I’ve heard a few friends mention interest in restaurant management. So it strikes an interest in me to say, “Please don’t commit restaurant suicide.” So instead of sounding like a judgmental bitch, I’ll strike an interest in offering my opinion as constructively as I know how (which isn’t saying much).
Management in the restaurant industry ranges in age. From what I’ve seen, heard and experienced it can range anywhere from 25-50ish. Much younger and they’re too young. Much older and they’re intolerant.
Most management I’ve seen are lifers turned manager. After much observation and verbal research, I have come to find lifers become managers for a multitude of different reasons. Some are just simply tired of being on the floor & being the restaurant’s bitch for call-outs, holidays and projects the higher-ups don’t want to do. Others simply hate the hours (which I find extremely ironic considering most restaurant managers work at least 4-5 more hours than the average hourly employee every day). Some are looking for a higher pay grade, guaranteed vacation and benefits because they’re starting families. Some are just using the management as a means to an end – climbing the totem pole for the bigger picture.
Whatever the reason, I have narrowed down the management styles to 5 different stereotypes for a little look into restaurant management, as I see it.
- Micromanagement – You all know this nitpicker because you avoid him/her like STDs. This is the manager that always manages to find something wrong with what you’re doing. If you pause for a minute to collect your thoughts in the middle of the rush, he/she will assume you’re not doing anything and give you a project that will surely take you at least an hour to complete once your shift is over. This manager is usually the least favorite and doesn’t play favorites. This manager sees every mistake and guest complaint as a coaching situation. Their over management often hinders our performance more than it helps.
- Don’t Give a Shit (can also be known as the pervert or the “cool” manager) – This manager often comes off as pretty fuckin’ awesome since they take nonchalance to a whole new level. They don’t yell at you for a guest complaints, allow you to text on the clock, eat dead food, and/or undermine guests’ wants/needs by taking their employee’s side (I have only seen this once, a very extreme version of “don’t give a shit”). This is sometimes a younger manager trying to get their employee to like them or someone who has been in the industry too long to care anymore. You probably “fraternize” with this manager frequently. They often say/do inappropriate things that cross even the “restaurant harassment” line (you know what I’m talking about).
- Care Too Much & Try Too Hard – This stereotype is scarce in comparison to the others. This is often a new manager or a personality type. They are often mistaken for micromanagers, but aren’t. They are much more positive and hopeful. They are not as hard on you as a micro-manager might be, but do find every moment to coach you in hopes that they’ll inspire a change in you. They are usually hands-on teachers. They do often over manage but in a much more passive-aggressive way. They want you to be passionate about taking care of the truly disturbed guests that walk through your front doors. These managers usually become “don’t give a shit” managers after being burned too many times by employees & guests alike.
- Bipolar Management (combination of “cool” manager & care too much) – I was going to stop after the last one, but I don’t want to neglect the most important stereotype. I’ve only seen a few of these in my short serving career, but they are worst (for me). They fluctuate from over-zealousness to downright asshole-ery. They want to be your best friend and don’t give a shit whether you complete your side work (someone else will do it anyway, right?). The next minute they’re stressed or their job is in jeopardy so they are riding your ass about why you forgot to ring the burger in with no tomatoes. You never know what to expect from this manager – often like a woman on her period.
- This One is Just Right – This is the manager that knows how to balance nonchalance & fun with being efficient. They connect with their employees yet keep it professional enough to gain their respect. He or she knows the best moments and more importantly how to coach each individual team member. They are laid back but hold you to a standard that inspires you to achieve it. They have a flexible management style. You communicate best with these types of managers.
If you couldn’t tell from my last description, I am partial to a well-rounded manager. A manager that can bring a little of everything to the table is usually the one I can trust and rely on the most. I don’t have to worry about crazy mood swings or that they won’t attend to my guest when a problem occurs. I do not have to worry about their ego getting in the way of doing their job, which in the long run allows me to do my job successfully as well. I can count on them to hold me accountable and give me feedback I can learn from. I think the best kind of manager can bring to light the bigger picture of the whole restaurant concept, “it’s just food & booze.”
A manager, especially in the craziness that is the restaurant industry, needs to be someone who helps keep the focus. Even when things are falling apart, a manager should be someone the employees should be able to look to for answers. And in the case where there isn’t always an answer, help keep the situation from being escalated or allow for improvisation from other management or team members. People are different; therefore, dealing with them is going to be different in each situation. A great manager understands there is always more they can learn.
This is not to discredit other methods of management, but I have found that there is more opposition to the black and white approach (my way or the highway). I think the last method is most effective, makes for a more consistent and efficient work environment, and is the most fun. I know that work is just that: work. But I don’t think that should make it a miserable place. You often spend more time at work than you do at home and your co-workers are your family away from home.
And this brings me to my final point of restaurant management being hell. I don’t think I could manage all the things I find in an ideal manager above. It’s a damn hard job to do, staying under an unimaginable amount of pressure and still keeping it together. It’s not something that interests me; I am much too light-hearted and thickheaded to take a management job seriously. Depending on your personality type, it could be different for you. But I find that most management is miserable because management is not like serving, bartending, hosting, bussing, cleaning or cooking. It’s all of those combined, and then some. So if you still think you’re ready to become a manager after this, good luck to you. I would love to see you prove me wrong.