The Rules of Serving: Rule Seven

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Unfortunately, none of the class could read the rules. Those who cannot read Animal Farm are doomed to repeat it.

Rule Seven: Be the coworker you want to have.


Once you have been at a particular restaurant for any length of time, the floor chart can tell you a great deal about how your shift will go.  Most servers can see the people they are working with and find reason for either optimism or frustration.  Some shifts, you see names that you know can take care of whatever is thrown at them and still be able to help you if you need it.  Other shifts, you are surrounded by people who are lazy and unwilling to help.  The difference between a smooth shift and one you have to struggle through can often be just a couple of coworkers.

Which begs a question.  When your coworkers see your name on the floor chart are they put at ease or anticipating extra work?  No one likes to work with a person who is a ball of stress and can barely keep ahead of their own section.  No one likes working with someone who does only the minimum to keep their guests happy.  If you are not someone who people feel confident working beside, then you are part of the problem.

You cannot control the actions of all of your coworkers.  You can control your own actions though and lead by example.  When every server on the floor behaves with the best interest of the team in mind, shifts can run incredibly smoothly.  The best method you have for making that happen is to set a standard for others to emulate.  Being the coworker you want to have is the best way to get others to do the same.

Here are some tips for being the coworker you want to have:

Default To “Yes”: Many servers when asked to help will instinctively try to come up with an excuse to avoid it.  They are then often surprised when someone else responds the same way to a favor they ask for.  The easiest way to get help when you need it is to offer it when other people do.  By changing your default setting to “yes” you will find others much more likely to help you.

Get Extra: One of the most selfish moves any server can make is to only grab one of something they know others will need as well.  Finding a side station out of glasses or silverware is a call to restock it.  A server who goes to the back and grabs only what they need is almost explicitly sending the message to their coworkers that they do not matter.  A great server knows that if they need one of something, they will soon need another.  The best way to insure that what you need is where you need it is to restock instead of grabbing just one.

Be Calm In The Storm: Everyone knows when the restaurant is busy.  Stress levels begin to rise and many of your coworkers might be struggling to keep on top of everything.  This is the point where a great server knows the value of being calm.  Being that relaxing and controlled influence is often the key to keeping others above water.  Countless times entire staffs have been thrown into the weeds by the panic and stress of a single member.  Be the calming influence in the storm and others will react in kind.

Pay A Compliment: One of the most important skills of a great server is to make the others around them perform better.  One of the simplest ways to do this is to help put everyone in a good frame of mind before the shift.  It takes only a second and costs nothing to say something nice about a coworker’s new haircut or how their tie compliments their eyes.  A single brief sentence can do wonders for a coworker having a bad day.  Be the person who makes others feel more confident and you can watch morale skyrocket.

These are four very basic qualities for a server to have.  None of these require great deals of skill or expertise.  When you think to the people who make your shifts easier, don’t they have these qualities?  How many of the people you dread working with have all four?  Now which group do you want to be in?

The key to all of this is leading by example.  You cannot make all of the other servers in your restaurant step up and do all of these things.  You can do them first.  When someone steps up and sets the example others will follow suit.  Acting in this way robs others of their excuses not to do the same.  Be the coworker that you want to have and you will find others doing the same.

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3 Responses to The Rules of Serving: Rule Seven

  1. yellowcat December 9, 2010 at 4:37 pm #

    I once worked with a young girl who had the managers snowed. They thought she was the best server they had and couldn’t figure out why no one liked to work with her. The reason was she treated us like we were her personal back up. She would screech into the waitstation and bellow, “I need…” and everyone else was supposed to run and fetch whatever she asked for. If someone didn’t get the item, she would pick one server and bully her for the rest of the night. Then she would brag about how much money she made. Yeah, on our backs. Our service suffered because we were taking care of HER tables. There was much rejoicing when she left.

  2. yellowcat December 9, 2010 at 4:38 pm #

    Oh, and I’m stealing your picture. It needs to be posted in our waitstation.


  1. The Rules of Serving: Rule Seven | The Hospitality Formula - December 13, 2010

    […] the full post at Tips For Improving Your Tips This entry was posted in Servers and tagged 12/4, 12/4T2, eight, five, four, how to be a […]

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