5 Mistakes NEW Restaurant Managers Make

 In 1. David Scott Peters, Employees, Leadership

Let me help you find your next restaurant managers. To do this I want to point you inside your four walls. Look to your line employee ranks, which is optimal for several reasons:

1) You have invested time training them so they know your business

2) They have learned your company culture and have proven they are already a fit

3) They are often excited about the opportunity to step up

4) They are often less expensive than a seasoned pro

They might be perfect for the new management job, but they are going to make mistakes. Here are the five common mistakes NEW restaurant managers make that cause them to fail and how to avoid them.

Mistake No. 1: Remaining one of the team

The vast majority of managers are promoted from the ranks of line employees. They are usually one of the best at their position, showing leadership skills and demonstrating a desire to do more in the business. The challenge is when they first make that move into management they still want their peers to see them as their buddy.

The solution is to sit down with your new manager to spell out the new rules, including not going out to party with staff. It’s also important to understand employees don’t need to like them to get them to do what they want. They need to respect the new manager.

Mistake No. 2: Not asking for help

Most independent restaurants don’t have a management training system in place to ensure new managers learn everything they need to know. So they learn by making mistakes and then getting an onslaught of negative feedback and endless correction. This can create a negative work environment, one in which a new manager would rather not ask for help for fear of looking stupid or feeling the wrath of upper management.

The solution is to put the right training and management tools in place. First, have an operations manual with all of your systems, policies and procedures documents on how you want them done. Second, create a management training system that is based on what the job is, how you want it done, how well you want it done and by when. Third, have detailed checklists for every position for opening and closing duties including management. And fourth, create a positive work environment where new managers feel comfortable asking for help.

Mistake No. 3: “Me against them”

Because new managers are coming from the ranks of line employees, they can come with some baggage from the department and/or shift they worked. For example, there can be strained relations between a new manager who was once a front-of-house employee and one or more back-of-house (BOH) crew.

The solution is to have detailed checklists for every position as stated in detail in the previous solution.

Mistake No. 4: Dating the help

The restaurant business is very social and often people are attracted to people who are confident and in a leadership role. This creates a lot of opportunity for dating inside the restaurant. The challenge is when it’s done too often or it goes awry and leads to the unintended consequence of a hostile work environment where peers feel uncomfortable at work.

Or this behavior can create a quid pro quo situation where dating can be used to get tangible job benefits such as a better schedule or higher wages. In both cases, it creates a workplace where sexual harassment is taking place.

Since I happened to have met my wife in this environment, it’s hard for me to tell you to go too far with this. But you do need to sit down with management and let them know that while you know it may happen, they had better be very selective on who and how often because if sexual harassment occurs, even if unintended, they may lose their jobs.

Mistake No. 5: Not looking the part

You often never see a line employee in their street clothes because they have to show up dressed and ready for work in their uniform. Then you promote them to a management role only to discover they don’t dress the part.

The solution is to have a policy in place that is 100 percent clear on expectation for how your management team is expected to dress. Don’t wait to have a difficult discussion when they show up in a shirt that looks slept in and shorts that are hanging off their ass.

Put the right systems in place and the proper training so your new managers don’t fall into the mistakes that can often take a great line employee and make them a terrible manager who ends up quitting.

Read more about ways to train and prepare your managers in our free special report, Breaking Away from the Insanity: How to easily take control of your restaurant and make more money. Download it here

David S. Peters
Aside from being the founder of TheRestaurantExpert.com and serving as a Member coach, David is also a dynamic and engaging speaker. He is available to present in large group settings targeting independent restaurant owners, whether they own one location or a multi-unit chain.
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