How to Lead a Team to the Top & Become a World-Renowned Bar
Big ambitions for your bar? Moe Aljaff, Founder of Two Schmucks, No.7 World Best Bar, shares pro tips to help lead your team and bar to the top!
Author: Moe Aljaff, Founder of Two Schmucks
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
As the Founder of Two Schmucks, once a tiny bar in an overlooked Barcelona neighbourhood, now No.7 in the World’s 50 Best Bars, I can safely say anything’s possible, no matter what position your bar and team is in now.
But how exactly did we get there? Teamwork. Without a great team, you can’t build a great bar, so here are my top tips for leading your bar team to become one of the best in the industry:
FURTHER TIPS FOR HIRING GREAT BAR STAFF
Hiring the right bar staff is, of course, a crucial step in the journey to becoming one of the world's best bars. Looking for individuals who embody your bar's values, possess a genuine passion for hospitality, and demonstrate a keen eye for detail.
During the hiring process, prioritise candidates who lean more towards EQ (emotional intelligence) – everything technical can be taught. A great way to identify this is by asking interview questions that will test the candidate’s EQ.
- Tell me about a time you faced an ethical dilemma at work. How did you handle it?
- Tell me about a time a customer complained about your service, how did you deal with it?
Diversity is also an important consideration. Individuals from different cultural and professional backgrounds with varying skillsets will bring a range of perspectives and talents to your bar, enhancing creativity and innovation. A great blend of personalities and expertise will contribute to an engaging environment for both your team and guests.
- Craft a compelling job description: Write a detailed and engaging job description that highlights unique aspects of your bar and the qualities you’re looking for.
- Explore your existing network and job sites: This can include current employees! As they’re a great fit, they are likely to know others in the same profession with similarities that would make them a good match for your company culture. Job aggregating sites can be helpful too, however, they have such a huge range of candidates, that it can take some time to filter out the right ones.
- Look for relevant bartending experience: Seek candidates who have a strong foundation in cocktail making, understanding of flavour, knowledge of different spirits, and familiarity with bar operations.
- Check references: Always contact the candidate’s references. This step can give you valuable insights into their reliability, attitude, and past experiences.
NEXT STEPS TO BUILDING A WINNING BAR TEAM
Once you’ve the above foundations in place, it’s important to continue training and upskilling your team. From offering regular training opportunities to nurturing your relationship with each member, the below leadership and management tactics will help build, motivate and lead your team to the next level:
Build a Team of Bar Experts: Offer Training Opportunities
Invest in continuous training and learning opportunities to enable staff to deepen their knowledge of mixology, spirits, and cocktail trends. Organize regular workshops and invite industry experts to share their expertise.
Diageo Bar Academy has great online training modules to help keep your team on top of their bar knowledge. This includes:
By keeping your team well-informed and up to date, they can offer valuable recommendations to your guests, enhancing the overall experience.
Showcase Bar Team Skills and Creativity
Provide your team with opportunities to showcase their skills and creativity. Allow them to experiment with new recipes and develop signature cocktails that reflect your bar's unique identity. This not only keeps your menu fresh and exciting but also empowers your team members to take ownership of their craft.
Identify your team’s individual passions or areas of expertise. You could ask each team member to run a training session for the rest of the team members, educating them on this particular topic or skill. This offers value to each member of the team, builds on their strengths and helps create a growth culture.
But remember – learning isn’t just about technical skills and knowledge. Learning can extend to etiquette, hosting, management, sustainability, finance and wellbeing. The idea is to build a team of technically proficient experts with great all-rounder skills that will help create memorable experiences for your guests. By fostering an environment of growth and learning, you can cultivate a team of experts who are passionate about their work, leading your bar to the pinnacle of success.
Create a supportive environment within your bar to foster a cohesive, motivated and happy team
Develop relationships with your team members built on trust, respect, and open communication. Regularly check in with them individually to understand their goals, challenges, and aspirations. This could include setting up short, informal 1-2-1 meetings with your staff every week.
By actively listening to their concerns and offering guidance, you can empower them to overcome obstacles and reach their potential.
Additionally, celebrate the achievements of your team members. Recognize their hard work, and contributions publicly. This could be through calling out their achievements in team meetings or group emails and giving prizes when they hit targets, for example.
This reinforces a culture of appreciation and camaraderie. It’s also important to encourage collaboration and teamwork. This helps strengthen relationships, inevitably leading to a happier team and higher standards.
- Ensure your team understands the why. When you clearly communicate your bar’s mission, and you all share the same goal, this can make a huge impact.
- Invest in continuous training and learning opportunities.
- Develop relationships with your team members built on trust, respect, and open communication.
- Diversity is an important consideration. Individuals from different cultural and professional backgrounds with varying skillsets will bring a range of perspectives and talents to your bar.
- When hiring new bartenders, search for those who have a strong foundation in cocktail making and a deep understanding of flavour.