Eight Signs of Undermanagement to Watch for in Your Restaurant

Does your restaurant suffer from customer service issues? Conflict between employees? Performance problems? Low morale? If so, it’s possible (and even likely) that these problems can be traced back to undermanagement.

At RainmakerThinking, we define undermanagement as the failure of managers, leaders, and supervisors to provide employees with regular high-structure, high-substance guidance, direction, support, and coaching. What is missing in most workplaces is the human element of management: managers providing direct reports with the individualized recognition and feedback they need to succeed.

When managers fail to provide that structured leadership, person-to-person, it exacerbates the very factors that make it hard to manage people in the first place. As a result, too many managers are stuck in a vicious cycle of undermanagement. But most don’t even realize it.

Most Managers Don’t Optimize Their Management Time

Most managers already spend a lot of time managing, but they are not seeing improvement or achieving desired results. Why? At first glance, these managers appear to be managing, yet still see problems crop up on a regular basis.

Our research shows that while there is plenty of leadership communication going on, most of it is simply not very good. Typical methods of communication are low-substance, hit-or-miss styles of communication that are ultimately ineffective: touching base, relying on team meetings for all of your management time, or relying on employees to let you know if they need you.

None of that is high-structure or high-substance! But this is what most management relationships look like. This is what I call “managing on autopilot.” It allows managers to feel like they are managing while problems hide below the surface, unidentified and unaddressed.

The Eight Direct Costs of Undermanagement to Look Out For

  • Undermanagement can be difficult to identify. After all, it likely feels that there is constant communication happening in your restaurant. But there are eight direct costs that you should be on the lookout for:
  • Unnecessary, avoidable problems regularly occur
  • Small, manageable problems escalate into bigger, less-manageable problems
  • Resources are squandered
  • People go in the wrong direction for days, weeks, or months on their basic tasks before anybody realizes it
  • Low performers hide out and collect paychecks
  • Mediocre performers start to think they are high performers
  • High performers get frustrated and think about leaving (or finally do!)
  • Managers do tasks that should have been delegated to someone else

Do any of these costs sound familiar? Perhaps you’ve been experiencing the symptoms of undermanagement for some time, and now they are unavoidable.

Fight the Undermanagement Epidemic in Your Restaurant

How do you break the vicious cycle of undermanagement? The straightforward solution is this: a commitment to learning and practicing the fundamentals of leadership. That means regularly scheduled, high-structure, high-substance one-on-one meetings between managers and their direct reports.

There are eight steps:

  • Get in the habit of managing every day
  • Talk like a performance coach
  • Take it one person at a time
  • Make accountability a process, not a slogan
  • Tell people what to do and how to do it
  • Track performance every step of the way
  • Solve small problems before they turn into big ones
  • Do more for some people, and less for others, based on performance

When managers practice these eight fundamentals on a regular basis, the overall culture of an organization is lifted up. Relationships between managers and their direct reports are grounded in real support and coaching. When employees know that their manager is committed, they know they can rely on them for the guidance and direction they need to be their best at work. When a highly-engaged leader communicated with their employees, it’s to help them succeed.

Learn more about the causes and costs of undermanagement in RainmakerThinking’s latest white paper: The Undermanagement Epidemic 2019