How operators can improve morale and turnover

We’ve all heard the refrain: “Employees leave bad bosses, not bad companies.”There’s a reason that the adage has become so ubiquitous—research has demonstrated time and again that it’s true. Dr. Travis Bradberry, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, cites one study where an astounding 61 percent of participants who said they had “bad bosses” were actively looking for a new job.

This distinction is particularly crucial in a restaurant environment, where volatile attrition rates can leave managers, GMs, and DOs squirming to fill vacancies on short notice, preventing the store from operating smoothly. Restaurant leadership should do everything in its power to stem the tide of crewmembers pushing their way out the door, and the easiest way to do that is by making the workplace environment more engaging. The more ideal the environment, the less tempting any other opportunity will be, and managers, like conductors, almost exclusively set the tone of the restaurant.

So, what distinguishes good bosses from bad bosses? It’s not quite as simple as being “well-liked.” The factors are numerous and impossible to boil down to a single score, but Bradberry recommends a few habits that elevate managerial performance and keep employees happy with the climate of the store.

1. Share Information

It’s an innate human need to know how you’re doing; yet frequently information on store performance is hoarded in the upper echelons of the corporate hierarchy, never trickling down to the employees who actually interact with customers. As Bradberry says, ”Some bosses seem to think that every piece of information they share reduces their power and authority. In fact, just the opposite is true: great bosses know that sharing information empowers their employees, instead of diluting their own power.” To make employees feel like part of the team—give them the data.

2. Celebrate Wins

Recognition is a crucial aspect of engagement, yet MomentSnap research indicates that 90 percent of managers don’t do it as much as they should. Promoting a celebratory outlook is a huge part of engagement. “Great bosses don’t have a ‘Why should I praise you for doing your job?’ attitude,” says Bradberry. “They look for reasons to praise their employees, both privately and publicly, and they take the time to celebrate milestones.” Expecting excellence doesn’t mean you shouldn’t celebrate it.

3. Say Thank You

Think recognition and thanks are the same thing? Think again. Bradberry’s analysis helps: “Bad bosses think the work their employees do is something the employees owe them. After all, they’re getting paychecks, right? That’s true—but great bosses look past work as a transactional relationship and realize that people are putting a huge part of themselves into the work they do.” Celebrating achievement is separate from acknowledging that employees pour a great deal of bandwidth into the job even just showing up.

4. Communicate Concisely

Vagueness and ambiguity are the enemy of productivity, but many managers assume that complex directions will be too much for their employees. Trust workers with what needs to be done, and do so with clarity. That means no passive aggression and no unspecific feedback. Bradberry advises that “great bosses say what they mean and mean what they say—and they say it clearly, so that people don’t have to read between the lines or try to guess their real meaning.”

Expert Takes, Feature