3 Fatal Questions Your Employees are Asking

Are your employees confused?

I've had a lot of time to think last week, and I have come to the opinion that the modern culture of today is making my job as a restaurant manager, harder. Employees of today are very different from those a generation ago.

They come to the job with a different set of beliefs and a different set of needs.

I also feel as though my newest employees have a tough time adjusting to my management style, or as I see it now, the culture in my restaurant.

Let me ask you this.
Would you or would you not agree with me, that a large percentage of the population base their decisions and actions nowadays on these three principles:
1. What's in it for me?
2. What is the least I can do and still get by?
3. If it feels good, do it! Isn't that right?

Our employees, and all of us, if we are honest with ourselves, are influenced by one or all of these to varying degrees.

We are bombarded by television, radio, text messaging and internet, from the time we wake until the late hours of the evening, all of which are propagating these ideas.

No wonder it is so hard to get the attention of our employees and then getting them to follow in the direction that we as managers are trying to lead them.

This is where we need to stop and assess our individual restaurant.
Do we have a clear plan as to where we are going, or are we as lost as our employees?
It is here that we have the opportunity to lead our employees and our business.
The better managers not only teach the basics of quality , service and cleanliness, but intertwine what I call "The culture of the restaurant."

The Culture sets the tone for every aspect of the business, and can best be explained by a new set of questions.

Now, the questions that are being asked, by the employees that are part of the restaurant's culture, are quite the opposite of what modern society is preaching.

The employees are no longer confused as to their direction.

1. They know the ultimate purpose of the team is Service.
2. They look beyond , "What's in it for me," to achieve a sense of pride in the business and in themselves.
3. They continually strive to surpass their previous best.
4. They work hard to make sure everything is right for the customer.

My belief is that we have the ability to develop the culture of our business and ultimately change the culture of our time, one employee at a time.

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Tags: BillBaumgartner, Culture, Discipline, business, employee, management, mindset, skills


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Comment by Bill Baumgartner on February 6, 2010 at 5:02pm
@Betsy - I am very much an advocate of developing the softer side of the
restaurant manager.

I have seen too many "so-called-professionals" who severely lacked the necessary
skills to effectively manager their people.

Could you elaborate in more detail what you might suggest as a senario for a
"front house focused show." It sounds like a doable undertaking.
Comment by Betsy Fischer on February 6, 2010 at 7:39am
We have a full Front House Operations certificate program, as well as a Restaurant Management AA that focuses on everything BUT cooking! So important to have a combination of skills and to appreciate the soft skills necessary to create a positive employee culture. Only when Food Network comes up with a front house focused show will this other side of the restaurant biz gain recognition; unfortunately, it will probably be an unrealistic, glamorous or tacky portrayal. Betsy Fischer, Santa Rosa Junior College Culinary Arts Program Santa Rosa CA.

Comment by Paul Paz on February 3, 2010 at 1:07am

So very true.

These symptoms also come from our superiors of all ranks and not just from our hourly peers.

I had an interesting conversation with one of my peers who was very complacent about her role is the restaurant but incredibly charmed with her job as a barista.

Matt Milletto, Fohboh member and founder of Baristas Exchange, has done an amazing job of getting the barista pool to gel wonderfully as a professional group laden with esprit de corps.

One element that has added credibility to the baristas is that the coffee industry has done much to elevate the profession by establishing various levels of certification for the craft.

That certification is woefully absent for professional waiters in the restaurant industry. There are so many elements of job skills, product knowledge, service nuance that there has been little effort in this direction.

Even the almighty National Restaurant Association (NRA) does not have a plan or any rudimentary guidelines for such qualifications. The NRA sponsors the high school ProStart program which did much to highlight the culinary arts and restaurant management career paths. Ironically, it doesn’t do squat for the FOH career options. Their ProStart materials only have 2-3 pages about the waiter craft in their 300+ page textbook!

It will be an uphill battle to persuade our own industry of the value in elevating the status of waiters in America to a legitimate professional career of choice in an industry of choice, Restaurant and Hospitality, that offers unlimited opportunity.
Comment by Bill Baumgartner on February 2, 2010 at 4:22pm
@ Paul - Thanks Paul.

@Terri - Very nice addition.

@ Michael - I love #5. "Now that's what I'm talkin about!"
Comment by Michael Biesemeyer on February 1, 2010 at 11:47am
I have experienced several reactions to my attempts to be "excellent" in the workplace (specifically restaurant work):

1. Resentment: "Why does this person have so much passion and
creativity for this job and I have none?"
2. Jealousy: "I want his level of passion (but feel threatened by it at
the same time)."
3. Indifference: "Whatever. That guy is probably trying to
brown-nose his way towards a promotion. This job sucks, anyway. I could
care less."
4. Curiosity: What makes him tick? How can I be like him?"
5. "Support and cooperation:" "Wow! This guy's on fire! He is contributing to
the workplace, making my job more interesting, and elevating the
energy/vibe for all of us. I want to elevate my game, too."
Comment by Terri Hitchcock on February 1, 2010 at 10:04am
Perfect Bill! Robin Sharma's spreading the word with "Lead without Title".

As a business: Focus on the relationship with your customer and the money will follow. Care for the people and the cash will come.

It's all about the IMAGE -

Be Innovative
Be a Merchant of WOW
Be Authentic
Have the Guts
Chase Excellence in everything you do - regardless of what it is.

Comment by Paul Paz on January 31, 2010 at 7:18pm
Excellent, Bill!




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