The culture of a business doesn’t develop from platitudes on motivational posters or even from how the company vision is communicated to the public. It’s the sum of how the people within your organization interact and behave every day. Your business will have a culture no matter what you do, but it’s certain that the only way to achieve the culture you want—and which you publish in your vision statement—is to invest in training your staff.

The power-based business strategies of previous decades have largely given way to a servant style of leadership, and it’s a great match for many restaurants. But if a focused effort to develop that culture isn’t made, then the resulting “by accident” culture will likely be more self-focused, with everyone looking for their own interests—getting the best shifts, taking the best tables, getting picked for manager training, what have you.

You can turn the tide by implementing these principles in your leadership team in order to develop a servant-oriented team, across all levels of staff and management in your restaurant business.

Model Service

Telling staff to be servants without being one yourself will not only not get results, but it could create a rebellion. Your motives are everything, and if serving is the key value, then it’s one you should be living out both in the store and in your daily life by continually asking yourself how you can serve others.

Establish Trust

It’s time for a gut check: evaluate whether you are a trustworthy person, and whether you are willing to be trusting of others. Establishing and building trust tears down barriers and can transform how people work together.

Be Authentic

What do you value most? What are your non-negotiables? What beliefs do you hold truest that impact not just how you do business but how you live your life? Define your values and aim to live them out. Keep your word and your commitments. Honor and respect others regardless of position. Be willing to stand by tough decisions—even if unpopular—if they align with your values. And never stop learning, even from your experiences, your mistakes, and other people.

Listen First

When you listen to people, take time to truly hear them and understand. Let go of distractions and the common behavior of formulating your response while the other person is still speaking. Regularly encourage people to share more or help you to understand better what they are trying to convey.

Be an Encourager

These days, many people crave encouragement but rarely receive it. Highlight your employees’ strengths, give credit where it is due, and empower your staff to build into others as well.

Great culture doesn’t just happen on its own but must be cultivated through training and taking action. Develop a healthy servant culture in your restaurant business by being an example, modeling the culture, and building into your team with intentionality.

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