saying that rings true when it comes to dealing with unhappy employees and workplace conflicts! Focus on these steps for handling disgruntled employees, before things escalate…

  1. Get your managers on board: Every restaurant should have a plan for handling disgruntled employees through conflict resolution. Review the steps for 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 as they’re handling disgruntled employees.
  2. Address issues 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 handling disgruntled employees can usually stop issues from growing larger, which requires immediate conflict resolution.
  3. Watch and listen first: Sometimes handling disgruntled employees means taking a “hands off” approach at first. If you start to hear the tell-tale tones of an argument arising between staff, listen before involving yourself. Some conflict resolution in restaurants can occur without managerial interference. Take note of the subject and tone of the discussion, then determine if you really need to be handling disgruntled employees – or if they can handle themselves.
  4. Have zero tolerance for harassment and discrimination:An employee may appear disgruntled because of a very serious issue: they are experiencing sexual harassment or racial discrimination. This topic is less about handling disgruntled employees and more about keeping everyone safe! Make it crystal clear to all staff members that this behavior will not be tolerated. Providing clear guidelines on what constitutes unacceptable behavior is essential. In fact, one business consultant believes lack of clarity is the number one cause of workplace conflict. You must protect your employees and provide a safe work environment: this starts by clearly defining what is – and isn’t – tolerated.
  5. Follow through with discipline:Be sure your team is aware of the punishments in place for violating your guidelines and be strict with enforcement. Part of handling disgruntled employees is ensuring they have a healthy fear of consequences for poor choices.

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6 Steps For Handling Disgruntled Employees In Restaurants

  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 handling disgruntled employees is getting them into a private area, away from customers.
  2. Evaluate the situation: The second step for handling disgruntled employees and conflict resolution in restaurants is getting to the bottom of the issue. Is the problem professional? Let the employee know it will be resolved by the end of the shift. If the issue is personal? Emphasize that outside problems should not interfere with work. However, handling disgruntled employees requires compassion. You don’t have to be harsh, just firm and positive. If the employee is really angry or upset, suggest that they go home and return the next day to discuss the issue.
  3. Be fair: Another key tactic in handling disgruntled employees is to give them a chance to explain their viewpoint. This is essential if the conflict is between two employees. Each one must share their side of the story, and you should validate why each employee is feeling upset. Being neutral can go a long way in conflict resolution in restaurants – especially for managers. It’s also a good idea for another manager to be present when speaking with employees to ensure an accurate understanding.
  4. Find a solution: This is probably the most difficult part of handling disgruntled employees and conflict resolution in restaurants – identifying a solution that makes everyone happy. Do your best to reach a fair compromise that addresses the discussed issues. Always put the solution in writing to avoid future arguments, and to be clear about expectations.
  5. Remember the customer: Handling disgruntled employees may also require addressing customers if they witnessed an altercation or argument. Apologize and explain that this behavior is not the norm for your business. Offer a free round of drinks or an appetizer and sincerely apologize one more time!
  6. Follow up: Reaching a solution one day does not mean that the issue is resolved for good. Handling disgruntled employees is an ongoing process. Touch base with the employees involved every few days to see how they are doing. Showing concern even weeks after a conflict can prevent the issue from recurring.

How to Create a Positive Work Environment

The best thing you can do is reduce the need for handling disgruntled employees. Be proactive. Start by reviewing these effective 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. Handling disgruntled employees 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.

Handling disgruntled employees 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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