How to Stay Sane During the Holidays


No matter what Charles Dickens may have led us to believe, Scrooge was not a banker. No, he worked in a restaurant and Tiny Tim was at Table Four spilling his drink and fighting with his brother. Well, maybe not, but that would definitely explain why Scrooge was such a, well, Scrooge. The holiday season has its share of challenges for restaurant managers everywhere. With the busy season right around the corner, here are a few tips on how to make it go a little smoother:

  • Hire a floater or two. You don’t need an experienced server… just a temporary worker who would like to earn a little extra money during the holiday season. The person doesn’t need to be fully trained or even work directly with your customers. Hire the person to go where he or she is needed, carry trays, bus the tables, fill up waters or help in the kitchen. There are all sorts of small jobs that cause big problems because no one has time to do them. Consider a group interview to speed up the hiring process.
  • Schedule well. Ask if any team members would like to volunteer to be “on-call.” Then, if you get busy, the team member will come at the ring of a cell phone. Pay on-call volunteers a small amount of cash and pay them if they’re not called into work. Up the ante for employees who are willing to cross-train and be available to fill in wherever they’re needed.
  • Show your gratitude. Being a grateful leader goes beyond just a “thank you” in passing. Your team is working harder than ever and many of them aren’t being compensated by tips. Make sure that each person who leaves your operation – including your team members – knows how much you value them during the holiday season and beyond. Remember, your employees are your internal customers. How you treat them determines how they’ll treat your guests.
  • Don’t skimp on rewards. Everyone needs rewards this time of year, and there’s no better time for sales contests. Think outside the box. Offer high-selling employees rewards such as a paid day off after the new year, cash, schedule preferences and holiday-themed items. Incorporate what you can into your restaurant teamwork strategy.
  • Nip conflict in the bud. Being busy and stressed can lead to quick tempers among your team members. It’s always important for restaurant managers to take a proactive approach to conflict management, and that’s never more true than it is during the holiday season. 

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