Guests collecting their bowling shoes from a friendly staff member

Keeping your good staff – principles of effective team management

At a time when recruiting good staff is a challenging task it is important to do what we can to keep hold of the good ones. One tension point, and sometimes reason for staff leaving, is poor team management. The feeling that some people in the team get away with not pulling their weight, are allowed to avoid doing what needs to be done and it’s the same people always picking up the slack. 

In this post we explore some simple principles to help you sense-check your current practice and ensure you’ve got processes in place to identify and deal with poor performance. 

The Cycle of Successful Staff Management

We recommend the following guiding principle: 

Cycle of successful staff management graphic

In our experience most employers are good at step 1: establishing a procedure. Some do step 2: effectively communicate the procedure. Step 3 is the weakest area which tends to result in incorrect or inadequate actions being taken (step 4), as managers react without evidence.  

Understanding the Cycle

Step 1: Establish Procedure – identify a practice you want undertaken and record it e.g. ensure all customers wear house bowling shoes when bowling. 

Step 2: Effectively Communicate – tell the team the procedure and let them know where it is written down should they wish to refer back to it. 

Step 3: Audit Compliance – check that the procedure is being followed. This could be achieved in various ways including observation, mystery shopper, monitoring of relevant paperwork etc. 

Step 4: Take Action – do something if people are doing it right and if they aren’t. I.E celebrate and reward people who consistently follow the process. Identify a course of action and review to manage people who aren’t following the procedure. 

Step 5: Review Procedure – Consider any non-staff reasons why the procedure is not being followed. 

Why is this important

There are a few basic but critical reasons why establishing this standard of procedure review: 

Culture – the way you manage staff sets the working culture. Amazing staff will eventually stop doing their work to their usual standard if they consistently observe colleagues getting away with doing far less without consequence. If the only ‘reward‘ good staff get is to always be scheduled to work at the busiest times, then they will probably leave.  

Health and Safety – there will be a number of procedures that you have in place which are there for legal reasons. Ultimately, in the event of a significant injury or accident you will need to prove that you have the right procedures in place and the cycle of successful staff management has been implemented.  

Financial – aside from the potential significant expense of a negligence law suite should certain H&S procedures not be followed, many of your procedures will impact on the efficient running of your centre. From management and maintenance of your bowling lanes, portion control in your kitchen, staff freebies behind the bar to lane management the procedures you put in place and the extent to which they are followed will significantly impact your bottom line. 

Case studies

Ice cubes in a glass


Step 1: you decided that all drink glasses needed to have 2/3rds ice. 
Step 2: you informed all the staff at your staff training and asked your managers to include it in their bar induction training. 
Step 3: you organise for weekly mystery shopper checks at various times across the week and discover that at peak times the glass has a lot less ice in it. 
Step 4: at this point, the response may be to assume that staff are simply not following the procedure. You ask the manager why it’s happening and they don’t know – they have been busy doing their multitude of other tasks.  
The Owner observes for themselves and speaks to the staff who work at peak time. You discover that the issue is that ice machine is not capable of producing the volume required to fill all the glasses to the required level. 
Step 5: the issue isn’t the staff, it’s the machinery provided. You either provide more suitable machinery or amend the procedure. 


Step 1: knowing the financial impact of having gaps in your reservation sheet, you adopt a policy of back-to-back bookings on your reservation sheet.
Step 2: you arrange for Bowling Vision to come and run staff training for your reception team on effective lane management.
Step 3: Over the next month you check the reservation sheets regularly. You spot that on the Saturdays when Receptionist A is on there are hardly any gaps. However, when Receptionist B is on there are loads of gaps.
Step 4: You give a financial reward to Receptionist A. You arrange additional training for receptionist B, set target expectations.
Step 5: You check that additional pressures on the receptionists are removed at peak times e.g. not handing out shoes or answering the telephone.

A woman looking at a planning document
People waiting in a queue at a counter


Step 3: over the next month you check the reservation sheets regularly and spot that there are always gaps at peak times. 

You observe what is happening (staff themselves might not know what is causing the issue and the duty managers will be too busy). It is clear that a second booking terminal is required / a second person is needed to manage shoes / bookings aren’t staggered so too many guests are arriving at the same time. 

Step 4: You buy a second terminal / arrange for another team member to do shoes / undertake further training on staggering bookings. 

Step 5: You update your procedure to reflect the alterations made. 

Your ability to retain your good staff is dependent on your ability to create a positive work culture. In our experience creating robust procedures, ensuring compliance and rewarding your effective team members is a great way to set the standard, provide work satisfaction and keep your retention rates high.  

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