Restaurant Staff Management: 5 Habits Your Team Wishes You’d Drop
Being a leader in the restaurant business is far from easy. In fact, it’s been said that it’s somewhat like being a bull rider. Some days, you ride the bull, and other days it rides you!
Yet, here you are still getting back out there day after day going for another round with the beast. You love the business deep down for all the good and bad that it offers. You even love that team you have that you complain about. What? Complain? Me? Yes, you.
Don’t play innocent. Your love for your team is at times a torrid affair that has you watching episodes of Crime Scene Investigations (CSI) wondering how to dispose of the body. Well, here’s some news: your team probably has similar thoughts about you too! For everything you do right as a leader, there is another list that your team keeps about all those other things they wish you would stop doing. The restaurant management staff strategy then is identifying those nasty habits and correcting them.
To keep your team from plotting your death, I’m going to share them with you now.
You’re Late More than They Are
There’s nothing worse in your team’s eyes than a hypocrite. They love it when you say one rule for them and do your own thing….not! The days of “do what I say and not what I do” are gone. Leadership is about accountability, and that starts with you.
Your words and actions must be aligned, or you risk being called an asshole. With the market saturated as it is, there are plenty of job openings. Being a jerk is not conducive to attracting, hiring, or retaining top talent. Be a jerk, and you actually get the bottom feeders of the lob pool. Water does seek its own level.
It’s time to stop talking a good game with your team and actually step up to claim your spot as their leader. No more doublespeak, white lies, or straight up bullshit on why you can’t do this or that. Sorry to break it to you, but no one really cares about your problems. They are too busy worrying about their own! That’s right, you are NOT unique no matter what your mom said to you!
You Play Favorites — Even Though You Say You Don’t
If you have children, you know where this is going. You always have a favorite team member. It’s okay, it’s natural.
The key is to be conscientious of this and not let it have a significant impact on your effectiveness as a leader. The worst offense is the dreaded “double standard.” You have one set of standards for the team, and you make (*clears throat*) “exceptions” for your favorite.
Let’s say that there is a hostess named Kayla who is your favorite. She routinely walks into work 15-20 minutes late, and you never say a word to her. Sara, on the other hand, comes in one time 8 minutes late and you go into a 20-minute lecture about punctuality.
The downside of this behavior is the ripple effect it has on your culture. Soon Kayla is alienated by the team because she is one of your favorites. Kayla then loses the social connection with the team and becomes disengaged at work. Shortly after this happens, Kayla gives her notice to leave. Great leaders are always aware of the social dynamics of their team.
You Leave When It Gets Busy — Your Banker’s Hours Just Annoy Them
Yes, you have worked long and hard for your current executive position. Don’t forget what got you there. It’s not long hours and hard work, it was the way the team looked towards you as a leader! Allow me to digress on a little rant about this notion of “hard work”: You’re not paid to work hard, you’re paid for the results and impact you have on the brand.
The saying that you’ve “paid your dues” is a warning sign you are about to discover mediocrity. Success is not a one-time payment. It’s like rent, and that rent is due every damn day.
I know quite a few General Managers, Director of Operations, and Executive Chefs that work in restaurants serving lunch and dinner. Yet their hours are 8am to 4pm. Why? While paperwork is a big part of upper management, it’s presence and visibility that separates managers from leaders. Without a leader, the team tends to do what they like. Being on the floor or in the kitchen during peak times is critical to team success. They need a leader to look up to. Someone to keep them focused. Someone to keep the panic under control when the rush comes and hell breaks loose!
If you’re not the leader then who? You might like this next statement. If you are not going to step out front and be a leader then why does an owner need you? If you are not working with your team to develop them and make them better, you’re deadweight on the payroll.
You Hide In the Office, but It Doesn’t Take 8 Hours to Write a Schedule
This one ties in closely to the one above. You can’t hide in your office all day saying your working on projects when you’re really just avoiding the team and the guests. Stop hiding from leadership and step into it! So many think (more like assume) that becoming a leader means less communication with the team and more time to just kick back and dabble at work on the computer. Knock it off.
Your team is out there working to ensure the guests are ecstatic with the dining experience or maybe they aren’t. You don’t know what the pulse of your restaurant is if you sit in the office and allow things just to happen organically. Outstanding service is not organic, it’s carefully crafted, orchestrated, and rehearsed. With the market overflowing with restaurant options you better be out training your competition. Failure to do so consistently puts your brand at risk!
If you really want to see how effective you are, then start a time journal for a week. Just jot down everything you do the following week. If you are brutally honest with yourself, you are going to be quite shocked at the amount of time you spend on tasks that do not move your brand (or your life) forward. You just spin round and round like a hamster running on a wheel. Eventually, you either burn yourself out or change jobs (either voluntary or involuntarily).
You’re Afraid to Fire the Slackers: Just Step Up and Be the Leader
Right now you have at least one person on your team that should be let go. Your team knows it too. By not stepping up and being the true leader you create a tidal wave of negativity that runs through your culture.
The culture becomes toxic and selfish with every person looking out for their own wellbeing. Toxic cultures just suck! No one wants to be there. The team is continually fighting amongst themselves. Guests might come in just to watch the drama unfold before them like a real life reality TV show!
So, why don’t you fire these people? You’re afraid, and that fear has you paralyzed from taking action. Being a leader means making tough decisions. It means facing fear and taking action in spite of it.
When you fail to act like the leader, you lose trust and respect from your team. Seriously, who wants to follow someone that can’t make the right decisions for what is best for the brand? Oh, and if you can’t manage your own life, do you think your team trusts you to run the restaurant. Being a leader means being a positive example. Is that fair? No. Is that how life is? Yes. Deal with it.
Now the final question that needs to be asked is, “What are you going to do with the information just presented to you?” Most will do nothing to improve their restaurant staff management. I sense that you are not like most because you actually read to the end of this post. That shows character. Now get out there and make the changes you need to get the restaurant you want.
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About the Author
Donald Burns is The Restaurant Coach™, named one of The Top 50 Restaurant Experts to Follow and one of 23 Inspiring Hospitality Experts to Follow on Twitter. A restaurant consultant for a $4.2-billion-dollar company, he works with restaurants around the globe that want to build their brand, strengthen their team, and increase their profits. His first book, Your Restaurant Sucks!: Embrace the Suck. Unleash your Restaurant. Become Outstanding, is an international bestseller.