For those of you who do not know me personally, I have a confession to make.  I am a huge history nerd.  This means that The History Channel’s “America: The History of Us” is taking up a large portion on my DVR.  I was watching the episode on World War II the other day when a particular statement from a General caught my attention.  He talked about the reasons soldiers fight.  He said that beyond all other reasons soldiers almost universally fight for the guy in the foxhole with them.

 

As a server, I can relate to this.  When the entire restaurant goes down in the weeds, you don’t fight through it for the sake of corporation or their shareholders.  You fight through it for your coworkers. You fight through it for those people who are fighting with you.  After the fight it is a bond you share.  There are many former coworkers out there I don’t particularly like as people, but will always respect because of the battles we went through together.  I would lend them a hand when they need it, because I know I could count on them when I need it.

 

To take the military analogy further, there are two types of managers: Generals and Sergeants.  Generals send you into battle.  Sergeants lead you into battle.  You fight for Sergeants and you curse Generals under your breath the whole time.  Managers who fight with you and for you as Sergeants make you want to fight with and for them.  Managers who command as Generals will find a staff unconcerned with helping them win their battles.  It all comes down to one very simple principle:

 

Strong managers gain respect by their actions.  Weak managers demand respect because of their title.

 

With this in mind, here are three ways a manager can transition from a General to a Sergeant:

 

Get in the Battle: A manager who is on the floor running food and bussing tables will command the respect of their staff.  You cannot lead the troops from the host stand or the office.  If you don’t find it important enough to join in the battle, then your staff will feel their battle is not important to you.  This does not mean being a food runner during slow times.  It means helping out when the battle gets heated for your staff.  If you are not willing to help your staff when they need you, you can expect the same level of help in achieving your objectives.

 

Show You Care: Serving is different than most jobs.  Most jobs start with an agreement to pay a certain amount for a certain level of performance.  Servers agree to charge far less (sometimes less than minimum wage) with the understanding management will put them in a position to make far more in tips.  That is why servers take the job.  If you show your staff that you do not care about the amount of tips they make, you can not expect them to care about the parts of the job they are making minimum wage or less for.  When you show you care about them making more in tips, they will care more about the additional things you need them to do.

 

Be Willing to Apologize: Servers and managers are both experts at apologies to guests. Both generally stink at apologizing to each other.  Managers are forced to make judgment calls that can impact server’s income on a nearly shift-by-shift basis.  Even great managers get these calls wrong sometimes.  The reason they are great managers is because they are willing to own up to these mistakes.  Nearly all of these mistakes can be forgiven with a simple, “I made what I thought was the best call and I got it wrong.  I am sorry.”  This goes a long way in showing that you care.  This does not reduce your authority, but instead increases the respect for the decision.  Trying to stand behind and defend a decision that turned out poorly is a fool’s errand that shows you are more concerned with being in charge than being correct.

 

As a manager, a vast majority of your objectives depend on the effort and cooperation of your staff.  Having them fighting with you makes achieving most of these objectives far easier.  Managers who feel they must have an adversarial relationship with their staff will find little help in achieving their objectives.  This does not mean that the staff must love a manager who acts as a Sergeant.  Sergeants are not necessarily liked, but they are respected.  The troops respect the Sergeant though because they are in the battle with them and therefore are much more likely to fight for them.

 

Do you work for a Sergeant?  Any Generals out there want to tell the other side?  Any other suggestions from servers on what they appreciate in a manager?  Any former server turned manager who wants to share some insight?  The comment section is yours.  Share your thoughts with the world or at least the very small portion of the world reading this.

 

David Hayden

Views: 35

Tags: Leadership, Management, Restaurant

Comment

You need to be a member of FohBoh to add comments!

Join FohBoh

Comment by Raymond Garcia on September 22, 2011 at 12:56pm

David,

 

I love this blog. Very good points. I really like how you related it to battle. Great job!

Advertisments

 

DEPARTMENTS

Social Wine Club for Craft Wineries

Smartbrief

Chains make chicken the star of the menu

High beef and pork prices are making chicken the go-to meat more than ever, boosting wholesale prices for producers and spurr -More

Americans continue to eat less fish

The average American is consuming only 14.4 pounds of fish per year, down from the record high of 16.6 pounds in 2004, Ben Di -More

JOBS & CAREERS

Posting a job or finding a job starts here at FohBoh. Call us about special $25 posting packages to syndicate across all major jobs boards.

National News

Rita's Italian Ice Awards Area Development Agreement for Kansas

Rita's Italian Ice has awarded franchise and area development agreements for Kansas and the Kansas City area, which extends to the Missouri side of the city, to franchisees and local residents Jay Miller, Jeff Miller and Pat Reilly.

Restaurant Sales Bounced Back in March

Restaurant sales posted a solid gain in March, and bounced back completely from the recent soft patch. Eating and drinking place sales totaled $47.3 billion on a seasonally-adjusted basis in March, up 1.1 percent from February's upward-revised sales volume of $46.8 billion, according to preliminary figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.

McAlister's Deli Signs Franchise Agreement to Expand to Cleveland

McAlister's Deli announced it has signed a development agreement with an experienced multi-unit operator to develop three restaurants in the Cleveland, Ohio, area - the brand's first locations in the market.

Restaurant Trends - Growing And Emerging Concepts - Change and Activity April 16, 2014

Update from Restaurantchains.net on growing and emerging restaurant concepts

Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Inc. Announces CFO Departure in May

The company has commenced a search for Mr. Hope’s successor, reviewing both internal and external candidates. Mr. Hope will assist in the transition of duties to an interim CFO and will remain a consultant to the company through the summer.

CROWD FUNDING

If you are looking for capital to start or grow your restaurant, create the next 501c3, develop and launch the next app for the restaurant industry,or want to help your peers in some meaningful way, we want to know about it.

TED TALKS VIDEO

TED: Norman Spack: How I help transgender teens become who they want to be - Norman Spack (2013)

Puberty is an awkward time for just about everybody, but for transgender teens it can be a nightmare, as they grow overnight into bodies they aren't comfortable with. In a heartfelt talk, endocrinologist Norman Spack tells a personal story of how he became one of the few doctors in the US to treat minors with hormone replacement therapy. By staving off the effects of puberty, Spack gives trans teens the time they need. (Filmed at TEDxBeaconStreet.)

TED: Jennifer Senior: For parents, happiness is a very high bar - Jennifer Senior (2014)

The parenting section of the bookstore is overwhelming—it's "a giant, candy-colored monument to our collective panic," as writer Jennifer Senior puts it. Why is parenthood filled with so much anxiety? Because the goal of modern, middle-class parents—to raise happy children—is so elusive. In this honest talk, she offers some kinder and more achievable aims.

TED: David Brooks: Should you live for your résumé ... or your eulogy? - David Brooks (2014)

Within each of us are two selves, suggests David Brooks in this meditative short talk: the self who craves success, who builds a résumé, and the self who seeks connection, community, love -- the values that make for a great eulogy. (Joseph Soloveitchik has called these selves "Adam I" and "Adam II.") Brooks asks: Can we balance these two selves?

TED: David Sengeh: The sore problem of prosthetic limbs - David Sengeh (2014)

What drove David Sengeh to create a more comfortable prosthetic limb? He grew up in Sierra Leone, and too many of the people he loves are missing limbs after the brutal civil war there. When he noticed that people who had prosthetics weren’t actually wearing them, the TED Fellow set out to discover why — and to solve the problem with his team from the MIT Media Lab.

© 2014   Created by FohBoh.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service