Stand-Up Training: Effective Communication in Food Service

Food manager praises employee for good work. Effective communication is at the heart of every food establishment, and it starts with you — the manager.

Empower Employees Through Food Safety Training

Good communication is at the heart of every food establishment, and it starts with you — the manager. Share your expectations about communication with your employees. Teach them how to communicate effectively with customers, with each other, and with management.

Learning Objectives

You may choose to read these learning objectives with your employees as a part of the stand-up training.

After this training, employees will be able to:

  • Identify what things they need to communicate to each other or to a manager
  • Demonstrate how to communicate effectively with a customer
  • Demonstrate how to communicate effectively with each other
  • Use any processes, technologies, or resources provided by the establishment to help communication

The Facts

You may choose to read these facts with your employees as a part of the stand-up training.

  • Poor communication can cause many problems in a food establishment.
  • There are many scenarios when we need to communicate with customers, each other, and management. These may include explaining policies or menu items, placing a special order, scheduling a new reservation, requesting a shift swap, reporting an equipment problem, giving feedback to management, etc.
  • Body language and other non-verbal cues can have a big impact on communication.
  • Practice active listening by focusing on what the other person is saying, asking clarifying questions, and summarizing the conversation at the end.
  • When talking with someone who doesn’t speak your language well, be patient, use simple words, and speak slowly.
  • When communicating in a noisy environment, don’t shout. Speak loudly and make sure the person you’re talking to is looking at you.

Training Activities

Choose the activities that will be most beneficial for your employees. Modify them as needed to fit the training needs of your establishment.

Communication Scenarios

Discuss: What are some common things we have to communicate at our establishment? Make sure you talk about scenarios that involve talking to customers, talking to coworkers, and talking to management.

Explain: If you have specific expectations about communication, explain them. For example, you might expect employees to tell a manager when they’re feeling sick, if equipment is malfunctioning, if they’ve noticed signs of a pest infestation, or if someone has an allergic reaction in your establishment.

Share (optional): If you have written policies about what employees should do if they’re feeling sick, need to swap shifts, etc., share them with your staff. It’s a good idea to have an electronic version of these documents that your workers can reference anytime they have a question.

If you use technologies to help communication at your establishment, like a scheduling app, messaging app, online feedback form, or point of sale system, make sure your employees have access and know how to use them.

Customer Roleplay

Practice: Ask for two volunteers or divide the group into pairs so everyone can practice. One person will pretend to be the customer while the other acts as the food worker. Describe a scenario you want them to roleplay that’s relevant to your establishment. For example, you could tell the customer to pretend they have a food allergy and ask the worker what items on the menu are safe for them. After the first roleplay, have the employees switch roles and do it again.

Teach: Give some tips about how to communicate effectively with customers. For example, smiling and making eye contact are powerful positive non-verbal cues. Not looking at someone while they’re talking can have a negative impact on the conversation. Also, practicing active listening can be especially important when talking with customers.

Coach: Listen to how your employees talk to the “customers.” Watch for any negative body language or non-verbal cues, such as looking away from the person when they’re talking. Praise good behavior and offer correction as necessary.

Staff Roleplay

Practice: Ask for two volunteers or divide the group into pairs. In this roleplay, both employees will act like food workers. Describe a relevant scenario you want them to practice. For example, you could tell one food worker to pretend they just received a special order from a customer. The second worker will pretend to be in charge of preparing the order.

You could also have one employee act like a manager while the other acts like a food worker. Ask them to roleplay a scenario where you would expect a worker to report something to the manager, like an equipment malfunction.

Teach: Remind your employees that shouting isn’t a good way to communicate in a noisy environment. It’s harder to understand words that are shouted. A better way is to get the person’s attention and speak your message loudly while they’re looking at you. Gestures can also help get the point across.

Coach: Pay attention to how your employees communicate with one another during the roleplay. Praise good behavior and give constructive feedback.

Following Up

As a manager, you play a big role in how your employees communicate. Lead by example by giving your employees opportunities to communicate. Don’t always wait for them to come to you first.

Strive to help your employees feel comfortable approaching you with questions, problems, and even ideas for improvement. Whenever you talk with them, practice the things you taught them about communicating effectively.

Pay attention to how your employees speak to customers, each other, and management. Praise good behavior and give constructive feedback when necessary. As needed, review this training with your employees.

Training Resources

The Business Communications course by Saylor Academy offers some good tips for communicating effectively in the food service industry.

Did you use this stand-up training in your establishment? We’d love to get your feedback! Take a minute to do our feedback survey.

Submit Feedback

— Jessica Pettit

Updated: 02/25/2021 — 2:42 pm
Food Safety Blog © 2015 Frontier Theme