What is a staff briefing?
A staff briefing is when all members of the staff have a 15-20 minute meeting before a shift, typically before each main seating in restaurant hours (Typically one before 12pm and another before 5pm with staff ready to start the brief 20 mins before service).
It is an opportunity to create a bond of unity and a nurture the feeling that everyone in the venue (floor, bar, kitchen and management) are all pulling together with a clear understanding of the expectations for the service ahead.
It can be a great time to ask questions, put forward thoughts and issues that may have arisen previously and inform everyone on shift from Barbacks to the GM of any solutions found to these, while also giving a live platform to enact the changes that may be necessary for the upcoming service.
Why should I use one?
A staff briefing can be used for many things in a venue, to set up a shift structure (who will be looking after what section), if there are large parties to accommodate (this can involve setting up lines of dialogue between the kitchen and the floor so that no one is hit with a 15+ cover cheque out of the blue), including what numbers to expect and when (in order to anticipate a big push and to stress turn times on tables if required). It’s also incredibly useful for giving a rundown of your 86’s, 85’s & 68’s as well as any specials or items you want to push. They are a great tool to take the chaos out of a shift by plotting out the path to the end of a hectic service, however they are also a great benefit to your guests. Information can be passed onto staff regarding bookings (is it someone’s birthday in the party, do they go to your restaurant – or a sister restaurant regularly, favourite dishes and wines) these are small things to note for a guest. However if something happens during the shift where – for example their waiter changed, the incoming member of the team will have heard the information about the table at the beginning of the shift and will be able to pick up from where another member of the team left. If you have a number of people starting at irregular times one of your managers would then take those staff aside and give them the bare bones of the briefing (which should be straight forward as they will have a sheet explaining all the points to hit).
What should be included?
This time gives you the opportunity to inform staff of changes to your menus and recipes, it’s an excellent time for the kitchen or bar to try out a new dish or cocktail that may be going live in a few weeks while giving everyone else an opportunity to learn about the ingredients and processes behind it. It can also give you the time to learn how to explain the dish/ cocktail/ beer to a guest by talking it through with the rest of the team.
This is one of the most important uses of a staff briefing – Training. Training can be so difficult to find the time for (to ensure everybody shows up and it is worthwhile for those that do) that making time for it every day makes it part of the fabric of your venue and part of the culture of your staff.
The types of short training in these briefings could be quick refreshers or week long focuses on a larger theme (e.g. dessert whiskey pairings or a focus on excellent customer care). These would usually be lined up and delivered by your GM / AGM and Headwaiter team however the people who work in your venues will have a multitude of different passions and interests be it someone who loves Natural Wines, American whiskey, Scottish fish – anything. These briefings are a great time to highlight those passions and to lean into them, learn from everyone around you and highlight the knowledge of your staff.
And by giving everyone a part to play in the teaching and learning during these short meetings you would be helping build a positive workplace where staff feel as though their knowledge and opinions are worthwhile for all involved.