For those of you familiar with my background, you know that I've been in the hospitality industry, both bars and restaurants, for a fair percentage of my life now. Much of that has been spent as a manager myself. The greatest thing you can learn about yourself in the years following any specific management job is how good and effective of a manager you were. Employees still come to me many years after I've worked with them for advice, to thank me for the various things I've taught them, and to let me know about their own successes using the skills and attitudes I've taught and shown to them. Some of the greatest compliments I've ever received have been from former employees. One, on my last day working with them, said to me, "I am better at what I do because of you, and I'm so grateful for that. Thank you." Another, years after working with them, sent me a text out of the blue one day that said, "Thank you for teaching me that an issue with a guest is always an opportunity and never a debate." I'm grateful myself, and quite humbled, that these are not rare occurrences within my career and my life.
Last week, I found myself thinking about good managers vs. bad managers. A few days ago I came across a pretty direct Facebook post by a high-profile Facebook acquaintance that summed things up pretty efficiently, if also a little on the more…shall we say...colorful side of the coin.
Essentially, both my personal take, and what the person on Facebook said, is that there are an excessive number of managers who don’t know how to appropriately do their job. They are vindictive and petty to their employees. Behaving that way with your staff is easy and doesn’t take any level of work or talent or experience. There are too many managers in our industry who look for the easiest way possible. To be a good and effective manager, you have to also learn how to be a good leader. An effective manager, and a good leader, takes the time and effort to learn who their employees are. An effective manager and leader learns how each of the employees in their periphery learn and grow, and how to capitalize on and extract that from each to the greatest benefit of the employee, the manager, and the business as a whole. An effective manager (especially General Manager or Managing Partner) knows everything that is going on within their organization and keeps abreast of where (within their positions) their managers and employees happen to be at any given time, and of what they are doing within those positions.
Good managers and leaders can be either strict or easygoing (the best have figured out how to be both simultaneously), but both should be effective in their chosen style, and neither should berate or discourage their employees, nor should they let their employees and co-workers use them as a stomping ground.
An ineffective manager is one who is unapproachable. Employees are disinclined to come to this manager with any problems arising either in their personal lives that may affect their jobs, or with problems within their workplace. An ineffective manager berates and blames instead of giving constructive criticism in an approachable way. An ineffective manager looks at one instance instead of a period of time and pattern of behavior.
Both types of managers have bad days, but how they handle those days at work make all the difference to their employees and customers. Bad managers have volatile moods. When they are in a mood, every employee is on edge, and becomes disconcerted. The employees spend more time worrying about what the manager is going to perceive as wrong that day, assured that everything they do will be seen as bad or lacking, and as a result are distracted when taking care of customers and are more inclined to make more, and bigger, mistakes, which then compound the stress and frustration of both the employee and the manager. A good manager does their best to put on a positive face, and the employees know that even if the manager is clearly having an "off" day, they will handle their interactions with their staff with grace and tact--no differently than they would on any other day.
Just as we ask our employees to leave their problems at the door, so too should our management staff.
Employees of good managers and leaders know that their management always has the best interests of their staff at heart; that every action comes from a desire to make each individual, and the business as a whole, stronger, and they embrace constructive criticism and corrections. Employees of a bad manager feel subject to the selfishness of the ones meant to lead them. They feel like any word of concern to the manager, or of constructive criticism about their workplace, will lead to retribution against them. A good manager knows how to soften the negative with positive; they understand that you generally get more flies with honey, and they are able to turn not only guests, but also their own employees, into raving fans and loyal followers. They understand how what they say and how they say it is going to affect any given employee, and they are careful to frame their words in the most effective way possible for that one individual before approaching any given issue.
Good and effective managers know the importance of training; they know how to turn anything into a learning moment. Bad and ineffective managers punish for things the employee was never taught.
Bad and ineffective managers pit their employees against one another in various aspects of their job while good and effective managers understand that teamwork, particularly in a hospitality setting, is the surest way for their employees (and their business) to thrive and look forward to the time they spend at work.
Many bad and ineffective managers don’t realize they are bad managers. These people have never had the life-changing influence of a truly outstanding manager and leader to show them what, with work and perseverance, they could be to those people within their own reach.
Do you think you’re a good manager? Would your employees agree? How can you tell if your managers are effective? If they’re not, what resources and people do you or will you utilize to make them better?
Required Reading: Simon Sinek, Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don't.