Many restaurateurs assume that slightly higher pay fairly compensates their management staff for their added responsibilities. This is shortsighted. Managers comprise a small portion of your restaurant staff; thus, it is easy to overlook them and their particular needs. Yet, as important as it is to support the first line of service – the servers and kitchen staff- it is also critical to support your leadership team. One can’t function without the other. It can be hard to stop and strategize your approach to interacting with your managers, so focus on these three essential areas: leadership skills development, disciplinary support, and constructive criticism. Building on these areas will create a strong, fruitful foundation for your restaurant. Managers who receive support from proprietors run the day to day more effectively.
Leaders Need Leadership
Certain personalities lend themselves to leadership roles more than others, but a particular genetic code isn’t enough to make a great leader. Your managers need sources of inspiration, and your example should be their primary fountainhead. Invest some time in reflecting on your leadership team’s individual strengths and weakness. If you need some help, there are easy to use free resources for identifying personality types. Myers Briggs is one of the most widely respected theories on personality types. Rather than spending precious time psychoanalyzing your staff, have them take a free test online. The results outline everything from strengths and weaknesses to communication styles. This is a great opportunity to not only gain insight into your team, but also to create an opportunity to develop bonds between team members. Once you have a general profile for each of your team members, you can work to build them up individually.
Take the Brunt of the Dirty Jobs
No situation is perfect. Despite your best efforts, there will be interpersonal conflicts between staff members or the occasional disgruntled guest. Dealing with these tasks usually falls on the manager’s shoulders. And while it’s not possible to take every hit for them, you should do your best to take a share. Managers who feel isolated respond worse to difficult situations over those who know they have backup support. Your efforts to share the brunt of the difficult jobs will encourage your managers and inspire them to do their part.
The more removed you are from the groundwork of running your restaurant, the more difficult it can be to identify the areas crying for improvement. Your managers are in a prime position to identify areas of concern and their source. Issues arise, however, when the source starts at the top. It is rare for a manager to jeopardize their standing by highlighting areas in which upper management could improve. Thus, it is critical to provide an environment and resources which encourage open communication between proprietors and management.
One option is providing anonymous means of submitting suggestions. Safeguards must be enforced to ensure that this does not simply become a venting forum. Outline clear guidelines. Comments should be restricted to a few sentences long. If you are going to start with something as simple as a suggestion box, arrange a time when you can read them aloud with your management team. If the tone starts to deteriorate, move up to electronic submissions via email or Google Forms. Being able to trace the suggestions or complaints to their author should be enough to stifle unnecessarily negative feedback. Further, if you are consistently getting intensely negative feedback from a particular manager, assess whether they are in the right place. Negativity is contagious. Leaders must be wary of creating an environment degraded by consistent negativity.
Another option would be to meet monthly with your managers to provide them with the opportunity to express ideas for improvement. The sole focus of the meeting should be to solution-oriented. This approach is less likely to open the gates to unproductive conversations. Identify a means of communication that will fit your situation. It is important to detach yourself from the criticisms when they arise, to an extent. Mistakes don’t equate to failure, and no one is perfect.
Running a restaurant is an all-engrossing undertaking. It can be tempting to let managers fend for themselves when faced with the ever-mounting list of things calling for your attention. However, investing in your leadership team is paramount to your overall success.
Challenge: take the Myers Briggs test and identify your strengths and weaknesses, based on your personality type.
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