In Teal bars, projects can happen spontaneously, organically and informally. People can be working with many projects in parallel and constantly rearrange their priorities based on importance and urgency or if they are simply just a fun task to do at that time (within reason of course). Companies like Google has had their “20% rule” where workers can use part of their time to work on a project that interests them and maybe crossovers different departments. Could it be possible to designate a few extra paid hours for a bartender every now and then, to work on something they would like to learn or improve? When given time and space, people tend to organically come up with new innovations, new ingredients to work with or come up with an inspiration to focus on a specific interest they have (whiskey, tea, coffee, a new prep technique). The new activities can be outside the workplace as well. You never know if someone is inspired to raise interest for a common hobby like a book club, field trip or sports.
Teams and groups can form organically to run a project and then break down and rearrange when it’s finished. The lack of formalities of project planning can free up a tremendous amount of time (writing the plan, getting approval, reporting on progress, explaining variations, rescheduling and re-estimating, politics and even the blame game if time or budget is exceeded). When there is no formal timeline, no budgets and no-one looking over your shoulder, you can focus on the task in hand and be more efficient. Of course, it is wise to plan ahead what you aim to do and how much time is wise to use in certain projects and you are responsible for that.
Since prioritizing projects is not just on one managers shoulders, the collective intelligence of the team will naturally react and take on tasks based on their importance. One way to do this, is to keep a viral log book (daily reports with problems, out of stock products, maintenance, guest satisfaction, overtime payment, broken equipment, new purchases etc.) and mark down every time a problem or an opportunity occurs. Then, anybody can volunteer to tackle a problem and join forces with another team member by marking down their initials next to the note. Usually, the ones who are being affected by this problem or opportunity the most, will take upon the task and analyze the situation. If the task is not acknowledged after some time, it probably means it was not important after all. Or perhaps it comes up again and then someone picks it up on their to-do list. However, a good thing to do is to revisit the log book every now and then, and gently remind people if after a few weeks (or days, depending on the importance) they haven’t take upon a task they had promised to tackle. Keeping one’s promise is respectable, but so is asking for help or acknowledging one’s short comings.
By enabling team members to take upon a project they feel to suit them, they can find outlets to express their talents and gifts their primary role might not require. They can develop an authentic sense of ownership and responsibility over the venue by seeing their capabilities influence and shape the place they call their second home.
After the basic and vital activities of the venue are covered and the bar is running somewhat smoothly, other projects start lifting their heads. Here are few examples of projects I’ve seen done during my bartending career:
- Taking part in cocktail competitions and getting to know the brand reps can suddenly grow into re-occurring invitations to create cocktails with and for the said brand. The close partnership with a brand is a good way to catch some product knowledge and help with creativity, but it can also generate more revenue for the bar, since the brands quite often initiate and organize different events and theme parties with their collaboration bars
- Collaborations with brands can also lead into creating drinks on the menu, that are made with a unique process or with special ingredients, which can enrich your bars offerings
- Some bars and restaurants create their own product lines under their brand. Sometimes it’s part of the original business model to expand this way, but sometimes it is a spontaneous idea of few colleagues. Designating few hours every week or month towards resale products such as sauces, sodas or even liqueurs can be a project to consider with your team
- Taking the next step to improve the drink standards, menus or the quality of the service are definitely things to take on your plate, when the basics are covered. You don’t have to be running after every trend, but there is always room for improvement and to update the bar
- You can also consider collaborating with your local vendors that don’t directly work in this industry. The possibilities are endless, from local honey and fruit farmers to tea and clothing companies. You can even reach out to your local artists!