Are You One of These Bad Restaurant Managers?
Restaurant turnover rates are among the highest in any industry, with some reporting up to a 100% loss in their workforce per annum. While there are a lot of mitigating factors that determine those figures, it stands that losing such a substantial part of your staff every year is no good for business. Although you can’t control all of the factors that cause staff atrophy, you can change how you handle yourself as a member of management. That includes avoiding creating a toxic work environment, and by identifying the traits of bad restaurant managers or management styles, you can move focus on what matters: helping your workers feel satisfied and improving their retention rates.
Mike the Micromanager
Meet Mike the Micromanager. He manages a franchise in a mid-sized city and sees regular traffic. Mike wants to know where all of his employees are at all times and requires them to prove what they are doing throughout each shift by filling out a detailed spreadsheet. To ensure quality, he watches how each server interacts with guests and criticizes their conversations after the fact in real-time. Despite the fact that he’s not a chef, he regularly tweaks the menu without consulting the head cook.
Solution: Trust Your Staff
By micromanaging, Mike is precluding his staff from growing. They aren’t positioned to learn and develop their skills on their own. On top of that, they feel undervalued for their efforts, which can lead to a decline in overall retention. Rather than disenfranchising your staff and squandering your time on manually entered reports, you can employ digital tools to help ease your anxiety over the performance of your workforce.
Some KDS platforms provide data metrics that can show him what does and doesn’t work from a statistical perspective. Additionally, restaurant analytics apps can provide Mike with real-time data as to what is happening in his restaurant, allowing him to be in more than one place at a time without having to encroach on his staff or tax their already precious time.
Nancy the Negative Reinforcer
Nancy the Negative Reinforcer owns a small, but successful indie restaurant. She is mostly hands-off with her staff and wants to trust their choices, but hits a snag when it comes down to the final product. Nancy puts together a plan for a retooled menu and assigns that task to her head chef. The head chef builds upon their previous successes to develop a menu that satisfies their clientele, and add to the uniqueness of their restaurant.
Unfortunately, despite her absence in the process, Nancy is upset with the outcome as the chef hadn’t quite intuited what she had in mind. She responds only by pointing out what’s wrong with the retooled menu, without adding any guidelines for how to correct it or offering any positive feedback. This creates a rift between her and her staff, as they spend as much time second-guessing their own work as they do in satisfying their requests.
Solution: Better Communication
To mend fences, Nancy needs to ensure that she tells her staff exactly what she has in mind. In setting specific goals and allowing for some creative freedom, she signals to her team that she trusts and values their instincts. After a project is in a presentable stage of development, she needs to lead with positive assessments and if necessary, take time before presenting negative feedback. If something doesn’t seem right, Nancy needs to take some time to find out why, before rejecting an idea.
Pam the Passive Aggressor
Cynicism and resentment are bitter pills for many people to swallow, and at the heart of passive-aggressive behavior. As a leader, Pam the Passive Aggressor tends to eschew any empathy and finds herself irritated with her staff if they ask questions she finds tedious or redundant. She responds to any situation that she finds beneath her with passive aggression or smart-aleck responses and then writes that off as a joke. This leaves her team uncertain how to respond at best, and apprehensive to communicate at all at worst.
Solution: Defusing Passive Aggression
For Pam, taking a deep breath and stepping back for a moment can give some critical moments to contemplate an appropriate response. She should consider accepting the boundaries that others set for her and if possible, employ mindfulness to give herself a moment to reflect before responding. If Pam finds herself continuing to make rude remarks, she should apologize. The more she potentially alienates her staff, the more difficult her retention efforts.
Alan the Absentee
We’ve all had supervision that is rarely available and Alan the Absentee is just never there. He isn’t the first or last boot on the ground, and in the times that he does interact with his staff, he gives little feedback. Alan doesn’t lead by example but is always willing to take the credit for the success of the restaurant.
Perhaps more distressing, Alan the Absentee is the person evaluating a staff that he doesn’t fully understand. He isn’t fully qualified to identify the challenges unique to every position, and in that cannot accurately acknowledge success.
Solution: Showing Up
The solution for Alan is simple: be there and stay informed. Studies show that 96% of employees identify empathy as imperative to retention efforts; getting to know your staff members yields real results. If he can’t be there, he should consider using the aforementioned restaurant analytics apps to watch while he’s away. He can host meetings on a quarterly basis and lead with ice breaker activities to lighten the mood.
By creating a more rigorous series of checks and balances, Alan can better support his team. In the instances where he can’t be there, he should delegate leads and trust their judgment to assess the work of his team. In addition to setting standards for performance, Alan can use things like recipe viewer programs for his back-of-house staff, to dictate specifics, which will provide metrics for success in review feedback.
While we’ve described a host of frustrating figures, there is none more cartoonishly unpleasant than Peter Petty. Peter is resentful and spiteful, hyperbolic in his mean spirited jokes that come at the expense of others and prone to make comments that may or may not use appropriate humor or demeaning language. He is the picture of a bad manager, the kind that takes any feedback or perceived slight personally and then lashes out. Holding grudges and exerting a dictatorial position in his authority is important to Peter. He believes that despite the fact that he is the common denominator, the real problem is everyone else.
Solution: Reconsider the Cost of Winning
The central strategy in Peter’s convictions is to assert his dominance, which is both inaccurate and untenable; it’s okay not to know everything and to learn and grow from your mistakes. He might consider that instead of winning an argument, he can delegate that to someone who may be better skilled at personal interaction, as staff turnover is expensive.
Fortunately, psychologists believe empathy can be taught. He should listen to other people and consider whether or not his pride is worth the price of losing an asset to your team.
Employee turnover is expensive and time-consuming and can severely cut into your margins. By recognizing if you are one of the bad restaurant managers listed here, or something else, you foster a sense of community and empower your staff, while enhancing your retention efforts and improve morale. Check your ego and look at the bigger picture when dealing with staff. Put yourself in their shoes and follow the Golden Rule and it can pay off in the long run.
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About the Author
Syd was a content marketing specialist, which are fancy words for writing pretty to tell a good story. He likes writing things about food, drinks, and music. He’s a musician himself, a father of two, and loves his wife a whole lot.