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3 Hard Truths Restaurant Managers Need to Hear Today

Posted by Donald Burns on 9/7/17 8:00 PM in Restaurant Management

4 minute read Print

restaurant management facts

Restaurant managers don't have it easy. If you are like 87% of restaurant managers out there, you might feel you were a little unprepared for the role you currently are in.

Watching other managers, you might have had a sense that it was easy. Maybe you thought you could do a better job than that one manager who everyone hated, but then you were thrown into management and you soon realized: management is anything but easy

Welcome to restaurant management.

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How you arrived at this position doesn't really matter. Nor does the training you probably didn't receive. What does matter is what you do from this day forward to take yourself from being just a manager to the being a leader.

Yes. There are people who truly are leaders. Now, you will hear a lot of managers say they are leaders. Here's the first sign they are not: they tell everyone their title is the leader. True leadership does not care about title. They prefer their actions to speak for them.

Before you can make the journey to leadership (which can make the trip to Mordor in The Lord of the Rings look easy), you'll need to face a few hard truths that you could slow you down. All great quests have obstacles that the hero must confront.

Here are yours:

1. You're Not Communicating Properly

On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your communication skills with your team? Most people are very kind to themselves and tend to rate their skills around an 8 (psychologists call this Illusory Superiority).

Ask your team to be brutally honest, and they would probably give you a 4.

Communication skills are what separate managers from leaders. The latter are constantly working to improve communication with everyone they come in contact with. Everyone.

How you talk to people is a habit. Habits become unconscious behaviors that will creep into your professional life. If you talk down to people in your personal life, chances are you will talk down to people on your team too. Bad communication habits are the cornerstone of bad restaurant management. You can talk a good game and act one way in front of certain people. It's how you act when those people you're trying to impress are not around that is the truth.

Losing your temper in front of your team just tells them you don't have self control. Do you think people want to follow someone who has no control over themselves? You can argue that you're just passionate. No. You're just using that as an excuse to show the team you're not a leader. If you don't get your emotions under control, they will control you.

2. You're a Hypocrite

The battle cry of the manager is ,"Do as I say, not as I do." When your words and actions are incongruent, you create distrust within your team. Trust is an essential element to teamwork. You need trust to build a team. 

If they don't see you leading by example, then you're just like the boy who cried wolf. They see you coming a mile away and think, "Here we go, another piece of fluff and nothing will change."

If you want to be a leader, then you must stop talking about it and start living it. The path to being a leader starts with being consistent and having integrity with your words and deeds. 

  • You say learning is a core value in your restaurant. How many books have you read in the last month?
  • You say people are your most valuable asset. Do you treat them as such?
  • Do you feel a little uncomfortable now? Good. That is where the growth starts.

3. You're Focused on Tasks, Not People

The restaurant business is fast-paced and loaded with puzzle pieces that need to come together to create an outstanding restaurant.

We have so many variables that need to be juggled simultaneously that many new managers quickly become overwhelmed. Once again, not as easy as it looks. 

Restaurant managers have a tendency to revert to the checklist and not the individual. That person who just did your checklist wants to be recognized. They want to be appreciated. One of our greatest human needs is the need to feel appreciated. If you fail to acknowledge your team, high turnover is right around the corner. You can say it's them, not you. It's probably more on you for not being a leader.

If you took the time to create a checklist, then you owe it to the team to verify that the quality and standards implied on that list are upheld. Not doing so robs you and your team of a valuable opportunity to be human. Connect. Communicate. Coach. Lead.

Becoming a Better Restaurant Manager

You made it into management based on your past skills, hard work, and character. If you desire to transform into a true leader, you'll need to leave behind some bad habits. You'll need to open your mind to learning. You'll need to embrace change. You'll need to accept personal accountability for everything you do.

Will it be easy? Hell no. Will it be worth it? Hell yes!

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Written by: Donald Burns

Donald Burns, The Restaurant Coach™ is the leading authority, author and international coach on how restaurant owners, operators and culinary professionals go from just good to becoming exceptional. He helps independent operators create organizations that thrive and bring out their workers' natural strengths to reach their peak potential. A sought-after advisor in the areas of menu design & engineering, restaurant operations, rebranding, social media marketing, culinary consulting, team development, behavioral dynamics, productivity & peak performance.

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