Canadian Pizza Magazine

Making Dough with Diane: November 2014

Diane Chiasson   

Features Business and Operations Staffing

Eight ways to be an effective team leader

Behind every successful pizza operation is an effective manager or owner who knows how to successfully lead staff.

Behind every successful pizza operation is an effective manager or owner who knows how to successfully lead staff. Good leaders are able to motivate staff, promote the business, deal with situations and be supportive.

Superior leadership is especially important in the restaurant and foodservice industry, because staff wages are generally quite low. This means that there is little incentive to stay put, resulting in high levels of turnover. Most foodservice operations are unable to pay their staff the money it would take to give them incentive to be team players, so it is up to the owners and managers to lead and motivate their staff to work to the best of their abilities.

Regardless of whether you serve the best pizza in town, or are in the most ideal location, without great staff and great customer service, your operation will not see the success it could potentially have.


A good manager leads by example. Here are eight ways to get your team to follow your lead:

A great leader is able to communicate visions, set goals, teach and train staff, reinforce rules and regulations, and provide support to a team. The most important attribute you can have as a great leader is the ability to communicate. Hold meetings with employees on a regular basis, post notes on a bulletin board, send emails – whatever it takes to always be in touch so that everyone knows what is going on. However, keep in mind that great communication skills are a two-way street – you must also be a great listener, and hear what your employees have to say.

The only way to gain respect from your staff is to be confident in your ability to run your pizza operation. You must be clear and decisive in your decision-making. Employees who sense that their owners or managers are weak or indecisive will quickly lose respect.

A good leader is actively involved in all aspects of the operation, in both the front and back of the house. You should be able to confidently perform every job function, whether that means making the pizzas, operating the cash register, washing the dishes, greeting customers or cleaning the restrooms.  This allows you to effectively direct your staff – and be credible in doing so.

An effective leader does not play favourites. Treat your employees fairly and with respect and, in return, you will gain their respect. Your operation should have a policy handbook for personnel so that your employees know what to expect when an infraction occurs.

If you set out policies and procedures for your staff, but do not follow them yourself, you are letting your staff know that you do not take your rules seriously. This means they won’t take the rules to heart.

It is crucial that you always maintain your self-control, even in extreme situations. Whether dealing with a tricky customer or a difficult staff member, always handle the situation in a calm and collected manner. Listen to both sides of the story and resolve the issue fairly.

A great leader is aware of each minute detail in his/her operation – whether it’s recognizing that a light bulb has burned out, being aware of how loud the music is playing, or checking that the oven is set at the correct temperature. You must be aware of all of the details to ensure your business is operating at its highest level. If you pay attention and care about the small details, so too will your staff.

Always take full responsibility for any mistakes made by your staff. Instead of blaming and berating the team, a good leader will work on how to prevent the situation from happening again.

Diane Chiasson, FCSI, president of Chiasson Consultants Inc., has been helping restaurant, foodservice, hospitality and retail operators increase sales for over 30 years. She is recognized as one of the best restaurant consultants in North America.  Her company provides innovative and revenue-increasing foodservice and retail merchandising programs, interior design, branding, menu engineering, marketing and promotional campaigns, and much more. Contact her at 416-926-1338, toll-free at 1-888-926-6655 or, or visit

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