January 4

Managing the Floor: Coaching Employees to Improve Performance


Tips on Coaching Employees To Improve Performance, Team Morale, and Customer Satisfaction in Your Restaurant

The restaurant industry has been in a significant transitional period for the last three years, particularly regarding staffing. 

Coming out of the labor shortage, we’ve seen an influx of new blood entering the hospitality workforce. At the same time, restaurateurs incorporated more technology and new business models to streamline operations and staffing challenges.

We’d be kidding ourselves to say there haven’t been bumps in service while navigating these changes. 

Right now, it’s more important than ever for management to take a proactive role in their team’s development and ensure things run smoothly, especially if they’re still finding their groove in this ever-changing landscape.  

We spoke with Christin Marvin, a restaurant coach and hospitality catalyst based in Tucson, Arizona, on how managers can get more involved on the floor by coaching employees to improve performance.

The Importance of Coaching Employees to Improve Performance

Once you accomplish the arduous feat of hiring someone new—the journey is nowhere near over. Management should continue monitoring employee performance to encourage the team toward business and developmental goals. 

“Coaching should be a part of everyday communication among a restaurant team,” Marvin shared. “Just as a football coach is on the sidelines, telling their team ‘good job’ when they score a play and instructing the team when they need to make adjustments, a restaurant manager should do the same when they experience an employee delivering great guest experience or see a guest in need.”

This kind of support goes a long way. Here are just a few ways restaurants can benefit from employee coaching. 

Improved Team Performance and Communication

“Coaching can help employees become self-aware, understand their strengths, and identify areas for improvement,” Marvin said. “Once they become clear on what they need to work on, they have a clearer path to improve their performance and are more engaged and motivated to do their job.” 

Investing time in performance coaching also allows open and constructive communication between management and employees. This can increase job satisfaction because it fosters a culture of trust, teamwork, and collaboration within the organization.

“When employees feel their efforts are acknowledged, and their development is supported, it can boost morale, leading to a positive work environment for all,” Marvin explained. 

Decrease Employee Turnover

Creating a healthy, enjoyable work environment can save you the time and money associated with training and recruiting. 

“The average cost of losing an employee in the restaurant business is around $5,000,” Marvin said. “Just imagine how much money a restaurant could save by strengthening their leader’s coaching skills.” 

With appropriate performance reviews, training, and coaching—employees feel supported in their professional development, which builds loyalty and increases the likelihood that employees will stick around long-term. 

Turnover is one of the biggest headaches when running a restaurant business. Taking time to monitor and guide your employees can help increase your retention rates and should be a vital part of any successful hiring strategy

Enhanced Guest Experience

Everything you just read immediately and directly affects your overall guest experience—and in a critical way for your business. 

“Well-coached and trained employees are more likely to provide an excellent experience for their guests,” Marvin said. “In turn, leading to more word of mouth marketing by the guest, which aids in the restaurant’s success.”

Additionally, the benefits of supporting your team to be the best versions of themselves at work can result in higher online ratings and better customer retention and loyalty—all critical components to growing a restaurant business. 

Tips for Coaching and Developing Employees

It’s one thing to know that all of this is good for business—it’s entirely another to put into practice and do it constructively. Marvin offered some helpful, top-level tips for managers just getting started or those who would like advice on optimizing their coaching. 

  1. Implement Manager Coaching

    Let’s face it: providing constructive criticism isn’t everybody’s strong suit. To get the most out of employee coaching, you need to start at the top. “Coaching is a learned skill that should be a part of every manager’s training,” Marvin explained. “Becoming an excellent coach requires time, dedication, and learning from mistakes, and the approach varies for each individual employee.” Lead by example. Perform one-on-one reviews of your management team and coach them to be leaders in your company while keeping them accountable. If you need help getting started, a specialist like Marvin is a great way to organize and develop your company’s performance management. 
  2. Stay Present and Consistent

    Coaching will only work in your favor if you or your management team stay consistent and attentive to what’s happening in your company. 

    “The best way for hospitality leaders to monitor performance is to be mentally and physically present on the floor with their team,” Marvin said. “It’s also important to take moments to step back, observe, and listen to your employees when interacting with their guests and teammates.”

    Marvin continued to state that monitoring an employee isn’t just about overseeing performance but also their work environment. Quickly address anything that might obstruct your employee’s success, like a lack of cleaning supplies, broken equipment, and procedures that need adjusting. 
  3. Consider Group Coaching Opportunities 

    Hospitality work is all about teamwork. Doing group exercises and meetings is essential, too. For example, if you want to talk about de-escalation techniques, this would benefit everyone and could be done effectively in a team setting. 

    Marvin shared that company-wide announcements or messages can quickly be made in a group setting, like during staff or pre-shift meetings. 

    That said, if you need to address something sensitive or personal to an individual team member, that is best handled privately in a one-on-one meeting. 

Creating a Performance Review and Coaching Plan

A formal performance coaching plan is critical to getting the most out of the process. For one, it creates documentation that helps you stay consistent when training managers while giving them something to refer back to and follow in their management style. 

Marvin shared that when helping clients organize performance reviews and coaching plans, they first define the responsibilities of each role in the company. This creates a starting place for evaluation—like whether the employee is performing the duties and responsibilities required of them. 

Adding to Marvin’s tip, it’s also helpful to establish a company mission and value statement so management can further evaluate if the employee’s performance aligns with the company culture. 

Next, create a form that you and your management team can use to highlight the strengths of particular employees and areas for improvement based on the role. 

The form should also include a section defining the action plan for coaching and follow-up meetings to monitor progress.   

“Training your management on how and when to use these forms will set them up for success,” Marvin shared. “Additionally, there should be a discussion around which behaviors need to be documented and, if necessary, result in termination.” 

An Employee Performance and Coaching plan might document the following: 

  • Company mission and value statements
  • Requirements and responsibilities of each role 
  • Frequency of performance review meetings
  • Guidelines for employee write-ups and termination 
  • A form for management to follow when reviewing employee performance, including sections to document: 
    • Areas in which the employee excels, with examples
    • Areas that require improvement and outlining what success would look like 
    • Agreed upon coaching plan
    • Dates for follow-up meetings to monitor progress. 

One of the most beautiful aspects of the restaurant industry is that all are welcome. Anyone can start from the bottom and work up to the absolute top with guidance, training, and support. 

As an owner or manager, you play a significant role in the success of your employees. By investing and formalizing your performance coaching plan, you can ensure that it benefits everyone involved (including the industry at large). 

If you’d like guidance to hone how performance coaching is done within your establishment and help create a plan, feel free to connect with Christin Marvin through email at christinlmarvin@gmail.com or on LinkedIn @christin-marvin.

Additionally, you can check out her website to learn more about how she partners with restaurant leaders through one-on-one coaching, group coaching, and leadership workshops. For more restaurant leadership tips, tune into her podcast, No Hesitations.  

About the author


Ashley McNally likes to cook, loves to bake, and is always dreaming of her next meal. With over 13 years of experience working in various roles within a restaurant — McNally has made a home in hospitality.


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