Sometimes, you walk into other people’s venues and think: how are their staff so well behaved? Why is the place so clean? What are their secrets?

Managing a bar isn’t easy. Among juggling stock, budgets, customers and the long list of other managerial priorities, you also have to manage your staff – and managing people is the toughest job of all.

According to founder of online hospitality support hub Profitable Hospitality, Ken Burgin, a happy team is the key to a productive team.

“If they are excited and enthusiastic about coming to work, the difference in their productivity will amaze you. If they are enjoying work, then the energy they bring to a team will do wonders,” Mr Burgin said. “It isn’t easy to get that out of people though – you have to be willing to put time, effort and a bit of humility into your job if you want them to be on top of their game.”

So what exactly do you need to do? Here, Ken Burgin shares his top hacks that might just turn your bar team into the best you’ve had:

1. Hire for personality, keep for skills

Anything can be taught within the hospitality context – actually, everything is learnt on the job in a hospitality context. So when you are looking to hire, don’t limit yourself to selection based on skills and experience only.

Are they energetic, or a bit tired of the job? Are they naturally gracious and happy, or reserved? Are they eager to know about the business, or just really needing the work?

Create your own list of ‘must have’ personality traits that you know work well in your team environment, and use them as a guide when hiring new staff.

2. Be approachable and keep communication open

Late nights, long shifts, busy service times and challenging customers can all wear down a team’s resistance, especially if they feel they are being treated unfairly. Grouching about cleaning or shifts is usually an indicator of a bigger problem – so open up the lines of communication for them to always speak with you.

Instigate a weekly meeting with your staff, and if you can, regular one-on-ones for anything they might be worried to say in a public forum. If you don’t like using your personal mobile number, have a work mobile that they are free to text with issues at any time. Whilst this may feel like a constant connection with work – it will prevent issues from festering and becoming bigger.

3. Have some KPI rewards or friendly competitions in place

Like it or not, people work harder when they know there is a reward in sight. If your team works off Key Performance Indicators (KPI), have a prize on offer for whoever hits their target or goals first. If you don’t work off KPI’s, then set up monthly competitions to promote a certain product.

Rewards shouldn’t just be monetary bonuses, either – why not treat them to a massage, or a fancy dinner for two? It will feel more personal, and a lot more meaningful than a few extra bucks in their pocket.

4. Ask THEM for help

It’s been proven that people respond between to positive lines of questioning than negative. So, instead of asking ‘what are some problems you would like us to work on?’, try asking, ‘what are some new projects we could work on?’

Your staff are the grass roots of your business and will probably know better than you when it comes to the improvements that need to be made. Often they will have innovative and exciting new ideas on how to improve your venue – you just need to ask.

5. Free training and education

Team morale, excitement, and new skills are the secret herbs and spices behind a happy and productive team of bar staff. Investing in training for your staff is a win/win situation: you get new skills behind your bar, and they gain new skills to add to their resume.

From management courses to product training, there is always room for more learning within the world of hospitality! Be proactive to find out which brands offer courses, and even what workshops or sessions you can organise yourself.

A happy and healthy team will always bring you greater rewards that one that is overworked and underpaid. Be a fair boss, and expect a fair team in return.