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    4 Tried and True Ways to Create a Supportive Team Culture

    Ever wonder what separates strong crews who work well together—whether the restaurant is in the middle of a rush or winding down for the night—from the pack? The team culture.

    When your employees are committed to nurturing and upholding the team’s shared values, beliefs, behaviors and workplace processes, there are often fewer conflicts that derail them from working toward their shared goal. Add a supportive team culture to the mix, and you have a team that not only gets their job done, but that also takes the extra steps to help their coworkers succeed. Everyone is willing to roll up their sleeves to help.

    Having a supportive culture, that's free from the “that’s not my job” attitude, creates an atmosphere that’s inviting and welcoming to both your employees and your guests, and that’s great for business. If you’re looking to be more intentional about creating a more supportive team culture, start with these four steps.

    1. Hire great people

    A supportive team culture starts with the people on the team. It goes without saying that having the best people working for you will take you the furthest. Optimistic and hardworking people understand the importance of a supportive team, and they watch for that when they’re looking for work. 

    When you’re hiring new team members, it’s best to avoid naysayers or people who only worry about themselves. To build a supportive culture, keep an eye out for these qualities when you’re interviewing candidates:

    • Great communicator
    • Team-oriented
    • Collaborator
    • Reliable
    • Full of integrity

    2. Make your goals and expectations clear

    Every team—in and outside of the restaurant industry—needs a strong leader that can unite them, coach them and point them to their ultimate goal. This is especially true of your staff. If your common goal is the greatest customer service, let your teams know. Clearly communicating what you expect of each of them, individually and collectively, is the only true way to create a functional team that works together.

    One great way to accomplish common goals is to write them down and post them where everyone can see them. If you have a break room, post it near the table where people sit. Or, put it above the time clock so your employees see it right before they start their shift or return from break.

    Another way to get the team aligned: make sure that each team member knows your processes and procedures. If there’s a standard way to prep food or clean out the frier, be sure that everyone on the team knows it. Getting everyone on the same page removes arguments for how something should be done, and empowers the team to quickly jump in and help others as needed.

    3. Keep building on the team culture

    Healthy organizational cultures are always changing and growing, so it’s important that you continue to create an environment where your culture can evolve for the better.

    One way to do this is to work with the unique skills of the individuals on your team. Allow them to bring their whole selves to work. Everyone has strong skills, and leaning into them allows you to build the strongest team possible. For example, if one person prefers to work face-to-face with customers, then allow them to take orders. And, on the flip side of that, if someone is quicker in the back and prefers not to interact with the public, take note. Placing them up front will disrupt the team (and your customer experience). 

    Another way to enrich your team culture is to be intentional about how you approach diversity and inclusion efforts. Diversity among your team members is important, and you should strive, as does Papa John’s, to actively include as many workers from different backgrounds as you can find in your area. When you bring in diversity, you widen your organizational perspective, which empowers you to innovate and solve problems faster.

    4. Lead by example

    Remember: your staff is watching you. If you’re not assisting when there’s a lunch rush or when a shift is down a team member, no matter how much you talk about being a supportive team, the message you’re sending to your team is that you don’t really care. So, as a manager or business owner, take that customer’s order when no one else can, flip the burgers if your cook is on break and mop the dish room floor when it looks like everyone will be getting out late.

    And as you step up to help, make it fun. Let the team see that you enjoy being with them. Nothing will create a more positive and supportive team culture than when management and team members genuinely have a good time while they work.

    What are the benefits of a supportive team culture?

    The rewards for creating a supportive and positive team culture that strives for a common purpose can be profound. Customer service—and customer satisfaction—is at its best when team members work together in a complementary way. And, an extra bonus for you, employee turnover decreases when employees feel connected to their fellow coworkers and management team.

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