How to Grow Your Employees into Management
I tell all the restaurant owners I meet: You need help. You cannot do everything we teach on your own.
And really, it’s pretty simple to say, “I need help.” The challenge is getting the help.
Here are the common mistakes independent restaurant operators make when it comes to hiring help and what to do instead. I like to teach how to grow your employees into management.
Mistake No. 1 – hire a chain manager
As an independent operator, it’s tempting to hire a chain restaurant manager because you think they’ll bring their experience with systems to your restaurant. In the last decade I have helped literally thousands of restaurant owners, and I don’t think I can put my finger on any more than one restaurant where this decision has worked.
Why does it fail EVERY TIME? Because chain managers only know how to do what they are told to do. They don’t have the flexibility or interest in setting up and adjusting your systems.
Instead, let the candidates identify themselves without knowing they are interviewing for a position in management.
Post on your employee bulletin board that you are looking for people who would like to help you with special projects, such as entering recipe costing cards, setting up your inventory systems, etc. Let them come to you. You get them moving on the special projects, which gets the work done you needed done anyway, but you also get to see if they have the skill sets and work ethic you need in a manager.
If they don’t do a good job for you, your worst case scenario is they just don’t do any more special projects for you. The best case is you offer those who prove themselves one to two shifts a week as a manager in training (MIT) or shift supervisor.
Mistake No. 2 – talk them into management
Not everyone is built for management. Most operators think their best server, bartender or cook would make a great manager. In most cases, the answer is NO. For front-of-house people, it’s difficult to take a promotion and give up the cash and flexibility of that line position. And oftentimes being the best means they don’t have a lot of patience for those who just don’t get it.
Instead, have 2–3 in training at all times. Don’t settle for one person to promote to manager in training (MIT) or shift supervisor. Have two or three going at the same time. Train them in the skills they need and the tasks they need to accomplish to be successful. This way you allow the best to continue to show you they are willing to do what it takes to move up in your organization. Then, pick the most qualified. From that group of MITs, pick the best candidate to become an assistant manager and teach them. When they have shown you they can do the job, then promote them and pay them more.
Mistake No. 3 – anoint the princess or prince to supreme ruler
Desperate to fill your vacancy at general manager (GM), you take an unqualified person on your team and anoint them GM. Promoting them to GM doesn’t prepare them for the position. It doesn’t teach them what they have to do. It doesn’t mean they can lead the team. All it means is you are going to pay them more money and odds are not in your favor that they will succeed. In most instances, they disappoint you because they just weren’t ready for the level of responsibility, so they end up quitting or getting fired.
Instead, with your 2-3 MITs, promote them ONLY when they are ready. While they may be doing the tasks of the GM, they are not independent yet. You still need to be over their shoulders inspecting and training. Once they truly have mastered the tasks and demonstrated the skills needed, it’s time to promote them.
So the ultimate solution is to grow your managers into the position, don’t throw them into failure.