6 Ways to Inspire Better Restaurant Manager Performance
Managers are at the forefront of leadership in your restaurant. A restaurant manager’s performance, attitude, habits, and ways of relating can be contagious, for good or ill. As the old saying goes, “If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” This also means managers are the spearheads of change and the ones who tip your business toward or away from success in daily operations and service. How are you taking care of your managers?
Inspiring Better Restaurant Manager Performance
Inspiring and encouraging managers not only leads to their personal enrichment, but better performance, and leads to a trickle-down effect among other staff to help you see real improvement and change in your business. Here are six ways you can inspire your managers for a better restaurant.
1- Understand what they do week to week.
When’s the last time you asked your managers what their days actually look like? Managers can end up spending many of their hours doing things they do not feel fits their job description. Though we all pick up a little slack here and there, even on a well-functioning team, there comes a point when the scales tip and service and leadership become a cycle of frustration. You need to know what’s going on so you can head problems off at the pass. Here’s a practical idea:
Sit down with managers and ask them what they spend most of an average week doing. It might be helpful to ask them to spend a week or two making notes of tasks they accomplished during certain hours of the day, where they felt energized and where they felt totally drained of creative energy, and then tally it all up. You’ll see where they’re hitting their stride, and where they’re getting mired in what amounts to others dropping the ball, inefficiency in operations, or need for personal improvement.
2- Leverage frustrations for systemic improvement.
Where managers are frustrated reveals ways your restaurant can improve. Frustration helps you spot areas of weakness in service, an employee who’s having trouble, a food item that’s consistently understocked, or an organizational software tool that’s outmoded. Identifying where managers spend much of their weekly time is a win-win-win for you, your managers, and your restaurant’s success.
And as your managers see their concerns being addressed, you’re going to create a positive atmosphere in your restaurant. Your customers will benefit far more from the attention of relaxed and well-supported managers.
3- Take extra pressure off.
If managers are not able to spend real time, week to week, taking the initiative to make improvements and build relationships, they are not getting enough time to be good managers. Having the freedom and energy to contribute to positive change makes the difference between real leadership and merely “following from the top.”
As the owner of the restaurant, it may be your job to take something off your managers’ plates if it’s consistently a major distraction from their more important work. If taking on a task yourself or investing in some new operational automation tools would free up some time for managers to be better, more proactive, and more strategic, then you are fulfilling your role as a leader as well.
You’re setting the example, here: leaders don’t just tell people to do their jobs, they help them flourish in their jobs. And this is how you’re coaching your managers to handle other employees.
4- Initiate open communication.
One of the most important things that keep management healthy is trust. At the end of the day, if they cannot come to you with questions and expect honest replies, and get resources, encouragement, feedback, and professionalism from you, their own managerial resources will run dry. This includes concrete resources like time, relationships, and the ability to share tasks, as well as “invisible” resources, such as enthusiasm, and moral support.
Set up regular times to meet with your management team, and to talk to your managers one-on-one. This is always, always worth your time. Ask them for feedback on how you can improve, and how, from their perspective, the food, atmosphere, or service could improve. Share with them your cell number as a gesture of trust and respect. But, whenever possible, never conduct substantial conversations, particularly difficult ones, over text.
5- Learn and teach emotional maturity.
One of the hardest things to find in a high-pressure job is a leadership environment which exemplifies and rewards emotional maturity. But this is especially important in restaurants where the customer, who “is always right”, is not required to make anyone’s job easy. Often staff does not make managers’ jobs easy either (especially when it’s time to schedule shifts!). The principles of “non-anxious presence” are worth exploring here as a long-term leadership tool and a goal to work on with all your managers. Obviously, you’re not their psychologist or guru, but sprinkling in leadership teaching on active listening, for example, or responding clearly and kindly in high-stress situations, teaches balance between authenticity and self-control, and how to respect and lead others even in extremely stressful circumstances.
6- Give them tools to succeed.
To help your managers get a better grip on their priorities, goals, and areas of growth, they need to know consistently what’s happening in the restaurant. Like you, they can’t be everywhere at once, but they do need to be able to respond appropriately and understand rather than just react to emergencies.
Original Review offers the ideal tool for this, because it tracks customer feedback in real time, all day, every day. Dozens of reviews a day allow managers to pinpoint areas of strength and weakness as well as address problems highlighted by poor reviews before unhappy diners leave the restaurant.