It’s cold in here…

As you might expect because we’re quite often on the road away from home, we end up eating out a lot and tend to find ourselves in the many different outlets of the popular high street chain of restaurants.


You know the ones Café Rouge, Prezzo, Nando’s, Pizza Express and if we are feeling really flush, or probably more likely, have an online voucher Cote.


It’s an easy option after a long day; we know we are not going to have to queue for ages, we will know there will be something on the menu we will like and the quality of the food will be pretty decent too. All in all a safe bet and just what we need to wind down, review and prepare for the next day and maybe get a bit of time in to chat about our latest fav US drama’s.


Interestingly though we were in one of our favourite Italian chains recently and were stunned by how different it was from any of our previous visits, albeit it was the first time we’d been to this particular restaurant in this town.  In truth the whole experience was terrible, one of the worst we’ve experienced in any of these types of restaurants.


Definitely the biggest thing we noticed was the staff – they just simply didn’t seem to care. We should have read the warning signs when we walked in and were totally ignored for a good 5 minutes, but other than been mildly annoyed we let it slide.  However this pretty much continued for every other person who walked in after us, people were just left by the door and totally ignored by staff standing right next to them.  The service was cold and at times downright rude, with little or no acknowledgement of us when they placed our meals down in front of us, even the food wasn’t anything like as good as normal. At one point the people on the next table complained about their food to their waiter and whilst appearing to listen to them looked at us and rolled his eyes – unbelievable


They definitely seemed to have enough people working, so it wasn’t a staffing issue.


As we made our way through our decidedly mediocre meal, we sat there and started to ponder what was so very different at this branch from the ones where we’d had numerous great experiences in the past.


The staff were clearly demotivated, disinterested, simply doing just enough to fulfil the most basic requirements of their role; it was actually a bit depressing and more than a little uncomfortable.


We were there for just over an hour, we actually didn’t want to stay any longer, so certainly were not going to have coffee and pudding.


It was clear the atmosphere in the restaurant that night was clearly having an impact on the experience of most people eating there, not to mention those turning around and leaving, possibly never to return again.


The worst thing about the whole sorry situation was the manager, who was on duty, was completely disinterested in doing anything about improving the service or atmosphere; choosing instead to spend most of his time chatting to the barman.  Shocking!


This whole experience really brought home to us the huge impact people have in creating the working environment.  If they are disinterested and demotivated then chances are, just like in the restaurant, that’s the atmosphere they create.  Perhaps worse still sitting in this restaurant it was blatantly obvious HOW the waiters were feeling that night had a tangible and measurable impact on the results – not only because people were walking out, but also because we can’t have been the only people so eager to leave that we skipped dessert and coffee.


We firmly believe it’s the leader’s job to make sure your people don’t simply feel like a resource, and end up just going through the motions.


How much time do you give to stepping back to observe their levels of motivation and engagement? Do you make it a priority or do lots of over things take precedence? How often do you consider how to maintain or increase the levels of commitment in the people you lead?


Sometimes it can be as simple as recognising there are some tough times ahead or the situation you are in is not ideal and letting people know you appreciate their efforts, but as a team you will get through it.  If the manager in the restaurant that night had done something like that, the atmosphere would have been completely different.


Trust us how your people feel, either way, will have a huge impact on the results you achieve.



Martin & Elizabeth

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