How To Build a Manager

A few months ago, I wrote about how hard it is to find staff, especially managers. At that time, I discussed two ways that we were going to build a manager from existing staff rather than search for a new one.

Recently, one of my clients had a great manager pass away unexpectedly. The first thing we did after we got over our initial shock was to put together a Go Fund Me to help his family in their time of need. The idea came from one of the other managers, who then put it into action. I had never done this before but I must say that it really brought everyone together and reminded us all of what is really important in life.

Secondly, we had to determine how to replace a great manager. 

Experience vs. No Experience

In my previous article, I discussed the advantages of giving managers and potential managers/supervisors a simple motivational survey. At this operation, we had given the survey to all of the management staff a year ago, and we found it extremely helpful at that time. We had one manager in mind for the newly open position – the director of security, who had no restaurant career experience.

When I really think about what makes a great manager, I conclude that experience may be the least important factor. I consider these to be the most important attributes:

  • Trust
  • Dedication
  • The ability and desire to learn
  • Respected by ownership, peers and staff
  • Determination
  • Appreciative of guidance
  • Willing to ask for help

If a potential manager has these traits, it’s up to senior management/ownership to turn this person into an incredible manager. 

Where to Begin

Our potential manager brought a lot to the table; now, we just needed to determine what experience they need. Here’s where I plan to start:

  • Financial Management – Our new manager has to spend time learning how we are doing financially. They need to understand food costs, labor and overall expenses, and how they can sink a business if they are not in control.
  • Scheduling – Our new manager can learn a lot from our current managers so we put them together as weekly schedules are created (bar, kitchen, floor, etc.). This accomplishes two things. First, our new manager will learn about scheduling and labor costs. Second, this is a great team-building exercise. Nothing creates success like working one-on-one to accomplish a goal.
  • Station Experience – Our new manager needs to work for a week per station.
    • Serving – Learning point-of-sale tactics and guest interaction while understanding how to take an order, manage multiple tables and work with the kitchen.
    • Bussing – Bussing tables done right is no easy thing. There is some guest interaction but a great busser understands what guests like and more importantly what they don’t. A great busser who collects a plate with a lot of food left over will report to the manager that there may be an issue. Bussing is physical, and it is important for a new general manager to appreciate that. 
    • Kitchen – A week in the kitchen to the untrained can seem like a month. It is hot, it is fast-moving, and it can be intense. Certainly, there is a lot pressure to meet the demands of the guests. This is one area where our new manager may need to spend a few weeks so that when they are needed to step down the road, they are ready, willing and, most importantly, confident. 

Following My Own Advice

I am not advertising for this very important position. An ad can take months to get a reply, then weeks of interviews and finally a hire. In this same amount of time, I can mold a great individual into a phenomenal manager. It is never easy to follow your own advice because you know how hard it will be to accomplish the ultimate goals. In the end it will be worthwhile.