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Human Relations fictional scenarios: Restaurant

Updated on June 15, 2015

The Situation

Sarah is a manager at a restaurant that has recently been bought by new owners. The new owners have worked with Sarah to illustrate how they want the customers to be treated. Sarah has shared the message with the wait staff, but they do not seem to be getting the message as they intended it. Some are giving bad service while others are giving good service, but spending too much time at some tables and neglecting other tables. The owners are getting frustrated with Sarah with her inability to change the behavior of the servers while customers are frustrated with the inconsistent service and the wait staff are frustrated with the lower than average tips. Sarah has been given a final chance to turn the behavior of the wait staff around. She has scheduled a full day work shop for the wait staff that she will deliver.

What to do?

After reviewing module three and the results of your communication and problem solving skills assessment, describe how you would design and construct the workshop for the wait staff.

My Solution

After reading the textbook, reviewing the results of my communication and problem solving skills self-assessments, and considering the situation, I feel that the best way to handle the workshop is to seek outside help. My communication self-assessment, score of 40, taught me that I am a capable communicator, but I still have room for improvement. While my problem solving skill self-assessment, score of 59, taught me that I am a confident problem solver; it also showed me that I lack the skills needed to find all the facts and to sell the idea. When my ISFJ personality, which leads me to prefer introversion over extroversion, is also added to the equation, I feel that if I was Sarah I might not be the best person to get through to my wait staff.

If I was Sarah, I would contact successful restaurants in the area and see if any of their managers or successful waiters and/or waitresses might be willing to come speak to my staff as a guest speaker. My hope with this idea is that my wait staff might benefit more from hearing about how they should act from someone who does the same job they do. Prior to the workshop I would hire several mystery diners to come to the restaurant and evaluate the service; I would then have the mystery diners speak to the wait staff about the service they received and how that influenced the way that they tipped. The idea behind this is that it may be helpful for the wait staff to hear about their performance from a completely unbiased source. My final idea would be to see if the owners might be amendable to installing a few cameras in the restaurant to monitor the wait staff. During the workshop I would begin by passing out an agenda of the workshop, a copy of the rules that all employees should follow, and a list of guidelines for employees on about how much time they should be spending on each task. After passing out the papers I would have the guest speakers that I recruited from other restaurants come in to speak to my wait staff. Then I would bring in the mystery diners to talk about their experiences at the restaurant, their evaluation, why they tipped the way that they did, and what they feel should be improved along with any suggestions on how to improve it. If I received approval from the owners to install cameras then I would tell my wait staff about how we now have cameras installed for staff monitoring and evaluation. I would conclude the workshop with a PowerPoint presentation on good wait staff behavior that would go over rules and guidelines that the staff should be following for customer interaction. I would then end by mentioning that if anyone requires help or has question that my door is always open.

Do you agree with this solution?

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The Next Situation

Now that Sarah has delivered the workshop and the wait staff seem to be on board with the new style of service, Sarah’s next challenge is to create a management and leadership plan for her group that not only ensure that they deliver consistent service, but that they also work towards becoming a team.

What to do?

Using the results that you achieved on your management, leadership, and team self-assessments briefly describe how you would manage and lead Sarah’s group towards becoming a team while consistently providing excellent service.

My Solution

If I was Sarah I would first consider my own strengths and weaknesses in the categories of team effectiveness, leadership, and management skills. I scored a 56 on the team effectiveness self-assessment which means that I am a solid team member and that I am a part of an effective team. I scored a 56 on the leadership self-assessment, meaning that I am well on my way to becoming a good leader. I scored a 47 on the management skills self-assessment which indicates that I am on my way to becoming a good manager, but that I still have a lot of learning left to do. Knowing this about myself I would first seek out the advice of successful restaurant managers with regards to how they manage their wait staff as a team while still consistently providing excellent service. Next I would create a questionnaire for the wait staff on how they would like to be managed as a team as well as any ideas they have on how to improve the inner workings of our group. I feel that this would be an excellent way to make the staff feel invested in the team as it would make them feel like they were helping to shape our group into a team. I would also set up weekly meetings that would allow the wait staff and me to touch base on how everything is going and what improvements could be made. My idea with the weekly meetings is it would give the staff a set time to voice their suggestions and for me to catch and correct negative behaviors before they become a habit.

In order to get my group to act together as a team I would host team building events on alternating months. For these events I would split my staff into two or three groups; I would make certain to group my staff with people they don’t normally work with as this would cause my staff to develop connections with more of their team mates. One example of a team building event I would host would be the newspaper bridge. The goal would be for each team to create a bridge that could hold a gallon of water using only newspaper and tape; the first team to do it successfully would get a prize. I would also setup some cross training so that all of my staff could come to appreciate each other’s jobs and be able to fill in for other employees more easily in case of an unexpected absence. For instance I would cross train some of my wait staff in the kitchen and some of my kitchen staff in wait staff positions. This would help the two groups to understand each other’s responsibilities and lead to a more cohesive relationship between the two. Lastly I would create team work incentives that would encourage my staff to work together as a team instead of just as individuals.

Have you ever been in a situation like this?

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