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By: Dr. John T. Self

Are you a weak manager?

I honestly didn't think I was a weak manager, but in hindsight, I was, at least for a time. I found myself asking my favorite employees to do more and more while I asked the more difficult employees to do less and less.

Does this sound familiar to you?

If it does, then you should do something about it as soon as you can.

A weak manager is defined as a manager who allows employees to get out of doing their fair share of work by complaining and dragging their feet. These managers actually allow themselves to be "trained" by employees. The employees know that if they complain enough, this kind of manager will find it too much trouble to ask them again. They are virtually training them to go to their favorite employees who usually accept being asked to do extra work with no hassles or protests.

At least for a time. After a while, these same employees get smart. No matter how naive, they understand why they keep being asked to do more and they resent it. I am convinced that many good employees are turned into bad employees through this unfortunate means.

All of your employees know who gets out of work and why. They also know which managers can be manipulated by complaining. These managers run the risk of being popular, but only in their own mind. While they may be perceived as a "nice" or "soft", they are ultimately ineffective. The bottom line is good employees resent lazy employees, but they resent "weak" managers even more because they know the manager could and should put a stop to it.

The key is to treat your employees equally. Doing this will be a hassle at first, but force yourself to ask even difficult employees to do things you would normally only ask of certain favorite staff. Some employees will resist the new you. They will think you are turning on them and being unfair. But you will be doing the entire restaurant a great service by making it run more efficiently and fairly and you will have greatly strengthened your management team.

The result will be improved morale for everyone and I guarantee that you will be a far better manager.

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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