How To Manage Restaurant Staff: An In-Depth Guide

By Starza Thompson|Feb 28, 2024|1:02 pm CST

Running a successful restaurant isn’t just about serving up tasty food. It’s also about knowing how to manage restaurant staff effectively. When your team is well-managed, your business thrives, customers are happier, and your bottom line improves.

But how do you get there? You’re about to discover some practical strategies for managing your restaurant staff. From training to communication, we’ll cover the essentials that can make a significant difference in your day-to-day operations.

So, whether you’re a seasoned restaurant owner or just starting out, read on. Your journey towards better staff management starts here.

Key Takeaways

  • Managing restaurant staff effectively is crucial for running a successful restaurant. Well-managed teams contribute to happier customers and an increase in business profits.
  • Essential elements for staff management include a robust point-of-sale (POS) system, clear communication, comprehensive training for new hires, and positive recognition staff’s hard work.
  • The use of a POS system can streamline operations, help track labor costs in real time, and facilitate efficient communication between different teams.
  • Strong training and communication is critical to creating a cohesive team. Regular team meetings, an open management approach, and clear delegation of tasks help ensure smooth restaurant operations.
  • A successful restaurant manager should possess qualities such as leadership, organization, empathy, planning, technological savviness, multitasking, and time management.
  • Effective staff management strategies may include setting clear goals, setting expectations, showing appreciation, sharing credit for success, creating team spirit, and investing in systems and technology.


Why is managing restaurant staff important?

As a restaurant owner or manager, one of your top priorities is keeping your business running efficiently. But an efficient business starts with a well-managed team. Here are some of the reasons why proper staff management is vital to your restaurant’s success.

Smooth restaurant operations

First and foremost, a well-managed team will keep your restaurant operations running smoothly. Given the fast-paced nature of the hospitality industry, keeping things running like clockwork is essential. From the bustling front-of-house team to the diligent back-of-house staff, every role is important and interconnected. Without effective management and clear communication, confusion can arise and disrupt the smooth functioning of your restaurant.

Enhanced customer experience

Team spirit and good communication among staff is palpable to the customers who dine at your restaurant. Restaurant workers who feel valued and happy in their workplace are more likely to deliver stellar, attentive service. Because of this, fostering an work environment of teamwork and positivity is critical—and managing your staff effectively can make this happen.

Reduced labor costs

Proper staff management also directly affects your restaurant’s bottom line. Effective employee scheduling can reduce labor costs and prevent unnecessary overtime expenses. Simultaneously, a positive work environment and fair work hours contribute significantly to employee retention. Given the costs associated with finding and training new staff members, improving retention is one surefire way to protect your business’s budget.

Effective restaurant management is an ongoing, comprehensive process. Your management style influences every element of your restaurant, and plays a significant role in your business’s success.

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Necessary qualities for managing restaurant staff

As a manager, one of the most important parts of your role is supervising restaurant staff, whose performance greatly impacts your business. Here are the essential qualities you need to excel in this role.


Stepping into a management role in the restaurant industry requires strong leadership skills. Running a successful restaurant isn’t just about directing team members; it’s about inspiring them. Leaders set the pace for the work environment, and it’s through their guidance that the front-of-house and back-of-house teams are able to work harmoniously.

Leadership takes many forms. Along with supervising staff, you likely need to make tough decisions during busy periods, maintain a positive attitude, and rally workers to stay committed to restaurant operations, even during hard times.


Scheduling restaurant staff can be a complex task. You’ll need excellent organization to coordinate work hours, manage rest days, and maintain optimum staffing levels. Balancing these priorities requires a well-thought-out business plan, strong communication, and a reliable POS (point-of-sale) system that can effectively manage real-time restaurant operations.


In a business centered around serving people, empathy is crucial. To be a strong leader, you must first understand and empathize with both your team members and your customers. On the customer side, empathy will allow you to anticipate issues with the dining experience and resolve problems quickly. On the employee side, empathy will allow you to make your team feel valued, leading to improved retention and top-notch service.


Planning goes hand in hand with organization. To run a restaurant effectively, you need the foresight to plan new menu items, specials, employee schedules, and daily activities. All of this starts with a detailed business plan. With a little strategy and the right tools, you can keep both your restaurant team and operations on track.

Tech Savvy

In the age of social media and marketing technology, restaurant owners must be tech-savvy. Using the right technology can drastically improve your management, from employee scheduling to facilitating communication between the front-of-house and kitchen teams. In addition, having an up-to-date understanding of social media can help you market your restaurant and staying connected with customers.


Running a new restaurant or a busy pop-up often requires you to juggle multiple tasks at once. One moment you might be addressing an issue with inventory, and the next you could be figuring out how to respond to a difficult review. From managing staff issues to ensuring customer expectations are met, your ability to multitask will often dictate whether your restaurant has a strong day or a challenging one.

Time Management

Time is a precious commodity in the food service industry, and using time well is a key part of restaurant management. Whether it’s managing how quickly kitchen staff complete orders or finding the right cadence and length for team meetings, your time management skills can ensure that all aspects of operations run efficiently.

Team Building

A lot of hard work goes into creating team spirit among restaurant workers. Cultivating a positive work environment, establishing communication channels, and fostering mutual respect will all improve the overall productivity of your restaurant team.

Embracing each of these tenets of management can elevate your restaurant operations, enhance the customer experience, and reduce labor costs. With an informed, empathetic, and strategic approach to restaurant management, you’ll be able to nurture your staff’s skills and create a truly committed workforce.

