Donat Be Your Own Worst Enemy

Working for blowhards is a bummer. Their caustic temperaments inevitably create toxic work environments, which in bars or restaurants, dissipate staff morale, undercut performance and foster the conditions for theft. Is it a leap in logic to presume that bartenders might find it easier to rip-off a jerk of a boss?

Were there a set of commandments governing the conduct of owners, the tablets certainly would include the following:

Get with the program. When the doors are open, rank has no privileges. An owner needs to think of himself as part of the crew and work within the established chain of command. Few utterances can derail constructive communication more effectively than the phrase, “As the owner, I think I have the right to...” Aside from stating the obvious, it’s typically followed by an emotional outburst. Especially when doors are open, rank has no privileges.

Leave the Jaguar at home. It’s a cruel fact, but most owners of bars and restaurants don’t live paycheck to paycheck like the rest of us. So how about leaving the Jaguar at home and driving the family sedan when stopping by the bar or restaurant? Likewise, don’t hold the staff holiday party on your yacht or palatial estate. Flaunting your good fortune can spark negative consequences.

Maintain the required skill set. When the doors are open, an owner can usually only perform one invaluable function, namely schmoozing the guests. Like a virus in an organism, when the owner strolls into the place, he or she is certain to attract attention from the staff, but shouldn’t that be lavished on the guests instead?

Cut heavy-handed comping. Doling out free drinks is expensive. It deprives the bar of sales, depletes product, increases liability and, more often than not, results in the bartender getting stiffed on a tip. Owners looking to make a lasting impression should hand out cash instead.

Avoid thin ice. Before engaging a staff member in a work-related conversation, make sure you know more about the subject than the server or bartender. It’s much better to hold off on a difficult conversation until you legitimately are able to better the employee’s chance for success. When in doubt, run the conversation by one of the managers first.

Nix entitlement. Owners may own the four walls and everything inside, but they should think twice before dropping by during operations to pick up a bottle of pink Dom and some tenderloins for a soiree. Even new hires are bound to notice that no money was exchanged. If the owner can bend the rules, why can’t the employees? If you need to exercise your prerogatives, do it after hours.


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