This post was last updated on Jul 26, 2020.
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A ship will surely sink with an unfit captain, just as a poor restaurant manager will drive any food business into the ground.
After working in the same pizzeria for over six years, I can personally attest to the role a great restaurant manager plays in running a successful restaurant. My friends would share horror stories of the restaurants they worked in, but they struggled with an experience I was lucky enough to not have to deal with - poor leadership.
It's not uncommon for restaurant managers to get so focused on financial results and pay less attention to their employees. This is rarely intentional - managers just want to watch out for their own jobs and well-being. But when the needs of the budget and the needs of employees are pitted against each other, employees can be left feeling unappreciated.
And then they quit. Can you blame them?
You may think you're better off without certain employees, and sometimes, you're absolutely right. But keep in mind - a departing employee will cost you around $4,000.
Below are the five worst habits I've heard about restaurant managers that I would never want to work for. If any of these apply to you, I would strongly suggest having a heart-to-heart with yourself. Remember, it's never too late to change for the better.
1. Being Short-Tempered
Let's get a few things out in the open:
- Servers and runners will drop plates.
- Everyone will be late to a shift.
- Your cashier will enter an order incorrectly.
- The line cook will forget a specifically-requested ingredient.
So, please do not let your staff have it every single time they mess up. We're all human. You'll throw them off for the rest of their shift and they won't be as productive if they're fresh off a scream session in the back room.
Granted, if there's a pattern of unprofessional behavior or if someone makes a huge mistake, this is where you can kick into manager mode and try to change course. But ultimately, your job is not to bring them down when they slip up - it's to help them get to a place where they don't make that mistake anymore.
If you place all your effort into putting them down, that's where they'll stay...if they even stay at your restaurant.
2. Poor Communication
As a manager, it's important to realize that not all employees can see things on your level unless you first see things from their level. Why? Because people communicate in different ways.
Some of your employees are intuitive, self-confident, and can feel comfortable hearing instructions once. Others want to quadruple check before making a decision for maximum clarity. It's your job to know the difference.
Managing a restaurant is not as much about managing money as it is about managing people. When you favor one over the other, both suffer due to uninspired performance and high turnover. Make no mistake - managing your money and metrics are imperative. You're running a business and need to stay profitable! But with that said, don't go overboard.
3. Being a Micromanager
It's better to be over-involved than to not be involved at all, but there is a fine line that many restaurant managers cross.
Do any of these responses sound familiar?
- "Yes...I know they want two dressings for this salad. But they also asked for no onions, so I'm taking those off first."
- "I saw the people just sat down at table six, but if you couldn't tell I'm currently carrying five plates of hot food for table nine...I'll be right over"
- "I do notice that table four needs to be bussed, but there's a six-top that needs to be cleaned first because that group has been waiting for almost half an hour."
Although it can come from the best intentions, micromanagement expresses a lack of trust towards your staff. Most people don't appreciate this.
Take a step back and remember these employees were hired for a reason. Trust them.
Is a career in hospitality calling your name? Here's what to do to get to the leadership level.
4. Not Showing Your Face
Anyone can blindly take orders from the manager with a clipboard who is seldom seen on the floor. But this management style creates a separation between managers and their employees. Without this connection, it's difficult for staff and their leaders to see things eye to eye.
Don't hide out in your office. Of course you should be tracking inventory, running your numbers, and dealing with business issues as they arise. But again, these tasks are not all of your job.
Instead, let your staff see you in action. If you're as good a restaurateur as you say you are, your employees will have plenty to learn by watching you run the house. Who knows? You could be aspiring the world's next great chef or restaurant owner by showing them through your actions how you got this far in your career.
5. Not Being Appreciative
The worst restaurant managers are those who think they are always the solution but never the problem.
It takes a team to run an efficient restaurant, and management is just as much about course correction as it is about celebrating wins on the team. When you see a waitress working the floor like a boss, recognize it. Tell her she did a good job! Recognize her efforts in your next pre-shift meeting. Give the other servers on your staff something to aspire towards.
I'm not saying to pamper your staff and throw them a party every time they take an appetizer to the table, but keep an eye out for those moments when a staff member really goes above and beyond.
Showing an appreciation and a genuine interest in your staff's life can keep the good ones around for a long time. I can't even tell you how many great talks I had with my manager. He even came to my college graduation party.
How to Become a Better Restaurant Manager
Any restaurant staff is filled with all kinds of personalities. In the same night, you'll likely be managing experienced industry professionals and college students who are just happy to have a source of discretionary income.
As a manager, you have to work with all of your resources to create an unmatched guest experience, and that includes your employees. Treating each of your staff members as individuals, trusting them, appreciating them, and taking an interest in their work are what separate the good restaurant managers from the not-so-good ones.
So, what kind of restaurant manager are you?