Teamwork is essential in the events industry, but it’s especially important in the catering world. After all, there’s a whole saying about having too many cooks in the kitchen. Ensuring that your staff remains motivated and committed to the job at hand is the key to a cohesive work environment and, in turn, a team that is driven toward success.
Let’s take a look at what the experts have to say about motivating a bustling staff in an ever-changing environment.
Implement healthy competition
Competition gets a bad rap, but there are many ways to instill it without letting it become toxic. In fact, a good dose of healthy competition can push employees to be the best versions of themselves. Consider internal cooking competitions on slow days to let the staff have some fun while also flexing their creative muscles.
“Competition can be healthy, especially when it pushes your team members to perform their best work,” says Meryl Snow of SnowStorm Solutions. “Consider providing incentives to encourage everyone to reach for the stars, whether it’s a monetary bonus or a paid day off.”
Adam Gooch of Common Plea Catering shares a similar strategy: “I started a competition in creating new menu items. Last competition was for the new spring and summer hors d’oeuvres. Set some guidelines for creating the items and let the team run with their ideas. It jumpstarted their creative side with healthy competition!”
He continues, “We had the event planners judge and awarded the top five. Those top five winners got a monetary award and their items on the new menu. They also worked the hors d’oeuvres station at the spring/summer wedding tasting so they could ‘show off’ their creations which created so much positive motivation throughout the culinary staff.”
Celebrate the little things
You don’t have to wait for the major wins to show your team that you appreciate them. Instead, learn to recognize your employees for reaching their smaller objectives and encourage them to keep striving for their big-picture goals.
“We celebrate small victories with the ringing of a bell,” shares Robin Selden of Marcia Selden Catering. “Each salesperson has a unique bell at their desk. When they close a deal and confirm an event, they ring their bell which creates excitement in the office and gets the team jazzed!”
Lon Lane of Lon Lane’s Inspired Occasions values the little moments, too: “Some days I tell the kitchen to stop what they are doing and give themselves a round of applause. It’s the little things like bringing in snacks for the day, circulating and thanking people for their work, and recognizing someone publicly for a job well done.”
Know your salespeople on a personal level
You need to understand what motivates each employee, then communicate to each in a way that appeals to their own needs. One employee may be driven by financial gain, whereas another could be motivated by praise and recognition. It also helps to know about who they are outside of the office, which can help you to motivate them on a more engaging level.
“Surprise your team, both as a group and individually with fun breaks,” encourages Alan Berg of Wedding Business Solutions, LLC. “As a group, it could be as simple as bringing in lunch or an ice cream break. Individually, it’s best to do things to show that you know what’s important to them and that you know them well. If they love their pet, a Petco gift card will go farther than a Starbucks card.”
Anthony Lambatos of Footer’s Catering also encourages employee engagement to increase motivation. “Walking around your building and talking to your team members may seem like a waste of time, but if you are intentional about getting to know them and asking for their feedback (especially some of your front-line people), it can be extremely valuable,” he says. “It’s a small thing you can do to show your team you care about them and value them.
At the end of the day, you want to focus on the company culture that you foster within your organization. If you have the right culture, you don’t have to do the small day-to-day things to keep employees going — however, it still helps.
A strong culture serves as a positive foundation from which to build motivation upon through fun surprises and special praise. Just remember that it never hurts to shake things up from time to time! If anything, it prevents employees from falling into a rut and keeps them on their toes.