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By: Dr. John T. Self

Traits of an Effective Restaurant Manager

Want to get promoted? Here are 15 points to ponder that over the years have proven to be tried and true. I can vouch from personal experience that each is necessary to get ahead. I guarantee that your boss expects anyone who wants to be promoted to exhibit each of these traits. Incorporate each one into your daily management. It will definitely make a difference.

An effective manager:

  1. Is not defensive. If you are being criticized for something that you did not do well, just listen, learn and don't do it again. This is one time to just listen. In most cases, anything you say will come out wrong.

  2. Does more than is expected. Whenever possible, do it better than expected. If it is due Wednesday, turn it in on Tuesday. If it supposed to be written up, type it. If you get known for doing things well and always better than expected, your reputation will soar.

  3. Anticipates problems. Many good managers are good at putting out fires. However, what makes a valued and promotable manager is one who can anticipate the fire and prevent it from happening in the first place.

  4. First attempts to handle problems her/him self. Don't go running to your boss with every little problem just to make sure you get it right. If it is within your realm of responsibility and authority, handle it. If you're not sure about something, by all means ask for direction, but think your questions through and ask them all at the same time.

  5. Takes being at work seriously. It is great if you have a funny or gregarious personality, but make sure your humor is at the appropriate times. Your boss wants you to be effective at management first, humor second.

  6. Is always punctual. Your boss wants to be able to depend on his/her managers with no worry at all about whether you will be there on time. This should be a given. NO excuses whatsoever. Being late because of power going out (get alarm with battery or windup) or a flat (leave in time to fix it) just doesn't cut it.

  7. Does not let him/herself become a squeaky wheel. Don't get a reputation of complaining. Choose your battles and try to solve, rather than just complain. No one likes complainers.

  8. Understands "boss language". When the boss says something like "I'd like you to." That means do it and do it now.

  9. Learns what others are doing.

  10. Gets along with others.

  11. Is discreet. If your fellow manager or your boss ever tells you a confidence, honor that confidence. It is not worth the instant gratification to lose the confidence of your boss or peer.

  12. Does not hold a grudge. Get over it. Grudges will just hold you back and never let you go forward.

  13. Reads industry publications and websites. How else can you tell what is happening in the industry? How else can you talk intelligently with your boss's boss? Want to impress? Read what the trends and problems, movers and shakers in the foodservice industry.

  14. Gets to know his/her peers. You will be surprised what you can learn, and what opportunities will present themselves.

  15. Does not make assumptions. Don't guess. Your boss would much rather you know before you say or do something. Get out of the habit of saying, "I think it'll come tomorrow", or " I think she did it". Check to make sure.

Bonus trait: Dress professionally. It is amazing how important this is. Don't neglect this, regardless of how casual the dress code.

About the author:  John T. Self is a lecturer at The Collins School of Hospitality Management at California State Polytechnic University (Cal Poly Pomona). Prior to entering academe, Dr. Self spent fifteen years in the restaurant industry. While in the corporate world, he worked for several chains including overseeing six restaurants with sales of over twenty million dollars. He has also owned three independent restaurants. While at Golden Gate University, he started the partnership with Dalian University of Technology in Dalian, China and is continuing in that involvement at Cal Poly.

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