Let me set the scene. It’s a busy night at the restaurant. Your station has been getting slammed all night. The bar, the dining room, the entire place is balls to the walls busy. Your station, is on the end of a sandwich unit cooler and the grill is behind you, right on the edge of where the hood cover ends. Naturally, there is a trash can right there that has been filling up since 2PM when you walked in and started your prep work for the night. Everyone is busy, except for that one manager who paces back and forth from the office, where he surveys the security cameras (alternating with Facebook), the dining room and the kitchen. There is plenty of work to be done; the service well at the bar is filling up with cocktails watering down, there’s food to run and there is a guest complaint or two that he’s avoiding like the plague. Every time he wanders past your station on the line that leads to the back door and the trash area, where he’ll lazily drag on his cigarette, he looks at the trash can next to you, nearly overflowing:
Trash can’s full.
Trash can’s full.
You need to change your trash out.
I said, the trash can is full!
Or maybe he’s barking equally annoying requests at the servers who are weeded as hell:
There’s food to run.
Come run this food please.
We need food runners.
I said, we need food runners.
Most of us have had this boss before and he most likely annoys the living shit out of everyone in the building. If you’re like me, all you want to say is,
“Take the goddamn trash out yourself! You’re not doing anything else!”
This would be quite a cathartic experience and at the same time, it would give him something to do that could occupy him for just a few minutes.
I like to give waitstaff the benefit of the doubt, especially on busy nights where everyone is getting their asses kicked. Sure, there are plenty of borderline worthless servers, but there are also a great number of really, really good servers who on a busy night, just can’t keep up – if they weren’t busy, they’d run the damn food themselves:
“Yo jefe, run the damn food yourself, and go talk to table 21 while you’re out there – they were bitching about the restaurant being too cold. Oh, and table 37 was griping about their well-done steak being overcooked.”
I think we’ve always wanted to have that very one-sided conversation with a manager or boss that we don’t really respect, but none of us really do (if you have, I’d love to hear your story in the comments), and for good reason – this is the same kind of manager that feels threatened and would most likely can us on the spot. There goes our livelihood. But, nobody respects these bosses and there are far too many running around all over the world running restaurants and all other types of businesses.
Why are they so irritating?
Why do we have little to no loyalty to them as managers?
Why does nobody respect them?
Part of it is the fact that there is work to be done, and they won’t do it, but related to that and a bit different is the fact that there is work to be done, and instead of chipping in, they put out vibes that say “it’s not my job” – so do it! In other words, it’s below them.
This is one of the key differentiators between merely a boss or manager and a leader – a leader is someone the staff (organization, community) respects and admires for a whole host of reasons, but one of the primary ones is that they not only let us know that they are one of us and that we’re in this together, but they will also go to bat for us, or as I like to say – a good leader knows that the only way to get their team to go into battle for them, is to actually go into battle with them. Moreover, they need to be willing to take the first bullet.
A good leader is willing to sacrifice themselves for the good of the mission. The people around them know this, they see this and they feel it, and as a result will fight for their leader – even if they don’t fully buy into the restaurant, company or organization. People are loyal to people. We either support someone and don’t want to let them down, or we wouldn’t mind seeing them crash and burn.
To be a good leader, you have to put others before yourself. If you want your team to work with their blood, sweat and tears, you need to do the same and more – you need to lead by example.
So, if you’re one of those managers that is in the bathroom to witness a toilet malfunction that’s about to spill into the dining room, but would rather run to call for the dishwasher who’s buried with a stack of plates to the ceiling, just so he can come fix it, instead of actually trying to solve the problem – you’re worthless to me. There’s got to be a better way to spend your time. Go find a new industry where you can sit on your ass all day – there are plenty of industries where you’ll fit right in.
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