Creating the right culture in a restaurant is vital for smooth functioning of work and ensuring accountability in restaurant operations. When your staff takes responsibility for the work that has been allocated to them as well as for their mistakes, it helps in building mutual trust. 

A lot of restaurant managers and owners fear the thought of holding their staff accountable because of the high turnover rates in the industry. Unfortunately, that leads to an environment where employees do not respect rules and cannot be held responsible for any actions.

To add to that, the current circumstances where there is a lack of stability in most restaurant businesses due to reduced changing COVID19 restrictions has made it absolutely essential to cultivate accountability. This requires letting go of old methods and embracing new strategies in 2021.

Just like a well-oiled machine performs effortlessly, your restaurant can prosper if your staff fulfills their responsibilities and delivers what is expected of them. So how do you hold your restaurant staff accountable for their performance? Here are 8 proven ways to do so:

1. Start from the top

As rightly put by Ronald Wilson Reagan, “The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.” As a restaurant owner, you are the leader of your staff and you must first exhibit the changes you expect from your staff.

Accountability starts with you, and only when you start taking responsibility for your own actions will you be able to expect the same from your staff. For instance, are you visiting your restaurant regularly and fulfilling all your duties? Are you spending time understanding the business’s needs and your staff’s needs? Do you visit the kitchen regularly?

Once you start holding yourself accountable, it creates a domino effect and your staff follows suit. You must lead by example if you want your staff to be invested in the restaurant’s growth. Watching you be diligent towards your work is a firm reminder for your staff to do the same. This also increases their work productivity and leads to better customer service. 

2. Set clear expectations

The best way to ensure restaurant staff accountability is to start things on the right foot. When you clearly define responsibilities for each team member, it reduces confusion among team members regarding their role in the organization. In addition, let them know what you expect of them so they can self-evaluate their performance.

Especially during these uncertain times when you expect employees to multi-task and take up tasks outside their work profile whenever necessary, setting clear expectations goes a long way in creating a sense of responsibility in your staff. Expecting them to punch above their weight without even clearly communicating it to them is unfair.

Create an onboarding program along with a list of goals so every staff member knows what they will be evaluated for. Defining their goals gives them clear direction and encourages them to stay accountable for their work. For instance, having clear rules about shift timings and leave policy ensures employees follow them strictly and prevents you from getting disappointed from a last-minute absence.

3. Appoint the right manager

Any restaurant owner who has been in the business long enough knows the importance of promoting from within. When looking for a restaurant manager or general manager from within your existing staff, you need to ensure they have the necessary skills to lead a team and get the best out of them.

American restaurateur Joe Bastianich says, “Being general manager is like being the de facto owner. It’s like wearing the crown of ‘Restaurant Man’ without being ‘Restaurant Man.’ You’re trying to run the business, but you’re running the ranch without riding the big horse.” A general manager’s job is not just to delegate tasks but also to get the entire staff to work in unison. 

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Knowing how to nurture and leverage the bond between your staff is a skill every general manager must possess. It is also the responsibility of the general manager to understand their staff’s strengths and weaknesses so as to ensure every staff member is delegated the right way. This creates the perfect environment for the staff to be fully accountable for their roles.

4. Equip them with the necessary tools: 

A lot of mistakes in the restaurant industry are caused due to bad management of inventory causing wastage or lack of supplies. You need to ensure your staff has a guaranteed fail-safe way of managing the inventory and transfers to other outlets. Investing in an automated system reduces human errors and is a guaranteed fail-safe way to reduce food wastage as well. 

With the right software, you can easily hold the right team member accountable for their mistakes. For instance, with the EagleOwl software you can simplify the process of entering recipes, monitoring tops SKU’s and determining expected consumption. This makes it easy for your staff to order supplies accurately.

As seen in this image, having full control over the requirements for a recipe and sub-recipe reduces the chances of mistakes in placing orders for supplies for the restaurant. Moreover, your staff will know exactly what to order in bulk quantities. The software offers detailed statistics which makes it difficult for your staff to not take accountability for their mistakes.

