I sat waiting for my meal at a well-known Café some time ago. As I waited I found pleasure in observing the service staff and my general surroundings. The main entrance of the Café had been closed on account of the weather and as my eyes fluttered from one scene to another, I found myself suddenly captivated by a lady trying to find the Cafés entrance. There was no signage to redirect regular or new patrons to the temporary entrance of the Café but there must have been 6 or more waiters in direct view of the lady and the entrance. The ladies face was heavy laden with what translated to me as exasperation and frustration. She paced up and down one side of the Café, then another in futile determination. Eventually a customer guided the lady to the entrance by getting up and sliding open the door for her.
At this stage, I became curious about the ladies mindset. Why did she not ask the waiters where the entrance was? How long would she have been willing to pace up and down the outside of the Café before making the decision to leave or take some other course of action? After a few seconds pondering this, I slowly came to accepting that trying to determine the cause of the ladies behavior and mindset was pointless. The customers’ mindset could have been affected by circumstantial factors. Perhaps something else had flustered her. Perhaps she thought she knew the Café so well that she could figure out where the entrance had changed to without assistance. She was in an environment that should not require any of the mental strain from her. She was not at work or on duty and thus had no responsibility to know where the temporary entrance was.
This simple realization directed my full attention to the waiters and service staff. They were all in deep conversation with one another completely unaware of patrons coming to the Café. As I observed their behavior and pondered their mindset, I asked myself what could have been so interesting that their focus became completely distracted from one of the main tasks they had woken up to fulfill? Surly one of them, if not a few of them, should have been attentive enough to be on the scout for ways to meet the needs of customers and potential customers. This however was not the case, the waiter that was doing the talking had the rest of the group so enthralled by his or her topic of conversation that not a single person in the group noticed that an infuriated customer was stomping up and down looking for the entrance.
This type of behavior is common and has become the norm in many service oriented establishments. Sometimes it is displayed in situations where the waiter avoids eye contact with the customer in order to avoid any requests. At times it is in the way service staff treat one customer in contrast to another customer. Below par service standards have become an issue in many service based businesses.
Upon pondering and thinking about this problem, I realized that attitude is everything. In the scenario with the lady looking for the entrance, a positive attitude toward ones work would have resulted in a waiter who was looking out for customers and potential customer’s needs. No one would have had to prompt or probe a focused employee to be on the look-out for customers and potential customers’ needs. A negative attitude, however, results in indifference and a lack of care or interest to patrons needs.
A negative attitude can be caused by numerous factors and it is as contagious as chicken pox or the measles. If it is not dealt with early in its conception it will result in a whole basket of ‘rotten apples’. It is therefore very important to look at what may cause a bad attitude and nip it in the bud before if stinks up your entire hotel, restaurant or café business.
Here are a few pointers for you to evaluate the causes of a negative attitude and what you can possibly do to rectify it.
- Poor Motivation
We all want to feel appreciated and recognized for the effort and dedication we invest into our work. Although people are not all the same and their needs may vary and differ, these three simple personnel motivators can go a long way in the improvement of your customer care;
- Show Appreciation. As the boss or manager, never adopt the attitude that your personnel need the job you offered them so much so that you do not have to show them appreciation for the positive input they have on the business. Saying thank you and showing appreciation for their efforts goes a long way in motivating them to do better.
- Catalyze Friendly Competition. Competition is often thought of as a means to increasing sales and profits but the fact of the matter is that you can stir a competitive streak in your personnel about absolutely anything, including service quality. People respond better to peer or same level competition than they do to managers and authoritative figures simply issuing instruction.
- Collaborate. Collaborate with your staff in the field of service. Take time out of your managerial tasks to do the serving with them. Showing your personnel that you understand the challenges of service and are able to handle the pressures that accompany service will motivate them to do better too. More importantly, it will show them that you are part of the team and not just the power that oversees everything.
- Inadequate Training & Development
Most employees want to feel that there is progress in their careers and lives. The main impact that training and development in the workplace has on employee attitude is that there is an investment being made toward their future that is for their benefit and not just the company.
Investing in employee’s lives also creates an opportunity for their promotion within the company. This sense of growth develops a stronger sense of responsibility and morale in most employees.
- Job Security
In lower level jobs, remuneration structure and value may affect the attitude of personnel. Although growth and progress is important to most employees on lower levels of employment, remuneration may overshadow the long term benefits of training and development due to pressing life issues personnel may face.
Providing job security in the form of basic salaries instead of the tip based system may influence staff morale positively.
Even though the above can positively impact Staff Morale, it is important for businesses to evaluate individuals on an individual to individual basis. Some employees may have a bad attitude based on past work places and experiences or self-limiting beliefs which are completely isolated to the general causes for low personnel morale. In the end, it is important to preserve general staff morale by addressing ill placed attitudes as fast as possible.