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Attrition and Dissension


Michael Swamy highlights the cause and effect of attrition in restaurants and offers some solutions on making the workplace more cohesive.

Being from within the hospitality industry and having witnessed the setting up of many a restaurant, I’ve observed one factor that seems constant across all boards — the level of turnover. The drive, the passion of being of service seems to have disappeared, and this is due to a lack of education and system of work ethics. The very factor of realisation that a job well done will only bring in fair returns is a non-issue with staff. Call it a mutiny of sorts within the ranks, or at times a collative dissent towards the management, if you like. This exists across the board.
There are several solutions to this problem, of which one is hiring consultants. However, despite this, the management is often at a loss when it comes to the implementation of the suggestions offered by these very consultants. Most businesses want to move forward, but the malaise and lack of enthusiasm and work culture is what slows it down.

Cause and Effect
The pull-my-neighbour-down crab syndrome is a key issue that can hurt both individuals and the business. In fact, one of the main attitudes that must be discouraged is that of feeling indispensible. Getting individuals to rethink their roles and career futures is very important. And, getting bogged down by the crab-like mentality is not going to take them anywhere.
Weekly meetings should not just be about planning. Reviews and meetings are a way of explaining individual roles in the company. Rather than simply firing someone, talking about matters is often the best solution to allay any sense of negativity. Moreover, meetings should be utilised to showcase problems in the restaurant – something that the staff must be aware of since, more often than not, they believe that they are the only ones with problems and it’s the management’s duty to sort them out. At the same time, the management must also ensure that the staff feels wanted as people and not just workers.

The manager’s role
Popularity should not be a good manager’s priority. Stepping up to the board and quelling dissension is a key factor in decision making; sometimes, letting staff go is best so that they can find their true vocation. It’s not often easy, for in India, it is very hard for people in the lower spectrum of life to make that change due to several factors – a major one being the lack of counselling.
As a competent mediator, very often, for the manager, the art of stepping back and inculcating the need for professionalism and the tact of walking away when it becomes a slanging match is very necessary when things get hostile. Often, the supposed setback is not the problem itself. The actual problem is the deep resentment people harbour in their hearts over small issues. In such instances, it is often seen that the management gets embroiled in a matter where both parties don’t even remember where or when the problem started.

What to do
The introduction of good communication skills and workshops very often becomes a platform for members of the staff to talk to each other on varied topics. Communication and dissension are brought out into the open, and an external mediator is the key to resolving several issues.
Micro-management of staff is another thing to avoid. Instead, create a buddy system within the ranks, implement solutions and give staff the ability to resolve conflicts amongst themselves. Let them talk to each other about their hidden problems. After this, if there are still issues, then one can consider mediating, but definitely not before the people involved have tried to sort out matters peacefully on their own.
Apart from this, bringing in elements like exercise, yoga and meditation play a key role not only in changing the individual’s perception, but in dispelling jealousy and animosity by encouraging the staff to do things together often.

Parting Words
To emulate leadership and give the staff a certain flexibility to make decisions sometimes gives them a sense of elan and a sense of being part of the process. They then work towards the goals of the organisation, thus fulfilling their own goals. Being a good coach and mentor is a management skill rarely taught in management or business schools; life teaches one that. Life and experience are good examples of working towards breaking out of the crab syndrome.
The motto of creating a good work culture is to keep on repeating “we are all in it together.” After all, at the end of the day, your restaurant does run well because your staff works tirelessly to bring a satisfied smile on your customers’ faces. And, if you’re reading this from the other side of the table, the management or your superiors at work not only need your performance but also your support to achieve your common goal of great hospitality given to guests.