Four Easy and Affordable Ways to Manage a Diverse Team

Published: May 21, 2020  

So, you’re here because you’re interested in ways you can manage a diverse work team. In this post, you’ll learn different techniques to effectively manage several different front-of-house and back-of-house restaurant teams. When the time came to leave a position, I’d hear complaints of how boring work would be now or concerns of who was going to be their new favorite manager (it couldn’t be Erica, she’s so blah!). And while I was working, I noticed my staff’s attitude changed when I took over the floor. My staff would look relieved when I came in and would express how happy they get when they see my name as the MOD. Oh, and the best part? My staff gave better service when I was there. My boss said he trusted me on the floor more than a senior manager. That’s because he knew I implemented strategies that kept my staff and guests in pleasant moods.

Does this sound like your type of shift? I’m about to tell you how I managed a diverse team into executing fun, productive, money-making shifts.

Yes, this article is geared toward my rockin’ food and beverage industry people, but that industry has so many transferable skills that these strategies could work in any work setting.

1. Adapt your style to accommodate each person.

You might have your own personal management style but also have a diverse team. No two people want to be managed the same way. This fact is hugely underestimated but paramount for a manager to remember. 

The way you manage Adam will not be the same way you manage Brittany. And Brittany won’t be the same as Terry. Adam is flamboyant and loud; he has a big personality. You can give Adam direct feedback during the shift and it doesn’t faze him. But Brittany, sweet Brittany. She is docile and gentle. Remember during a rush when you told her to not leave the ice scoop in the ice? Oh yeah, you do. You also remember her having a panic attack in the walk-in cooler 30 seconds after you called her out in front of everyone. 

You didn’t mean any harm; that’s just the way you are—blunt and straight to the point. And those management books say you should reprimand as soon as possible after the undesirable action occurs. But you’ll get way more zeal and industriousness from your staff members if you change your style to meet their needs. Pull Brittany aside later in a “safe zone,” such as behind the bar or while she’s polishing silver,  and let her know what’s going on. And probably don’t do this in the office unless you really want her crying.

Consider using a survey to learn how your staff members like to be reprimanded and praised, what their motivations are, etc. Big companies like Marriott do this and it works. 

So remember, you’ll be a better manager if you tailor your style of management to each staff member’s needs.

2. Get to know them and don’t be afraid to have fun with them.

Another strategy you could implement is simple. Wait for it … you could … get to know them! Whoa! Weird, dude, but I really mean it. Actually get to know them. I don’t mean go out drinking with them in Boystown (do that after you’re not their boss). Here’s what I mean.

My old boss asked me who our best morning server was. I gawked, cause obviously it was Alfredo. When I answered he said, “What’s Alfredo’s daughter’s name?” Silence. He explained to me that our employees often spend more time here than at their homes. The least we could do was get to know who they did spend their time with at home.

 If I were in therapy this would be my aha moment. So get to know your staff!

Does one of your staff members mention her boyfriend a lot? Ask what his name is or what they do when they’re both off. Did your dish guy call off because his aunt has been sick? Ask about her later on! Follow up every now and again. 

If you didn’t survey your staff to find out how they liked to be praised or reprimanded, ask them! This counts as getting to know them. Maybe they like big shout-outs during stand-up; just ask to find out. 

One of my servers, Justin, was in a same-sex relationship but never brought it up. One day I was helping the servers break down after a long night and he mentioned his boyfriend. This is big when someone does this in front of you, especially when you’re his boss! He was comfortable enough to let me know he had a boyfriend and he wanted to talk about that with me. So we did just that. Ever since he knew I didn’t care about his sexuality, he turned into a different server. He was HIMSELF, and my guests loved it! He’d sing Beyoncé during brunch and knew that I encouraged him to express who he was while he was at work. He made more tips, had more fun, and liked coming into work. Plus, my guests bought more liquor, and I laughed my ass off! We had fun. He also had tons of great Yelp mentions.

3. Let them do what you hired them to do! But finesse the art of stepping in at the right time.

I’m going to blow your mind again. Adding to our list of ways to manage a diverse team is to let them do their jobs! Crazy stuff here. If Adam is super good at breaking down the well, while sweet Brittany gets the old guys at the bar to cash out, let them do what they’re best at. You hired them to do a job and it’s your job as a leader to put people where they excel. A quality leader knows when to let others do their jobs.

One host of mine used to love to create documents. I let him create checklists for side-work and he loved that he could claim them as his own when he trained new staff. 

Bringing us to the next point, finesse the art of stepping in at the right time. This one is tough. Some managers help too much and some help not at all (and play Candy Crush at the host stand). Knowing when to step in is key. One of the best chefs I ever worked for, Chef Clay Miller, taught me that it’s important to know when to help. Take those 15 minutes after the rush to help them clear the dining room. Grab ice for the bartender if they’ve already got guests at their bar before the expected happy hour rush.

But don’t do their jobs for them. If you do, your staff will wonder why you even hired them. That’s also when you’ll see a decrease in productivity. It’s an art to know when. And you’ll usually see it on the guests’ faces and your staffs’ faces when it’s the right time.

4. Recognize a job well done. Conversely, coach when a staff member underperforms.

We’ve all had bosses that seem to tell us what’s up only when we’ve done a bad job. Well what about when you worked your tail off for her for a week straight and she never mentioned it? It’s annoying, right?

Among the easier ways to manage diverse team members is to praise them when they’ve done a good job. Perhaps they did a side project for you, or came in early. If one of them mentioned her obsession with matcha lattés while you were getting to know her, get her a latté or a gift card if she did something above and beyond such as clearing out the dish drain because Adam got cut early and left that task for everyone else to do.

And when Adam comes in for his next shift, don’t forget to coach him. Recognizing a job well done is great but you still need to coach when a staff member underperforms. Discuss with him what he did wrong and how you’d like it to look next time. Most workers want to do a good job even if they occasionally underperform, and as their leader it’s up to you to coach and guide them to identify what a good job looks like. 

Implementing these mindsets or strategies when you’re looking for ways to manage a diverse work team should bring you awesome results. Your staff may be more productive, for example, and you have less work to do because Brittany knows how to create your draft Office Depot order and is willing to take it on to build her résumé. Your work environment will definitely be more fun. But keep an eye on your staff’s turnover. Is that a decrease in turnover I see coming? Interesting.

To sum it up, here are the strategies to manage a diverse team that are easy and affordable: 

  • Change your management style to accommodate each team member.
  • Actually get to know them.
  • Let them do their jobs.
  • Recognize good jobs and coach when needed.

Thanks for reading and remember to have fun! 

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