How to manage restaurant staff

Managing staff effectively is key to running a successful restaurant,but how do you actually do it? Let’s delve deeper into how you can implement best practices for restaurant management and build a strong team.

Set Goals

Firstly, set clear, achievable goals for your restaurant team members. Keep them informed about any general goals, such as serving a certain number of new specials. You can use these conversations to also review work efficiency and set target goals for individuals or the whole team. Setting goals helps align the team towards common objectives, creating a positive impact on restaurant operations.

Be Proactive

Forward-thinking is crucial in the restaurant business. Spend slower periods preparing for busy hours and last-minute staffing changes. By proactively creating systems to address these challenges, you can handle potential problems before they emerge. As a result, your operations will stay smooth and the dining experience will improve for all your guests.

Communicate Clearly

Good communication is the backbone to any high-functioning restaurant team. You can strengthen communication by scheduling regular team meetings to share updates, give feedback, and discuss improvements. Your staff members should feel free to voice their concerns too, fostering transparency and trust.

Set Proper Expectations

From bartenders to back-of-house workers, setting proper expectations for each role is important to boosting efficiency and job satisfaction. When your restaurant staff knows what they need to achieve and how their hard work impacts the business, they’re more likely to stay motivated and make positive contributions. In fact, Gallup reports that businesses with engaged workers are 21% more profitable than businesses with unengaged workers. Setting clear expectations is one way of driving this engagement—just be sure that your employee scheduling aligns with these expectations. Keeping expectations clear and consistent is a key step towards building trust with staff.

Show Appreciation

No restaurant can run without devoted staff. Recognize your employees’ efforts and hard work, and consider rewarding them with positive incentives. Sometimes showing appreciation is as simple as giving credit where it’s due, shouting out your workers, and making sure to protect fair labor practices. All together, these actions can improve employee retentionreducing labor costs over time.

Train Your Staff

Training new staff is an opportunity to set the standard for the attitude and work ethic you’d like to see. It’s also a critical chance to make sure employees feel confident and empowered, so if challenges do arise, they can resolve them appropriately. Proper training for restaurant workers not only raises their effectiveness, but also boosts their confidence and their commitment to the business.

Share Credit for Success

When your restaurant experiences success, be it an increase in sales or improved customer ratings, share this glory with your team. The restaurant industry runs on collaboration, and every victory represents hard work from every member of the team. Celebrating together can help workers feel ownership over their work, along with instilling team pride and high morale.

Create Team Spirit

Cultivating team spirit can help your staff work together in a positive, friction-free environment. Try hosting team-building activities or optional social gatherings where your employees can get to know each other outside of the hustle and bustle of work. In many restaurants, “family meal” is an important moment in the day, encouraging the whole team to sit down and eat together. These moments, while simple, are critical to building team spirit. When workers feel like they’re truly a part of a team, they’re more likely to step in and support one another during hectic shifts.

Focus on the Customer Experience

Don’t forget, the restaurant business is a part of the hospitality industry. Training your staff to prioritize exceptional customer service can make a vast difference in customer experience. Making sure you’re listening to customer feedback, and occasionally dine in at your own restaurant to look for opportunities to enhance the dining experience.

Invest in Systems and Technology

Technology can help you optimize your restaurant processes even when you’re stretched thin. Implement a reliable point-of-sale (POS) system to track sales in real-time. You can also manage staff schedules more effectively with proper technology and use social media to update customers about your latest offerings.

Find a Mentor

Lastly, know that you’re not alone. Many successful restaurateurs are willing to share their wisdom. Try attending industry mixers, workshops, and conferences. These events can provide you with new insights and restaurant management tips to drive your restaurant business forwards. They can also be great places to connect with peers and meet potential mentors.

Keep these points in mind, and you’re well on your way to managing your restaurant staff effectively. Remember, the effort you put into creating a positive, efficient work environment is reflected in the customer experience, and ultimately in the success of your restaurant.

Team management is an ongoing journey

Effective restaurant management isn’t about reaching a specific destination. It’s about continually balancing many priorities—from employee scheduling and motivation to business operations and customer experience.

We’ve covered many important steps to take as a restaurant owner or manager. But let’s not put a full-stop here. Learning how to manage restaurant staff is a continuous process. There are always more practices to incorporate. Keep exploring, learning, and implementing: that’s the secret sauce of a successful restaurant manager.

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Why is managing restaurant staff important?

Managing restaurant staff effectively is the first step to improving operations for the entire business. Well-managed restaurant employees are happier, more confident, more committed to their work, and better-equipped to offer excellent customer service. As a result, operations run more smoothly, less time gets wasted, and customers have a better dining experience.

What are tips for managing restaurant staff?

There are many tips for managing restaurant staff effectively, but the most important ones focus on helping employees feel comfortable and confident at work, proactively addressing potential issues, and leveraging technology to streamline operations. Try holding regular team meetings where you can transparently share news and congratulate the team on shared victories. During slower times, work to improve your management systems so that you will be prepared for busy periods. And finally, use technology, such as POS systems and employee scheduling software, to streamline restaurant operations.

What skills are needed to manage restaurant staff?

A strong restaurant manager should possess skills including leadership, tech savvy, time management, and organization. They should also be highly empathetic, so they can better address any issues that customers or employees might experience. A good leader in the restaurant industry should also possess a high level of determination, curiosity, and openness to change. All these attributes will help them continue to strive for excellence and find innovative new solutions.