I just spent two fabulous afternoons with people who make my world go round – Restaurant Managers! I must admit I have this incredible love and respect for anyone who runs a restaurant. I have spent my entire career in the biz and I can’t even begin to count the number of valued relationships I have with restaurant operators.
Until recently, I have never been responsible for running shifts. I spent the majority of my career in marketing and HR for 3 different restaurant companies. My marketing background is anything but traditional. I learned everything I know about marketing on the street.
I graduated from college with a degree in Euchre and a minor in Budweiser. Actually I scraped by in four years with a BS in Education (more BS than education). Needless to say, when I got out of school I wasn’t the sharpest tool in the marketing shed. However I did learn something right out of the box that has helped me achieve success as a marketer in the restaurant business. Trust me there is no drum roll necessary when I announce that the key to great marketing is execution in the restaurant. Please don’t stop reading. I know this is more obvious than a Baby Boomer at a Jay-Z concert. However, it never ceases to amaze me how many companies seem to ignore this basic premise.
Back to my beloved restaurant managers… When I look around a room full of them I see the core of the American workforce. Hard working dedicated task masters who typically spend too many hours working and not enough hours with their families. When you ask them how they got into the business, nine out of ten will tell you that it just happened, it was never their intention. For many of them the old school approach has been the foundation for their success. Work hard, master the tasks, manage the P&L, get promoted. A logical progression…until now!
From my perspective the model that worked in the past is no longer viable. We can no longer command and control our way to prosperity in the restaurant business. I think this excerpt from Daniel Pink’s book DRIVE sheds some light on this subject:
Big Idea: Management is an outdated technology. (Gary) Hamel likens management to the internal combustion engine – a technology that has largely stopped evolving. Put a 1960’s- era CEO in a time machine and transport him to 2010, Hamel says, and that CEO “would find a great many of today’s management rituals little changed from those that governed corporate life a generation or two ago.” Small wonder Hamel explains. “Most of the essential tools and techniques of modern management were invented by individuals born in the 19th century, not long after the end of the American Civil War.” The solution? A radical overhaul of this aging technology.
We have a saying at TR… “Organizations hire for the position but the whole person comes to work”. While we can get away with just running shifts in short term, if we are looking for long term success it requires a different approach. As leaders we must invest in our people and I’m not talking about spending more money. I’m suggesting that restaurant managers spend more time with their team members understanding what they want out of their experience with us and what is important to them outside of work. I believe it’s our job as restaurant managers (leaders) to understand our team members’ goals, dreams and desires so that we can do our part to help them be successful. I don’t care if they are with us six days, six weeks or six years, it is worth our while to engage them and help them in their pursuit of a happy, fulfilling life.
Okay, I have been accused of being fluffy in the past, however the more I read and the more I understand what motivates humans, I think organizational leaders (including restaurant managers) should at least consider my point of view. In today’s environment we need to grow our people if we want to grow our business. For many organizations this requires a significant cultural change.
I will finish with a quote from Pink’s book DRIVE as additional food for thought (pardon the pun)…
“Perhaps it’s time to toss the very word ‘management’ into the linguistic ash heap alongside ‘icebox’ and ‘horseless carriage.’ This era doesn’t call for better management. It calls for a renaissance of self-direction.”