In this contributed post, Andrew Call of eTundra's The Backburner discusses why restaurant owners and managers need to evaluate their people management skills when assessing poor employee performance. Andrew offers some restaurant management tips including the importance of consistent communication and strong leadership.
Owning and operating a restaurant is as daunting as it is promising. For both the new restaurateur and the seasoned professional the daily ins and outs can get frustrating.
While there are some things you can't control - like a restaurant equipment breakdown or the occasional upset customer - poor employee performance is a factor that you have the ability to correct.
You expect a lot from your employees, and that's understandable. Unfortunately the expectations you set and the performance you receive don't always go hand in hand, and more often than not poor employee performance is a result of poor management.
Here are five ways you, as manager, negatively affect your staff's performance:
You're not complimenting enough
It's a given that members of your staff get an earful when something goes wrong. Detailed feedback is expected, but how often is the same attention paid to staff accomplishments? If you want your employees to feel motivated and proud of the work they do it's your job to make them feel like their job is worth doing.
Empathize and realize that every employee has different opinions and expectations about their job. Provide just as much detail in positive feedback as you would accidents or missteps. In a workplace full of negative comments your staff eventually tunes out the negativity. On the other hand, if employees grow accustomed to hearing when they've done a good job they'll be more likely to pay attention when you've got something negative to say.
Managers often see underperforming employees as a teaching opportunity. This is a good thing, but can also be detrimental when you take it upon yourself to make sure every aspect of your problem employee's job is done correctly.
Taking away an employee's responsibility is the quickest way to make that employee mentally check out and put even less effort into their work. A good way to maneuver around doing the job for them is to spread several layers of quality control among your staff. This way you can get your own work done and your employees will feel like you're not looking over their shoulder all the time.
You play favorites
Applying standards unevenly is terrible. When you're setting guidelines and telling your employees one thing only to let one or two of them slack off because they're "in" with you you're sending a mixed message. Pretty soon your "star" server is slacking off because they're feeling entitled, and the rest of your crew starts to do the same because they resent how you treat your favorite employee.
If you want everyone to do side work you need to stick to your guns and make everyone do side work, it's that simple.
You're not setting a good example
Going hand in hand with not playing favorites, if you as manager aren't following the guidelines you establish then you're setting the wrong kind of example. Being hypocritical by not adhering to the rules you set gives your employees the notion that you don't really care about the rules.
Ducking out early to spend time with the family may sound like a good idea because "I'm the manager and I work harder than anyone else" but what you're really saying to your employees is "I know I'm on the schedule but I feel like going home". Your employees don't care what reasons you give for breaking the rules, all they care about is that you're breaking them. Once this happens trying to reverse the process is like attempting to remove poison from soup.
You haven't outlined a clear path for advancement
It may surprise you, but that star server we spoke of earlier might not always want to be in a serving position.
Without a clear path for advancement you're most efficient employees will eventually start looking for advancement somewhere else. Be sure you've outlined very clearly how an employee can move up the ladder, and don't make the only requirement be the person with the most years under their belt. It's frustrating to an employee when the only qualification their superior has over them is a few extra months.
Strong, consistent management in the form of setting good examples and keeping the lines of communication open can make managing a restaurant an extremely rewarding experience. You're the hub that holds the spokes (your employees, your kitchen, your customer's satisfaction) together on the ever-turning wheel that is your restaurant, and it's easy to start throwing around blame when something goes wrong. Before disrupting your forward momentum further try taking a look in the mirror first, you may be part of the problem.
Andrew Call provides blog insights regarding restaurant management and marketing at The Back Burner. The top-rated food service blog is written by the employees of Tundra Specialties, a company specializing in restaurant supply, parts, and a wide variety of foodservice equipment and sundries.