The Salt Shaker Method

The Salt Shaker Method was created by a New York restaurateur to demonstrate the key principles of managing employees and keeping their performance up to a certain standard. The method outlines the concept of constant, gentle pressure which ER Strategies General Manager David Price, explains in the video below.  

The Salt Shaker Analogy

The strategy is called the Salt Shaker Method based on an analogy that employees will continuously fail to meet standards, or move the salt shaker away from the centre of the table. It is the manager’s role to continuously move the shaker back into the middle of the table, or in other words, keep employees accountable to the standards. There should also be an appropriate response from the manager depending on how the employee has failed to meet the standard.


The first principle, constant is all about having a culture of accountability, and this doesn’t just apply to the employees. Employers and their managers are also accountable for being consistent in pushing employees back towards them meeting their standards. Employers must be consistent in when they discipline employees because if they only do it every now and then it can send mixed messages to the staff. Additionally, if you are consistent with how you apply these standards across your whole network, these conversations won’t be as hard to have.


Gentle is all about how you apply the standards or correct the employee’s behaviour. Employees shouldn’t be made to feel degraded or demeaned when having their behaviour corrected. When correcting behaviour, it is important to get an understanding of the reasons behind an employee’s actions.


The last principle is pressure, which is about not letting your standards slide and always acting when standards aren’t met. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to intimidate employees and pressure them that way. The actions you take when correcting behaviour should be relative to the employee’s actions, however, there should always be some level of pressure. This can be as small as an informal conversation to just let the employee know that they haven’t met your standards, or in a more serious case, it could be a final warning or even termination.

The Salt Shaker Method

The method sounds simple however, it takes a certain management style to be able to utilise correctly. To put these principles in place it is paramount that you can:

  • Clearly articulate standards
  • Gently get people on board with the standards
  • Apply pressure when employees aren’t meeting standards

When an employee understands exactly what is expected from them and you are consistent in your actions, they will develop trust with you which provides a number of benefits beyond just easing the management process. Another benefit of utilising the Salt Shaker Method is that small issues don’t build up and result in an overreaction from an employer. In our experiences, we’ve seen how managers or owners who don’t consistently deal with minor issues can reach a ‘breaking point’ and overreact, leading to further issues. Many times these managers also take the employee’s actions personally and act out of emotion, which usually leads to a bit of trouble for the business. It is human nature to push boundaries and employees will always do it in some form, so you should remain composed and don’t take anything personally.

Need further assistance?

ER Strategies has been assisting employers to deal with their employees for over 20 years, and in that time we have likely come across any issue that you would be facing. We recognise that following methods like this and trying to achieve best practice is much harder in practice than in theory. If you are dealing with a problem employee, or you are just facing a tricky situation, get in touch with us on 1300 55 66 37, or contact us here, and we would be happy to assist you.

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