Category | Leadership | 4 Qualities the BEST Managers Possess

4 Qualities the BEST Restaurant Managers Possess

Over the last 20 years, I have had the pleasure of working with and supporting thousands of restaurant managers, and have a clear understanding of what separates the average from the spectacular.

Here are four behavioral traits that highly skilled, and the most talented, managers possess.

1. They are skilled problem-solvers.

Managers make dozens of decisions each day. These decisions have the potential to impact employees, customers, vendors, and beyond.

The top managers understand that many times the solutions aren’t simply black and white and they are skilled at navigating the gray areas.

In addition, managers act with a sense of urgency when addressing any problems and issues. It’s not an over-the-top, maniacal frenzy (yes, I see this way too often). But instead, it is a calculated, intentional, and productive way of engaging with others that communicates the importance of the issue at hand and compels others to action.

2. They communicate quickly and simply.

With all of the moving parts in restaurants, it can be tough to break through the noise and communicate effectively with team members without hindering the workflow. Restaurants are very hectic environments where every second and every minute matters. But highly skilled managers have got it down.

When communicating with their team, they display a laser-like focus, expressing their thoughts quickly, simply, and with precision. By focusing only on what matters in that moment, they advise and encourage their team without stifling productivity. They don’t add chaos with unnecessary details that can bring even more confusion.

Employees look to managers and company leadership to set the example and that includes how communication is handled. If managers prioritize communication — such as consistently providing feedback, sharing pertinent updates, and being open to hearing input from others — then like tends to breed like. The team will fall into the same pattern, especially if their behavior is also positively reinforced by leadership.

One more thing about communication: Great managers actively listen. They engage in two-way communication, allowing someone to fully complete their thought before expressing their own. They aren’t formulating a response in their head while the other person speaks either. Instead, they’re taking in every single word. They listen with the intent to understand, not with the intent to respond.

3. They care about and work toward being a better leader.

Restaurant managers have a ton on their plates. But despite all of their responsibilities, the top managers care about growing and evolving into a better, stronger leader and choose to work on improving those skills daily.

Not only that, but they also recognize and acknowledge the general differences between managers and leaders. There are certainly some crossover areas, but all in all, managers tend to use their skills to plan, organize, coordinate, and motivate others while leaders tend to inspire and influence people.

The best managers I know want to expand their leadership skillset and often read, volunteer, have a mentor, or attend related conferences and trainings. They also push themselves to step out of their comfort zone each and every day.

4. They focus on changing lives

There has long been an ugly stigma associated with restaurant careers (hurtful and derogatory comments are sometimes made about this profession). It’s ridiculous and I don’t like it. ;)

The truth is that highly skilled restaurant managers have the ability to impact the lives of their employees and customers. They can (and do!) bring encouragement, inspiration, and joy into each interaction. They have the honor of guiding people to uncover, develop, and curate their greatest potential.

Restaurant management is an absolutely vital role, one that too often doesn’t receive the proper respect or admiration. This important role offers countless opportunities to collaborate with and motivate others and is just another reason why people are drawn to the industry — an industry where 90 percent of managers start out as entry-level employees.

Who better to sculpt the next generation of managers (and leaders) than those who have worked in similar positions and are skilled managers themselves?

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