To The Out-of-Control Restaurant Manager,
I’m not in the business of making people’s lives harder.
I’m the founder and CEO of a workforce tech company, and if anything, my mission is to make life better, easier, particularly for working people in this country.
But then, there’s you.
You’re the person yelling “Get the check!” to our server; the one pouting with arms crossed as you glare at the kitchen.
You are the one nobody wants to hang with after their shift. The one micromanaging every detail of the service and turning what should be a pleasant meal into an uncomfortable one; whining to the hostess, berating the busser, and interrogating the bartender who is just trying to make my drink.
That’s right. You’re the manager, and you are not managing.
Your restaurant is full of normal people– Guests! Can you see us? Probably not. But we are nice, normal, paying guests, seated at nice tables, in your nice restaurant; the restaurant that you are currently patrolling like a prison guard.
And me? I’m here with my nice family. My daughter is four years old. I tell her that sometimes adults act like babies. She is embarrassed for you. We all are. Life is full of teachable moments.
So. Like I said, I don’t like making peoples’ lives harder. I hate Yelp.
But here’s something for your comment box.
- You aren’t helping your people.
Has any of your angry advice ever helped anyone during a service? Did it inspire the bartender to make better drinks? Did it get that server to smile more? Did it change the flavor of the dish that had already been served?
I didn’t think so.
- You are embarrassing your people.
Your server knows he messed up. Did you have to make a scene about it? Your bartender had to redo a drink. Did you have to stare her down and shake your head at her as she did it? Guess what, they are already upset about it. They don’t need your shit, too.
And, just a question, when was the last time you were yelled at in front of a packed restaurant and all your staff?
Guess what your team wants during a busy service? Positivity. They want positive energy, positive support, and a positive attitude coming from you.
That’s your job.
- None of the guests think you are a good manager for acting like this.
Not even the frequent guests that you think like you. We are all kinds of embarrassed for you, and your staff. Your staff is just afraid to say it because this is a trending restaurant, and they don’t want to screw up their chances of growing with the brand.
Your behavior has an impact not just on your people, but the quality of the experience for guests. So, when your actions result in a nervous server – I feel it at my table.
I’d prefer not to.
- Don’t take it out on me.
Ok. I’ll be quick with this one and plus it feels like common sense…
Those stares you keep throwing around — keep’em away from my table. Go take a walk, have a smoke, compose yourself.
- You got to lead on good days and bad days.
You have a hard job. No doubt. And I get that you got a lot on your plate. Workers calling out. Cooks coming in late. Crazy guests. I had the same thing happen the other day with someone who didn’t do what they said they would. Then I remembered my real job is to coach, to help and to guide. It’s to get the most of out of the team because if they could do it without me, they certainly would. If your restaurant didn’t need a General Manager, then you’d certainly be someplace else.
You are stressed. I get it.
You don’t want to fail, and you really don’t want your people to dislike you. I get that too. You work hard to make guests happy and there is certainly a lot that goes into being a manager that many people may not see. And, we have never had the kind of pressure like we have today with workers that make poverty wages and guests that expect perfect every time.
Your job is hard. But, here’s the deal. You are the leader. You gotta figure it out. Take a breath. Take a moment to think before reacting. And, even, take a day if you really need it. Do what you need so you bring your best self to work every day. Enjoy the moment. Lead your staff with pride and celebrate them when they succeed and support them when they have the courage to fail.
Remember these are people, not cooks, not bartenders, not servers, not hostesses, not bussers — people. And, this is just work. It’s just a job. Your people are human. No one here is going on TOP CHEF tomorrow and odds are a Michelin star isn’t coming your way this week.
Let’s walk the talk about how the restaurant industry creates opportunities. Let’s be leaders in an industry that connects with so many people from so many corners of our community.
Let’s also remember what’s important. Remember that your people are here to support themselves, their family, and their dreams, and remember that your guests are here for hospitality, not calories.
What are you here for?
Please be better.
Please be a professional.
Please be a leader.
And please, just let me enjoy my meal with my family.
The Guest at Table #24