Oh, Sh!t, my server cried during a performance review. Millennials, am I right?

Talia Bennick
December 4, 2019
Talia is the Director of Strategic Growth at Humm and a connoisseur of Austin Food Trucks.

Oh, Sh!t. I just shattered my millennial server during a performance review. Should I make it up to him with an olive branch avocado toast? 


We’ve all heard the stereotypes before that millennials don’t respect their managers. They’re overly sensitive and can’t handle critical feedback. These exclamations, while definitely stereotypes, and funny ones actually, do address the truth of a real generational gap between managers and servers in the restaurant industry. For the next two minutes, let’s accept that yes, millennials are different from us Gen Xers and Baby Boomers, but let’s also accept that by 2020 (in one month!), 1 out of 2 employees will be a “millennial.” It’s in a restaurant’s best interest to take this generational gap seriously and start adapting.


Today, millennials don’t understand the feedback language that we are speaking. Only 17% of millennials say that the feedback they receive is meaningful, per a 2016 Gallup poll. We, as managers, are failing the vast majority when it comes to providing professional feedback, impacting our restaurant’s bottom line through less productive servers, higher attrition, and ultimately a worse dining experience for our guests.


The problem lies in the current frequency and method of delivering feedback: an obligatory quarterly or, more likely, annual performance review none of us looks forward to. Instead, 72% of employees under the age of 30 want feedback on a daily or weekly basis, and they want it delivered quickly, honestly and transparently. 


Let’s break it down. Live. Honest. Transparent. Feedback.


Live Feedback. Imagine one of your guests had a five-star experience, and tells you about it during a table touch. Quick Plug for Humm: At the end of their meal, that guest leaves a glowing review about the quality of their service on a Humm Feedback Tablet. Within seconds, you receive a Live Alert via text message about that stellar service. At end of shift, you share the feedback with the server that covered that table and thank him for his top shelf performance. Immediately, that server feels appreciated by you and recognized for his contribution to the team that very night, instead of months later during one of those “performance reviews.” That’s the power of Live Feedback.

Humm Live Alerts

“Honest” Feedback. Take a server that started at your restaurant two weeks ago. She’ll want to know how she is doing, and she won’t want to read between any lines. She wants a candid perspective; nothing better than actual guest feedback. If you are collecting guest comments, share them with her--the good, the bad, and the ugly! If you use Humm for guest feedback, you’ll both receive a weekly Server Insights Report on the 24 tables she covered last week. She earned an average score of 81.46. Not outstanding compared to the 89.77 average server performance. Guest comments on her humms included themes of “slow” and “not knowledgeable.” Humm identified this trend, not you. She knows this is not a single overreacting guest’s complaint nor the perspective of a “biased” manager. Before the start of her next shift, you check in. “What were your thoughts about that Humm Report? What can we do to speed up service? How can I help?” Instead of delivering critical feedback yourself, Humm’s the messenger, and you’re now the coach. Discussing this honest feedback, you work with her to set improvement goals around her “menu knowledge” and “service speed” and are now able to track her progress on a weekly basis.  Honest Feedback removes all guesswork for both you and your servers.

Humm Live Reports

“Transparent” Feedback. One of your servers is the top performer week after week  (perhaps earning top rank on the Humm Staff Ranking Report), and another regularly finds himself in the bottom quartile. Share their performance with  transparent access to the data for servers and managers. With transparency, you can easily reward high performers with praise, bonuses, or career advancement opportunities, successfully retaining top talent, and in contrast, either coach underperforming servers or manage them out of the business in a timely and professional manner that should not be of surprise to them, since they receive the same live, honest guest feedback as you and your leadership team.


We wrote this because giving servers live, honest, and transparent feedback is key to successful employee engagement, and to put it bluntly, Humm is the most simple method for managers to provide servers with the meaningful feedback that they’re looking for. 


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