How to train your employees to be our future hospitality business leaders?

Your Employees are our future business leaders

I make no excuses for yet again bringing into focus your employees. Within the hospitality sector they are a vital piece of the puzzle to make your business a resounding success. They will make or break your customer experience; they can bring you business or drive it away. Your employees are the face of your brand and business; they reflect your values and culture every day and need to be highly valued. 


At the very essence of your employee ethos should be the idea of developing future leaders within your company, from the ground up. If you give all your employees the opportunity to learn and grow, you will, without a doubt, establish a culture that enables all to flourish and give your business a strong boost. Clearly, some will take the opportunities and some won’t, that is human nature. You are seeking the one percent that believes in you, your business and what you are offering.

 “Training your employees to be the best isn’t a cost, it’s an investment in the future of your business, and your job is to get the best return on that investment.”

If you can develop for your business a program that allows your employees the opportunities for self-improvement, you will set yourself apart from the majority. Within such a diverse industry such as hospitality, the opportunities are seemingly endless, and the skills set required for managers, owners and business operators are vast. Provide an equality of opportunity platform to all your employees, at any level, to be able to advance themselves by allowing them to take courses and certifications. Many of these can be funded through grants and/or delivered in-house, while they carry out their day to day duties. Even if you have to invest financially or through allowing some employees paid time off for studying, if the course they are taking is relevant, the return on investment will benefit you. 

 What makes a great hospitality business leader?

In developing your program of self-development, whether for you or your employees, it should allow for and identify the following five skills: innovation, vision, inner values, inspiration and communication. These for me are critical leadership skills required within the hospitality industry to be a strong leader.



You and your employees have to work hard to be more innovative. It’s important that you provide ways within your business to allow employees to improve. You should encourage your team to seek innovative solutions to everyday tasks in all areas and be open to these new ideas. Innovation should help your people to step out of their comfort zones, allowing them to analyse their own strengths and weaknesses. Although not all innovations will work, some may even be risky, and mistakes will be made. The key element is to learn from these errors, empower your team and people that they won’t be judged on these mistakes but how they develop the solutions.


Innovation is about learning. If you are going to develop robust and successful leaders within your organisation, you must teach your people to continually push themselves. Be innovative in how you learn, either through reading, observing, attending courses or seminars, or through asking questions. Don’t just confine your learning to specifics for the industry, think outside the box. Your leaders have to be able to do sales, marketing, HR, PR, customer service and much more. If you empower your employees to just improve one thing every day, that’s 365 things a year, consider what affect all those improvements will have on your business.



It goes without mentioning that you have to have a clear vision and objective of what you or your employees want to achieve. Therefore it is imperative that you provide the vision and inspire your people to create their own ability to develop theirs. Great leaders will be able to allow everyone involved within the business to clearly see the vision of the future and trust it can be achieved.

Inner Values

Due to the nature of the hospitality industry, with its long and unsociable hours, I have heard many times people who work within it say how they like the family feel of particular workplaces. As you develop your leaders, you need to emphasise the importance of values, almost creating a home from home within your business. Know and nurture their strengths and respect their colleagues. Teach them to recognise and nurture talent and develop others to achieve their potential. 


It’s important to try and establish, as best you can, a process of working towards the ultimate goal of work-life balance. Provide employees with the tools and ability to focus on the tasks at hand when at work and spend quality time with family when at home. It is essential that you try to avoid upsetting this balance. Consider your values regarding your employees’ work-life balance. There may be times where you need to ask them to work at short notice, which may disrupt their home-life. It is important that you are mindful of this. Granted things happen and sometimes it’s unavoidable. It is when it becomes the habit and a regular occurrence, as it does in many hospitality businesses, that you create problems. 



If you inspire your team and they, in turn, inspire their peers, you will have a business that will be unstoppable and achieve all you want. Encourage your employees to provide input, not be afraid to speak out and give you feedback or new ideas. Have them share the vision and goals, allow them to make mistakes but inspire them to learn from them and support them to grow. If you inspire your team, they won’t feel the need to ask all the time about what they need to do or what is expected of them and will be more successful at achieving your desired outcomes.



Within the hospitality sector, strong communication is vital to the efficient running of your business and therefore an essential attribute of your leaders and employees. The ability to communicate at all levels and in a variety of formats is an important skill that needs to be developed. But communication isn’t just about giving orders, or telling people about your business or broadcasting your message. It also includes listening; in fact being a great listener is probably what sets apart the great communicators, as through listening they can then deliver exactly what is required.


“You are only as good as your day off.”


It takes time and commitment to developing the above skills within your business, and many you may need to improve yourself first. I always used to say to my managers within my restaurants ‘you are only as good as your day off’. I didn’t say this to make them worry on their days off that any problems that may be occurring they would be blamed for. It would encourage them to develop the team, ensure they were as good if not better than they were. It meant that they took accountability for their actions and created a culture where people took responsibility. If problems did arise when they had their days off, they would then act to rectify these issues and understand where they needed to improve, not just themselves but also with others.

Jonathan Butler is the Author of Business Recipes for Success: Four Steps to Building a Successful Restaurant and Hospitality Business available now on Amazon

More About Jon

An award-winning chef, hotelier, restaurateur, and author Jon has over 26 years experience in the hospitality industry. Having successfully operated his own businesses as well as helped many others to grow theirs. He launched OutSauced Consultancy in 2010, and since then, has helped a number of start-ups, entrepreneurs and SME’s within the hospitality sector, become more efficient, customer oriented and profitable.

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JON BUTLER - OutSauced Consultancy

+44 (0) 7775 746145