Since everything is well-documented in the software and there is a clear record of daily sales, it will be upto the staff to take responsibility for their role in the mistakes. Using an inventory management software relieves you from having unnecessary discussions related to the consumption and reduces the chances of pilferage & theft as well.

5. Create detailed checklists 

A lot of restaurants lack organization because there is no way to track work performance. Do you often notice a set of tasks is not performed because the staff members forgot about it? There is a clear absence of accountability because staff members feel nobody is checking whether or not the task has been done.

Clear and precise task management is one of the best ways to create accountability in your restaurant staff. With an exhaustive checklist that includes a detailed list of tasks with names of the staff, you can eliminate ambiguity regarding everything that needs to be done on a daily basis for smooth operations.

For example, if the cleaning staff has been instructed to clean the oven every week and the countertops every night, the best way to ensure the job is done is to print out a weekly checklist with space for staff names and status of the task to be entered manually once the assigned jobs are done. This way, whoever skips work will be clearly highlighted. The fear of their mistake being brought to everyone’s attention ensures staff members stay on track.

6. Make your staff feel inclusive

Improving employee morale has become important now more than ever. In these unprecedented times where restaurant staff are concerned about their own safety and about the safety of their jobs, boosting their morale by appreciating their good performance helps in increasing their loyalty towards the business.

Regularly engage with your restaurant staff and seek updates about work and management. This makes them feel valued and makes them more involved in the restaurant’s welfare. Moreover, you may end up getting some very valuable advice from them since they are the ones in the battlefield dealing with your customers everyday. 

Having monthly one-on-one meetings helps you stay connected with your staff and identify potential problems that you may have overlooked. Implementing their ideas will make them happier and encourage them to perform their duties more sincerely. It makes them feel they are a part of a family and it’s their equal responsibility to do things that benefit the restaurant. 

7. Reward your star performers

Although you own the restaurant, your star performers ensure your guests keep coming back. So doesn’t it make sense to nurture them? Identifying your most hard-working staff members and using their performance as a standard measure serves a dual purpose – it encourages them to keep doing good work and inspires other staff members to up their game.

Looking at the low retention rates in the restaurant industry, losing a valuable and sincere staff member can be disheartening for any restaurant owner. Make sure you show your best performers that their contributions to the team are appreciated. After all, these staff members are the ones who can motivate others to produce better results. 

You can also create rewards for important work achievements so employees stay dedicated and accountable. For instance, offer rewards for attaining the ‘Employee of the Month’ position and define performance measures to achieve the reward. This breeds healthy competition amongst your staff and inspires them to be better accountable for their work in order to achieve rewards. 

8. Be a part of the time

Initially, all restaurant owners are passionate and visit the kitchen very religiously. Over time this changes. When restaurant owners start staying away from the kitchen, it creates a disconnect between them and their staff. Their knowledge of what happens on the floor starts diminishing, which reduces the chances of employees staying accountable. 

When you stay connected to your restaurant by making visits regularly, it shows your staff that you are deeply involved in the business and it creates a sense of importance. At the same time, you’ll be able to identify conflicts within the team and resolve them before they turn into a full-blown issue that creates a chaotic situation.

Don’t hesitate from rolling up your sleeves and helping them with their tasks occasionally on a busy day. Not doing so can earn you the reputation of being the boss that doesn’t care about his staff and only keeps delegating work. Restaurants are run by people, for people – so it makes total sense for you to behave like a part of the team for its efficient functioning.


Improving staff accountability in restaurant operations is not an overnight job. It takes time to create the right environment for your staff and to build a workplace culture that promotes transparency. Start by modelling the behaviours that you want to see in your restaurant staff. This encourages them to follow in your footsteps and start taking accountability for their work. Use these tips and watch your restaurant culture become happier and healthier.

To learn how EagleOwl can help in improving your back office efficiency and make inventory management easier for your staff, request for a demo today!