After a long – a very log winter – restaurant employees need a break. In their minds, they have been underworked, instead of overworked, which adds more stress to their lives. Plus, the ramifications of that predicament are apparent in many cases as attitudes tend to whither, smiles turn into frowns and the least demanding customers fall into the “customer from hell” category.
“Winter is a disease,” said French poet Alfred De Moussett. And, many can identify with the symptoms. In more recent times the depression that sets in is referred to as Cabin Fever. It becomes noticeable in everyone we encounter: customers, employees, family members and even upbeat friends may seem down. Recent studies show that over 25 percent of the population living in the mid to high latitudes, suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder more commonly referred to as Cabin Fever or SAD.
SAD triggers depression due to winter. This prompts inactivity, weight gain, social withdrawal and possibly sleep disturbance. All of these can be diagnosed as the winter blues and cabin fever. This pretty much defines everyone who works for us or comes in to eat. Add the fact that most of us succumb to the symptoms of lack of sunshine, add the slow, albeit slightly encouraging economy and it may be the perfect time for a team perk-up.
If we had all chosen corporate finance, hedge fund or portfolio management rather than the simple complications of culinary public service we could load our employees on the corporate jet and offer to host an attitude adjustment weekend in the
I realize this may seem bizarre. It may seem ridiculous. But it works.
Bowling is a tremendous way to bring your staff together, and reunite them, boost their attitudes, alleviate aggression and stress while simultaneously bringing to light the often forgotten fact that the owners care about the employees.
Restaurateurs constantly deal with the imaginary line that divides the kitchen staff from the dining room staff. The hierarchy of the kitchen team, many wearing their skills on the chef’s coats, conflicts with the employees in the dining room. Off premise team building will help resolve any conflicts and personality clashes that develop over time.
I was never a huge bowling fan. Having Italian grandparents I did endure more than a few Saturday afternoon T.V. tournaments while at their home, but I never sought a multi colored shirt with my name on it.
But then I opened a restaurant in
Snow day bowling is what teased me into realizing it was a great sport to help build a team. There are a few tricks that you need to adhere to in order to make it a successful experience.
Here they are:
1). Schedule the event at least two weeks out so your staff can plan on attending.
2). Do not make it mandatory – if you do you will have to pay the staff. However, strong encouragement does help. Unless an emergency arises you will know who the company team players are by watching who doesn’t show up.
3). Make sure everyone knows this is not really about bowling. More about team building.
4). The company pays for the gig. Shoes, beer, burgers and whatever else the bowling alley offers.
5). Choose teams ahead of time and make sure that it isn’t kitchen vs. dining room. Mix the teams so employees get to know each other out of work.
6). Mandatory- nobody can discuss work or problems. Of course gossip will flourish, that’s acceptable.
7). Play three games. This will take about two hours. The perfect time to bond.
8). Bowling alleviates aggression. I secretly looked at the pins and saw faces. Some customers’, some employees- ex employees, of course, and an occasional vendor, banker and lawyer.
9). Take everyone to the Bowling Alley Bar after the game for one final-final on the company. It will get encourage conversation focusing on work, the company and the owners. Quietly leave after the final-final, Say goodbye and let them know the rest of the night they are on their own.
10). Try to hold a similar event every six weeks or so, you will see an increased performance and compatibility with your staff.