Building a culture of teamwork at your smoothie bar is important not just for team member retention and satisfaction, but for guest service. If your team functions as one efficient unit filled with positive energy, guests will receive faster, better service and leave with a positive impression of your brand.
To achieve this, team members must have a goal that goes beyond punching in and out. Like a sports team striving for the win, your team should work toward a greater goal or vision.
Tips from a Team Player
Former college football player for Louisiana Tech University and Smoothie King franchisee Sean Cangelosi offers some tricks that franchisees can take from a football coach’s playbook:
1. Set Group Goals
In a football game, all the players are well aware of their collective goal: Outscore the other team. In a smoothie bar, the team’s goal isn’t always so obvious. Eliminate this problem by clearly defining goals for your team members, both individually and as a group.
The most obvious choice is to set a sales or revenue goal for the location as a whole. However, you could also set goals for guest feedback (one positive Yelp review each week), guest issues resolved or workplace generosity. For example, you might keep track of instances where one team member helps another get out of a bind. Make sure to reward your team when they meet their collective goal.
Setting group goals helps reframe the workplace as a space where team members support each other and prioritize the needs of the group. This – as opposed to an every-man-for-himself approach – creates a healthier and more productive work environment.
“As a receiver, you want to catch 10 balls a game, but that’s not always what’s best for the team,” Cangelosi said. “In a business, you’re also working with a team, trying to go in a certain direction.”
2. Lead by Example
Great coaches model sportsmanship and commitment to their athletes. Great managers do the same.
If team morale is consistently low, that might signal a problem with your leadership team. Managers set the tone, and it’s their job to foster a supportive, energetic environment. Your managers should be the most exemplary team members at your location, so make sure you’re promoting based on attitude and aptitude, and not just time at the company. Also, take the time to mentor managers and give them the tools they need to build a culture of teamwork.
It’s important for managers to lead by example, but experienced team members can do this, as well. Encourage seasoned staff members to take newer employees under their wings. This helps establish a culture of teamwork from the moment a new employee walks in the door.
3. Start with Hiring
A bad player can poison a good team dynamic. Consider prioritizing workplace culture during the hiring process – ask yourself, “Does this person embody our brand’s values?”
One way to do this is by asking interviewees about a time that they successfully worked with other people. Do they view themselves as a team player? Can they talk about an example?
Let hiring be an ongoing process, instead of something you only do when you’re scrambling to fill an opening. Ask your best team members if they have any friends they can refer. These referrals should hold special weight because a high-performing team member can vouch that the person will fit with your workplace culture. Continually ask for referrals and check in with potential hires. That way, you’ll be prepared when a role becomes open.
4. Create Chances to Connect at Your Smoothie Bar
A sports team spends time together on and off the field to build trust and relationships. It’s tough for your team members to become a true team if they never get the chance to connect off the clock.
To help build relationships among your employees, try throwing a holiday party, setting up an outing or creating a group text for chat that isn’t work-related. The resulting friendships will create more investment and accountability at work – employees can feel like they’re a part of something bigger.
Another way to foster connections is through team meetings. These don’t have to be boring affairs where team members receive negative notes on their performance. Keep things upbeat, and give your team an opportunity to voice their ideas and concerns. Give their thoughts credence by discussing them as a group, even if you can’t realistically incorporate their ideas or solve their problems. Also, use this chance to commend your team on things they do well or ways they’ve improved.
When workplace conflicts occur, confront the problem head on. Conflicts can quickly lead to gossip and resentment if leadership doesn’t take a proactive approach. Facilitate a structured conflict resolution process for team members who butt heads, and always ask what they need to make things go smoother.
Team Leaders Wanted
The skills Cangelosi gained as an athlete have helped him as a smoothie bar owner – particularly, his approach to teamwork. He stresses the importance of teamwork at his Smoothie King locations across Louisiana, and his businesses are better for it. By setting group goals, leading by example, hiring for fit and finding opportunities for employees to connect, you can strengthen your smoothie bar from the inside out.