The Right Ways to Find, Train and Manage Managers

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Finding the right people to manage your business is crucial for success. Yet for many owners, it’s one of the most difficult tasks.

Many owners complain about incompetent managers and the difficulties of finding people they can trust. But why do these issues consistently plague owners? Jamal Afzaly of Lounge Eighteen in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, believes that most management problems can be solved by taking time to select the right people at the beginning, ensuring the proper systems are in place to train, and having strategies to effectively follow up on tasks that have been delegated. So, I sat down to talk with him about finding, training and managing managers.

Here are some tips to find the best managers and create an environment in which they can thrive.

1. Set up a Proper System

Ensure responsibilities for every position are clear. The most successful companies have training manuals and task lists for each role to maintain consistency in training. This helps accomplish two big things:

  1. It ensures no one will forget anything for which they are responsible.
  2. It will help you develop people faster.

Expanding on the first point, many operators complain about little tasks their managers always forget, and this is typically a result of not having those things written down. The tasks in hospitality are not complex but they are numerous, and the human memory is not always reliable when it comes to tracking all the little tasks that must be done. Instead of relying on the strength of a manager’s memory, which varies from person to person, train each manager according to a checklist. This will reduce forgetfulness drastically.

Read this: 4 Tips to Achieve Maximum Productivity

Systems also speed up the rate at which you can develop the people who work for you. A system frees you from having to physically be present to teach people, and it will ultimately allow your managers to train new managers and staff without you worrying if they’re going to work the way you want them to work. This becomes crucial when operating multiple venues and the day-to-day operations are expected to be overseen by managers.

2. Put Expectations on Paper

All my managers have a contract that explains everything for which they are responsible. Everything is written by my lawyer and the manager is expected to sign it. I even outline their expected behavioral conduct:

When they are on shift, they cannot drink. There is zero tolerance for sexual harassment, assault and theft. They are expected to be an ambassador for the business even if they are off-shift. Going to another bar, getting drunk and causing problems is unacceptable.

While many owners know these things are important to teach their managers, they don’t go the extra mile and have a document created that makes these policies binding. I assume nothing and make sure my managers understand exactly what’s expected of them on and off shift.

3. Look for the Right Attitude

I look for people that have the right attitude towards leadership. The best leaders are those who are willing to do all the tasks they ask their people to perform. They need to be willing to step in to help others and not complain if they need to get their hands dirty. This attitude is required just in case someone starts falling behind, doesn’t show up for their shift, or someone quits.

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Additionally, I look for a great attitude towards learning. I spend a lot of time training my managers when they first start out, and even after they are through their probationary period, I’m still constantly engaged in training to help them grow and develop. The right manager will always be curious about how to improve and take the necessary steps to learn when given the opportunity. When someone has the attitude that they know it all and they don’t need to participate in continuous training, it limits their ability to grow and develop with my company. I’m constantly growing and evolving and so must my managers if they wish to stay with me long term. It’s their attitude that counts the most.

4. Dealing with Power Struggles

Infighting occurs whenever you have multiple dominant personalities all trying to work in the same area. The larger your operation gets, the more this becomes a problem when managers are working simultaneously. Ideally, there should only be one manager on duty and whatever he or she says goes.

But there are some personalities that are simply too strong to work effectively side by side. For that reason, I think long and hard about what personalities I want to be scheduled at the same time. I look at each manager’s strengths and preferred working time and try to schedule accordingly. For example, some managers are strong during the day, and others thrive working at night.

I try my best to keep certain personalities separated but some big events require every manager to work at the same time. During those nights I’ll clarify to all floor staff which manager is responsible for what area, and I will be precise and clear about who is in charge for what responsibilities. This reduces confusion amongst staff and helps them be more productive.

Read this: The 3 Big Problems with New Restaurant Managers

Staff members want to be able to bring their concerns to the appropriate manager and taking the 2 to 3 minutes at pre-shift to clarify which manager is responsible for what is a life saver when multiple managers are working simultaneously at a frantic pace. To maintain a peaceful team, try your best to schedule the strongest personalities apart, and make sure your staff knows who the boss is for what area.

5. Teach People from Others’ Mistakes

I try not to waste anything. When a mistake is made, I try to teach the entire staff what was done wrong so everyone can make improvements, not just the person who made the error.

For instance, we have group chats via Whatsapp for each level of stakeholder in my business. There’s a group for employees, one for managers, and one for shareholders. In each of these chats, we talk about what went wrong and what we need to stay up to date on. This helps keep everyone on the same page, particularly during those moments when critical information is coming in at the last minute.

When you allow managers to learn from each other it makes the team stronger and more knowledgeable. This frees up much of your time from repeating the same lessons over and over.

6. Run Manager Meetings to Win

We have weekly manager meetings and I have a set format for how I execute them.

We start by talking about problems. Every department manager talks about the issues they’re facing. With the entire team present, we then talk about how to solve those specific problems.

Once we have finished examining our problems and identified potential solutions, we shift our focus towards the future. Goals are discussed, and it’s at this time the team will talk about upcoming events and new initiatives.

When we have a clear idea on the problems and the goals, tasks are assigned to each manager. I monitor their task completion by syncing my calendar with theirs so I know what work is due from them and exactly when it should be done.

Read this: Management 201: Do You Lack Emotional Intelligence?

After following this process, the tone at the end of the meeting is upbeat and everyone is excited. My managers are happy because they now have set steps on how to fix their issues, and I’m happy because I know my managers are doing exactly what I want them to do. Sticking to this format is where I truly run my business.

Kevin is an operations consultant with over a decade of experience working directly with bar, restaurant and nightclub owners on all points of the spectrum: from family-owned single bar operations to large companies with locations on an international scale. Kevin works with them all and understands the unique challenges each kind of company faces.

He is the author of a book entitled Night Club Marketing Systems – How to Get Customers for Your Bar. He is also a regular writer for Nightclub & Bar, providing information high-level operators seek to get the extra edge in their marketing, sales and operations.

He continues to write today, providing specialized information directly to nightclub, bar and restaurant owners from his workshops, newsletters and magazine articles. He is also active in the field, operating an inventory auditing practice with Sculpture Hospitality.

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