With the 2016-17 school year nearing an end and the sweet sound of summer around the corner, I’m sure you’re looking forward to a well-deserved break. But, as we all know, summer seems to come and go in the blink of an eyewith many school nutrition staff members choosing to stay on a permanent vacation. Let’s take a look at some things to keep in mind when building your all-star team roster to bring your staff back from break and make the summer-to-school transition that much easier.

Create a Strong Cultural Foundation

You can’t build a house without a solid foundation. Well, technically you can, but we’re not aiming for subpar here. To build a top-performing team, a foundation for success must already be in place. We can start by fostering a culture for success. It is essential for team relationships to be cohesive, with each person given clear objectives they are working towards. Also, encourage people to be their whole self at work. Long gone are the days of seeing staff as interchangeable widget-makers. People are much more complex and perform at their best when allowed to integrate life experiences into work. Doing so creates a better connection between team members who know they don’t have to hide away their highs and lows during the work day.

Provide Necessary Resources

People can only perform at the best of their abilities if they have the tools to do so. This includes direction, leadership, ongoing education and training, and the tools necessary to effectively do the job. For example, the greatest software programmer in the world cannot successfully complete their job without a working computer. As we head into summer, now might be a good time to address any areas of infrastructure that could use improvement. Do you have a POS terminal that is constantly on the fritz? How about a walk-in refrigerator that’s constantly flirting with “danger zone” temperatures? Removing the stress caused by faulty equipment frees up time and energy that is better channeled in more productive tasks.

Develop Strengths and Minimize Weaknesses

In any organization, the overall strength of a team is equal to that of its weakest link. Everybody makes mistakes. However, just because someone may not be performing up to job standards does not mean they are apathetic or lack enthusiasm. Everyone has specific strengths and weaknesses. Most people enjoy doing things they are good at and avoid things they are not good at. Rather than castigating someone for lackluster performance, provide them the opportunity to realign their tasks and goals with their strengths and areas of passion. To do so, it is crucial to have a process to effectively identify, analyze, and reduce human error.

Include Team members in Decisions

Try to avoid springing new ideas on employees at the last minute or only giving them top-down directives. People experience more job satisfaction when they feel they are invested in the direction and outcome of the team. Successful team builders are those who can work with employees to overcome objections before starting a new task. Practicing a culture of collaborative communication assures that activities are well-delivered and better thought out. This also allows employees to share valuable insights that decision-makers may not have taken into consideration. Many in leadership positions lack the ability to take employee suggestions into consideration. Ego is a false sense of self that can devastate an organization.

Give Thanks

One thing workers in almost every industry claim they lack most is the opportunity to give thanks or appreciate one another. Many major companies use an exercise which requires individuals to take a seat for 1-2 minutes and listen to compliments from teammates. The person in the hot seat is able to learn how they are unique and gain valuable positive feedback. Many organizations fail to appreciate the day-to-day aspects of a worker’s job and only bring up performance for mandated reviews or disciplinary measures. Appreciation can energize and strengthen teams, resulting in higher engagement and productivity.

Be a Great Leader

Success or failure is a consequence of leadership. Before you set out to build an A-list cast of cafeteria stars, make sure you’ve taken the time to optimize your leadership skills. Those in leadership positions should be equipped to perform the jobs of their subordinates at a high-performance level. Employees recognize when their manager doesn’t understand crucial components of the job or cannot perform routine tasks. This can stifle motivation. A leader’s job is to motivate and inspire people to achieve goals, excel in their area of expertise, and deliver amazing results.

Encourage Continuous Improvement

Now that you have a basic understanding of how to build an all-star team, we should also focus on keeping this packed lineup together. For people to feel fulfilled with their work, they need to constantly be improving. An easy way to start is to provide coaching, mentorship, and recurring one-on-one meetings where the focus is on the organization helping the individual meet their personal goals. A good place to start is by staying up to date with your professional standards. Check out our free Team Work solution to seamlessly track your team’s continuing education credits (CEUs).

Regardless where your summer plans take you, we hope you enjoy some well-deserved time off and now possess the tools necessary to build an all-star roster for 2017-18.