In the hustle and bustle of the restaurant business, conflict is part of the game. Conflict can happen within your team, with one of your employees, with a guest, or with a vendor. Conflict in the workplace isn’t always a bad thing. Productive conflict can lead to positive change. Destructive conflict, on the other hand, can degrade team morale and make management challenges even tougher. You can avoid destructive conflict by practicing proactive conflict management.

4 Steps of Proactive Conflict Management

Identify trigger points. Work with key members of your staff to make a list of topics that could cause destructive conflict within your restaurant team. Sometimes this discussion alone can help address issues before they become problems. Use tools such as customer service surveys and talks with other managers to identify issues that can cause conflict with guests. Address these divisive topics as part of your proactive conflict management strategy.

Create and maintain a hostile-free work environment. As a restaurant manager, you are responsible for creating an environment where everyone feels welcome. You must have a zero-tolerance policy against disrespectful behavior such as discrimination and harassment. Also make it clear what other behaviors aren’t acceptable, such as gossip, favoritism, and sabotage. Set the example for your team with your own behavior.

Stay out of minor disagreements. You can sometimes inadvertently give legitimacy to minor conflicts between team members just by getting involved. Empowering employees is critical to proactive conflict management. To do this, provide employee-level training on teamwork, conflict management, and problem solving. When you trust your employees to manage their own issues, you’re creating more confident team players.

Unite around a shared mission. Successful teams work together toward common goals. Keep your team’s mission top-of-mind by focusing on it in training sessions, team meetings, and employee evaluations. Create supportive reward and incentives programs. Remember, strong teams turn conflicts into opportunities. If you don’t feel like your goals are concrete enough to unite your team, conduct a gap analysis of team performance to create goals that will work.

Team Training for Proactive Conflict Management

The Cycle of Service breaks down a guest’s visit into separate steps from the moment guests pull into the parking lot until that final moment when they walk out the door. Teamwork is what keeps the cycle turning. Check out the complete Cycle of Service restaurant training workshop here.