Six ingredients for effective communication in hospitality

For Restaurant Associates Chef Einav Gefen, "clear communication is key to the success of any operation."

It’s also the key to building a sustainable future for hospitality. The past year has put extraordinary pressure on businesses and their employees, with many left understaffed and overworked. Now, as the industry enters its busiest time of the year, how teams communicate with each other is more important than ever. 

Chef Einav explains: “Communication is often the achilles heel of mistakes, misunderstandings and things not going right. In the kitchen, where stress is already high, we can't afford for communication to break down."

We spoke to six more chefs and experts to find out how they establish meaningful and effective communication, ensuring teams work together seamlessly in any situation: 


Inclusive Communication Matters

“People can downplay inclusivity, saying we’re all the same. We do have commonalities and those are important, but we come from different places and our cultures are different. Everybody is not the same and that is ok. Once we realise that we can do the work to learn about each other and be able to appreciate those differences. It’s just really treating people as people.”

  • Chef Erika Durham, Restaurant Consultant and Project Lead at Urban Juncture. Check out her recent Take20 with us here


Good communication takes time and effort 

"The best way to create a nurturing environment at work is to acknowledge your team's importance beyond their role. Open communication, especially with non-communicators, is built over time. To encourage your team to open up, it helps to share parts of yourself, and show interest in the people you work with."

Provide transparency around goals and expectations  

“Without transparent communication, you can’t create an environment in which everyone knows what’s expected of them or how to achieve it. It’s important to help staff understand the role that they play in achieving business goals - this comes from building strong relationships with them. When a team understands each other, you can better decide instructions and predict reactions.” 

Candice Adams, Academic Operations Manager, Capsicum Culinary Studio

Be mindful of language barriers 

“It’s important to be able to communicate effectively with team members who don't speak English as their first language. When giving feedback, try using the word ‘correct’ or ‘good’ as these are some of the first words learned in English, so they will catch on to what you’re saying more quickly. 

“Ask questions differently too. For example, you could ask ‘was your day good or not good?’. Closing up the question like this gives your team permission to say that their day wasn’t so good. That leads to a healthy dialogue. This works for your team that *does* speak English as a first language too!”

  • Rachael Nemeth, CEO & Co-Founder of Opus. For more advice like this from Rachael, read this article.

Share meals together to strengthen team relationships

“We make sure every meal is period is mixed, so front of house sit down with back of house. We share lunches and dinners, and in that time we get to learn more about each other. It’s amazing. We make sure it’s fully integrated; we have staff parties together. We work and we laugh together.” 

Chef and restaurateur Chris Galvin, co-owner of Galvin Restaurants

Motivate your team with intentional feedback

"I've learned if you approach people only when they're doing something wrong, every time they see you, or hear your voice, they think it's because you have something negative to say.

"Go up to your team members once a day and tell them something they're doing really well. Another time, give some constructive feedback. If you do this you'll find they won't bristle when they see you coming.”

Chef Dina Altieri, Director of Culinary Enterprises at UMOM New Day Centers

Without good communication, a kitchen cannot truly function. By changing the way you communicate with your team, you can change the culture of your workplace to be more positive, inclusive and fair. 

Above all, it’s important to listen to your employees. At #FairKitchens, we developed ‘An hour for us’ to help you initiate two-way, open communication with your team. Get started here or find out more in module three of our free leadership training.