How to give your team a winning pep talk to start a new day or shift

Editorial Team

5 min read
Group discussion

  1. Make it snappy.
  2. Set realistic goals.
  3. Troubleshoot problems and share ideas.
  4. Ask people to contribute.
  5. Listen well.
  6. Give targeted praise.

Need a simple way to help staff feel valued and motivated to do their best? Try a quick team meeting every day. Done right, meetings can boost performance and morale—especially important with turnover at a 10-year high.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 27 percent of employees quit their jobs in 2018. The hospitality industry faces the highest turnover rate, at almost 32 percent. Encouraging employees to stay is far cheaper than replacing people who have bolted.

Daily meetings can keep the team enthusiastic and in the loop. Here are six rules to get you started.

1. Make it snappy.

With a small business to run, sitting around a conference table with bagels and coffee is an impossible dream. People have shifts to get to and tasks to complete.

That means meetings need to run 15 minutes or less, hitting key points and infusing energy into the team. And here’s the catch: Short meetings can actually be harder to run than longer ones.

Come prepared. Most leaders need to write down notes, practice their delivery, and learn to become attuned to the audience. Commit to gathering the team each day and your skills and spontaneity will steadily grow.

2. Set realistic goals.

Everyone wants more customers, better reviews, and bigger profits. But if you throw a lot of lofty goals at the staff, you probably won’t reach them. To get results, the staff needs reasonable goals and a roadmap for reaching them through incremental steps.

Use daily gatherings to focus the team on small goals. Follow up with feedback on how they’re doing and what needs work. Be sure to link all the small changes into the larger picture of how the business is faring—and celebrate each success on the path to excellence.

3. Troubleshoot problems and share ideas.

Doing anything well requires constant evaluation and improvement. Use quick daily meetings to talk about issues and ideas. Are the lines too long? Are customers asking for products you don’t carry? Are special orders coming out of the kitchen too slowly?

Use meetings to gather observations from the staff, roll out better procedures, and introduce new products. You can also use them to brainstorm new specials. For inspiration, check out Clover’s monthly promotions calendar for amusing, off-the-radar holidays.

By keeping employees informed, you let them know they’re valued members of the team. By gathering their input and tapping their ideas, they know you appreciate their professionalism.

4. Ask people to contribute.

As the boss, you set the direction and the tone. But remember, your people are on the frontlines turning that vision into reality. Even the newest hire might have insights to share, while seasoned employees can be reservoirs of knowledge.

Call on people to share their ideas, even the quiet ones on the team. Has the bartender introduced a new cocktail? Ask her to tell everyone how it’s made and what selling points the table staff might use. Do you have an employee who consistently moves more merchandise? Enlist his help in explaining how he does it.

Business owners might even bring in guest speakers to talk about their areas of expertise—analyzing sales data, social media marketing, customer service pro tips, or more. A fresh outside perspective can liven up the meeting.

5. Listen well.

While it’s your job to lead meetings, you don’t want to be the only voice in the room. Instead, listening effectively lets others be heard, promoting them to feel more deeply connected to the business.

So what does listening well really mean? According to a recent survey, the best listeners aren’t just silent. They ask questions that open up a two-way dialogue. Active listening also involves letting the speaker know they’re supported and providing positive feedback.

Of course, leaders shouldn’t let the meeting veer off-topic or become a free-for-all. But even thought tangents or complaints can be channeled in productive directions. Sum up what you’re hearing, focus the team on the day’s agenda, and revisit contentious topics the following day, offering potential solutions.

6. Give targeted praise.

Burnout is a big problem today, with many hourly employees working irregular shifts, taking classes, caring for families, and commuting long distances. People often feel overburdened and underappreciated.

Shower them with praise. For the best results, keep it focused on actual performance. Does an employee always greet customers promptly? Did she do a great job tidying up the stockroom or increasing ticket orders? Let people know you notice and appreciate good work.

In fact, praising employees in a public forum, pointing out their actions and strengths, is far more motivating than doling out vague compliments.

By making short meetings a daily habit, business owners let employees understand what’s happening and what’s expected. More importantly, they create a venue for sharing ideas and expertise, and letting employees know they matter.

With replacement costs equaling 20 percent of a worker’s annual salary, bringing people inside the fold is the best way to keep them there.


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