Jennie Smith is what you might call a jack of all trades, master of most. Between managing at Proof restaurant in Des Moines and overseeing her heirloom tomato operation at Butcher Crick Farms, she has learned from experience how to lead with efficiency and effectiveness. Whether it's dinner rush or harvest season, she follows a few bulletproof guidelines for organizing and rallying a team when it really matters.
Simple, but timeless, here are Smith's best practices for managing her team:
1. Articulate What You Really Want
Don't assume your staff will just figure everything out, instruct them. If I tell someone to carry a tray in their left hand instead of their right in the middle of a shift, they are less likely to remember than if I tell them and show them right from the start, asking them, "Do you understand?" This saves so many steps later.
2. Hold a Pre-Shift Meeting
This gives everybody a chance to be on the same page. In the service industry, going into Friday night, I always have a pre-shift meeting. In just five minutes, I cover: "Here's what we're out of tonight. Here are some people coming in tonight who we should all be aware of. Let's go team."
3. Make Time For Questions
It's important to show everyone they have value. During the pre-shift meeting I ask, "Does anybody have any questions?" I also put a sign up in the back of the restaurant that says "You have a value and place in this space." And I mean that. No matter how trivial a question may seem, it's important for people to know that they have the right to ask and they have the right to a serious answer.
4. Divide and Conquer
Assigning tasks and following up ensures things get done. I hold staff meetings on Wednesdays. For these meetings, I give everyone a "board position" which means they are in charge of a specific duty for the front of house. There's a Chairperson of the Board for Utilities, for Marketing, and so on. I ask each person to come to the meeting with a board report for the week. That way, we can all divide and conquer.