Here at Branch Messenger we spoke with Caterers’ Lab Co-founder, CEO and Operations Consultant, Elena Akopiyants, about some of the weirdest things she’s seen throughout her 15 years of experience in the restaurant consulting business, ranging from fine dining to franchised restaurants. She’s worked with restaurants in Miami, Ecuador, Moscow and now Dubai on improving their operations to grow their business.

She recently wrote an article called 9 Habits Of A Bad Restaurant Manager. Her principal advice was that managers have to really understand what their role is. Managers need to step down to the same level as their employees if they want the business to thrive. A great concern is with the misconception and egoistic approach of managers thinking they are better than employees and customers.

We’ve shortened a bit, but you can see the full article in the link below. Numbers 3, 8 and 9 are our favorite picks!

1. You wouldn’t see them so often inside the restaurant.

Managers often “hide” in the office or inside the kitchen rather than spending time on the floor and supporting their team. Sometimes it’s because they don’t want / know how to deal with their team, or they don’t really want to face their customers and solve the complaints.

2. They think their staff is stupid and not capable of anything.

I sometimes have the feeling that these managers almost hate their employees, they start calling them names, give up on communicating anything to them, start telling all their customers that the staff is bad, incompetent, that they are “donkeys, idiots, stupid, monkeys“ and so on.

Well, guess what? You have either selected this “variety” of characters or failed to train them.
(These are her words exactly)

3. They don’t lead by example.

“Picking up a plate and carrying it to the table or doing the table clearance? Or maybe sorting out a customer’s complaint? Who? Me? NO! I’m a Manager, so my responsibility is to manage.”

This type of manager believes they are superior to the subordinates, better than them and they don’t need to get their hands dirty.

4. They play favorites with employees.

You can clearly see when a manager plays “favorite” with some employees while they terrorize the others. You’ll see one employee getting in late and getting yelled at while the other waltzes in.

Usually there is a code of conduct of the establishment and everyone from a dishwasher to the restaurant manager/owner has to follow them.

5. They don’t want to develop employees and always keep them in the unknown.

Effective and regular staff training is one of the core pillars of having a high-performing team. “But I’ve trained them already!” – some managers will say and this is where they are wrong. Train-ED is not good enough! Train-ED sounds lazy.

There are a few categories of trainings that should always be present in your restaurant – basic skills training, soft skills, cross-positions training (in case your barista calls in sick, the waitress might be able to save your day), new skills / knowledge training, supervisory training, suppliers’ training and many more.

Also, regularly conducting training in your venue will increase your staff’s morale and will motivate them more. At the end of the day most people want to learn new things and grow in their career.

Clear and timely communication is the key of running a smooth operation and by hiding things from your staff you are first of all damaging your business. (Please, read this twice!)

6. They don’t have a basic understanding of administrative tools or math.

The root of this problem, in my opinion, is in the lack of appropriate training. It happens when an establishment promotes line employees to the supervisory positions without putting them through a series of trainings that will help them to adapt to a new role. Way too often someone gets a promotion and performs tasks of a completely different position with the old set of skills that are only relevant for their previous designation in the company.

Elena strongly advises restaurant managers to have basic understanding of the Microsoft office and ability to make simple calculations. These are essential when it comes to the restaurant business, especially when it comes to cashiering process and its supervision.

7. They think customers are stupid and they might even argue with them.

According to Elena, “You’d be surprised by the amount of times I heard in a restaurant someone talking about their customers: They don’t know what they are talking about! They didn’t like this dish? They are stupid and don’t understand anything about the food!”

That can be true if you’re the chef, but then again, “In the end of the day it’s the customers’ satisfaction that will make or break your business”. Many don’t realize that the problem comes from in-house. Probably the front line staff didn’t spend enough time explaining the menu to a first-time customer and understanding their preferences.

YES – it is your fault! You didn’t bother to train your employees to do that.

8. They don’t empower their employees. (This is our personal favorite!)

How many times have you gone to a restaurant, asked a simple question and received an “I need to ask my manager” answer? Isn’t that annoying? I once had a ridiculous situation on that matter:

I went to one of the Levant cuisine restaurants here in Dubai. We sat down, ordered food and wanted to connect to their WiFi (many places even put the password on their wall or a chalk board). The waitress said she was going to ask the manager. Weird, but ok. We waited for 10 minutes, no password.

Overall, it took us 4 different staff members and 25 minutes before we got a chance to talk to the manager and get the WiFi password. By that time it felt like keeping it secret was a matter of national security! These employees looked sad and helpless, they knew the customer wasn’t happy and they couldn’t do anything to resolve a small issue.

Most people don’t want to know what your internal process of dealing with complaints and requests is; they just want a matter to be solved in a prompt and efficient manner. For this reason, being a control freak and not allowing your team to take care of the simple things is highly demotivating, unproductive and damaging for your business.

9. They never give positive feedback to their staff.
The ability to provide timely, specific, constructive and fair feedback is one of the key qualities of great leaders.

It improves the communication channels between employees and managers, increases trust, makes the team spirit stronger and motivates people. However, too many managers never provide any positive feedback to their staff, but always mention the negative ones.

So whenever something goes wrong or someone makes a mistake they get punished for it, which is fine. But whenever an employee does an outstanding job, helps their teammate, handles a difficult customer or comes up with an innovative idea – all these efforts pass unnoticed and unappreciated by their superior.

For some (hopefully most) this might seem obvious, but you would be impressed by how often one or more of these happen in a restaurant. Put yourself in one of these situations. Who would ever want to perform their best under these tyrannical conditions?

Please check out her original article for more detailed explanation:

Branch Messenger is a seamless way for employees to swap shifts, interact with schedules, and message coworkers on a private store network. This blog covers all things related to retail, restaurants, and hospitality.