The technical skills required in a restaurant are extremely important – and without them, it’s nearly impossible for your staff to operate within the structure outlined by the company. It’s these skills that allow an employee to efficiently carry out the procedure designed by your organization as part of your brand – “The (Your Restaurant Here) Way.”
On the other side of the coin, you have soft skills, which make up a completely different set of attributes that might be a little more difficult to teach, but are also vitally important. Soft skills entail more of the things people have learned from real-life experiences and interactions with other people and situations.
Soft skills might barely be mentioned in your restaurant’s training program and may not even be covered at all. However, they play a huge role in assisting your staff in adapting to certain roles and situations and even making learning technical skills easier. If you plan on implementing soft skills training (strongly recommended), it’s best to start with management first.
Why Is It Important to Train Managers and Employees on Soft Skills?
An efficient leader should be instrumental in the success of the organization they manage. Every leader or manager is different, and depending on the role they’re filling, they may require a specific set of soft skills and traits. Some managers might naturally possess these skills as part of their personalities, while others have learned them through years of hands-on experience and time around others who possess them.
Working close with someone who is especially adept at a certain set of soft skills allows you to learn almost by osmosis. If you’re aware enough and identify that individual’s knack for things like communication, leadership, and other traits, you’ll eventually begin exercising the use of these soft skills on autopilot.
This is why it’s vital for management to hone or sharpen these particular skills before employees. If your staff already looks to a particular manager as a mentor, it becomes an automatic lead-by-example situation as your team learns from emulating leadership. By default, soft skills manifest the following for your company:
- Your restaurant becomes more efficient and runs “organically” as a cohesive unit.
- Your company culture receives a significant improvement as the environment becomes more positive and conducive to a team environment.
- Your customers enjoy a more authentic experience from the boost in service and pleasant experience each time they frequent your restaurant.
- Your staff will also learn to apply these soft skills outside of work, bringing additional benefits to their personal lives and helping them foster new relationships elsewhere.
Certain soft skills have a special place within the restaurant company culture. What specific disciplines should you focus on to benefit your employees and the company?
The Most Important Soft Skills to Incorporate Into Your Restaurant Training
The following soft skills yield the most benefit within the structure of most restaurants and hospitality organizations.
A restaurant is a fast-paced environment. To run properly, clear communication is required between management and staff, between different positions of your staff (chef and server), and between servers and customers. If instructions and questions are relayed directly and with as little unnecessary filler, this promotes a faster, more responsive system and better customer experience.
Nobody can expect to bark orders all day and make any headway with their coworkers and even customers. One of the most important soft skills in any restaurant is the ability to listen. And this doesn’t mean your ability to hear at lower levels. This means being aware to slow down, listen, and process what someone is telling you. Just because you hear someone doesn’t mean you’re listening to them.
Attention to Detail
The customer experience is in the details. Sometimes orders can be very precise, and you need to be a master at the most minute details. In addition, when it’s time to clean or set the restaurant up for a shift, minor details will make or break your system and a customer’s view and initial opinion of your restaurant.
Adaptability and Flexibility
Ask any hospitality or restaurant worker, and they’ll tell you how unpredictable the food business is. If you have the power to adapt and remain flexible, you put yourself ahead of the game and add to your value as an employee.
Managing Stress and Pressure
Any restaurant setting is high pressure, and many people buckle under the weight of the stress. Learning to manage these feelings properly can turn you into a clutch performer – the exact personality needed to manage sudden rushes of customers and your busiest nights.
A positive attitude is vital when you’re in an environment that can produce any pitfalls at any time. Maintaining your positivity gives you the strength to power through adversity and maintains a light environment for your customers.
If you’re not approachable, it’s difficult to make it – especially as a part of the wait staff. Nobody wants to interact with someone who is generally stand-offish and just cold. A restaurant is about interacting and having a good time; nobody wants a buzzkill.
Good old-fashioned work ethic. It’s the cornerstone of any good worker in any industry. A proper work ethic will carry you a long way and garners significant respect from staff and customers.
Because of the high-pressure situations manifested in a restaurant, many situations come to a head. It’s important that you’re able to resolve conflict and prevent any volatile situation in the kitchen or on the floor with a coworker or customer.
Teamwork, Collaboration, and Trust
When you have an affinity for collaboration and trust, you can truly reap the benefits of being a talented team member. These soft skills allow you to place important tasks in the hands of your peers, allowing them to take a more instrumental role when you can’t, or aren’t as efficient in a certain area. Think of this rule as a basketball player passing the ball to his teammate for a shot they have a better chance of making.
It’s important that you always carry yourself with a certain degree of professionalism. Speak clearly and directly, keep things within the confines of business, and perform your dedication and sincerity
Time management is an important soft skill for anybody; however, it’s considered mandatory for most mast managers. Management must juggle multiple tasks at once and is responsible for the schedule. Finding the right balance and knowing which duties take precedence over others.
Sometimes time management doesn’t keep all duties at bay, and they overlap. In a restaurant, at some point, you WILL HAVE TO exercise some degree of multi-tasking. You will get a rush during certain shifts or on certain days, and you must know how to efficiently take on multiple tasks at once without sacrificing quality from any single task.
Improving Soft Skills Leads to Self- and Team- Confidence
Working on and becoming more confident by deploying any of these soft skills pays dividends for yourself and your team. When it comes to soft skills – confidence should always be the end game. Capturing the right amount of confidence builds belief in yourself, which spreads to other team members through synergy.
Reaching a point within your restaurant where there’s a natural transfer of positive energy and a constant atmosphere of trust, professionalism, and efficiency is a great indicator that soft skills are being exercised at all times and your team is aiming for improvement.
Additional Topics for Your Restaurant Training Program
Your restaurant training program will likely cover a wide range of topics, and can be implemented in just as many ways. Check out more of our training program resources to make the most of your restaurant training program:
- Restaurant Training Program: Why Standardized Training is Essential
- Creating a Restaurant Training Manual
- Methods for Training Employees in Restaurants: Pros, Cons, and Tools
- Restaurant Employee Onboarding: How-to and Common Topics
- Role-Specific Restaurant Training in Quick-Service and Fast Casual Restaurants
- Continuing Restaurant Training After Onboarding
- Additional Training Topics for Restaurant Employees