The Epiphany

Epiphany: noun- a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.”

I suppose there is nothing more simple or commonplace than scrolling through Facebook.  I was scrolling through Facebook today trying to decide what to write about for today’s post when I ran across a video my friend Drew posted.  The description said it was something people who manage employees should watch.  I have been reading and writing quite a bit about that topic lately so I decided to give it a spin.  In one video I found the most concise explanation of a phenomenon I have been trying to put my finger on for a while.

You only need to watch the video above if:

You manage people


You work for someone that manages people

This most likely means you.

Three key points stand out to me in this video that can be applied to the restaurant industry:

1)    Financial incentives only work for tasks based in mechanical skills.  With tasks that require even basic cognitive skill, financial incentives actually harm performance.

2)    If you do not pay people enough, they won’t be motivated.  The best use of money as a motivator is to provide enough that it is not an issue.

3)    The three factors that increase performance and personal satisfaction are: autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

One of the largest reasons the restaurant industry is woefully behind the times in maximizing productivity and achieving peak performance from their staff is they refuse to acknowledge the lessons of other industries.  The social scientists have been studying human behavior for hundreds of years.  Unfortunately, restaurateurs seem to think none of this applies to them and their employees.  When the research is not specific to restaurants, owners and managers often feel that the insight cannot be used to motivate their staffs.  This fails to acknowledge that human nature is universal regardless of occupation.

Over the next few days, my posts will be focused on this video and how the information within it should fundamentally change how restaurants are run.   I will make the case as to why this research is applicable to restaurants.  This will explain why so many seemingly brilliant programs to increase sales fail to do so.  I will also explain why it is critical for companies to understand what does motivate employees in order to achieve the results they want.  I will address the importance training and opportunities for ongoing education.  Finally, I will look at the power of creating a common goal and shared purpose.

I have always wondered why I derive so much satisfaction from serving.  Today it was explained to me.  I find autonomy, the drive for mastery, and a purpose in serving.  What is more important is that there is a way for every server to be able to do the same.  There is also a way for managers and restaurant executives to unlock this drive in their employees.  This will be an epiphany moment for anyone who chooses to embrace it.

Postscript:  The series is now completed.  Links to each of the six parts can be found above.  In each part I referred back to this post for two reasons.  The first reason is that I don’t think you can fully appreciate the other posts without first watching the video.  The second reason is that on a daily basis I see search engine traffic that are specific questions managers  are looking for answers to.  If that is how you came across this site, I have an offer.  The first five managers who email me with a specific question will receive a specific answer.  I can’t do this indefinitely, but I appreciate you taking the effort to try to improve your skills.  I am glad you came to this site and I want to help.  Send me a message at and I will try to answer your question.  You will remain anonymous, but you might inspire a post that helps others as well.

Tips²: Tips For Improving Your Tips, the new book from the author of The Manager’s Office, teaches the skills of exceptional servers that will increase customer satisfaction and dramatically improve restaurant sales.  This book is more than a server training manual.  It is the secret to teaching your staff to enjoy selling and give your guests the experience that will create raving fans.  To learn more about the book, visit  Use the coupon code “MANAGER” to save 20% at the checkout.


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About David Hayden

David Hayden is a restaurant marketing and training consultant based in Kansas City, MO. He writes a series of 9 blogs collectively known as The Hospitality Formula Network and is the author of "Tips2: Tips For Improving Your Tips" and "Building Your Brand With Facebook"

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