Leadership: Empowering Others

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Provide the power and watch your staff come to life.

“If you don’t understand that you work for your mislabeled ‘subordinates,’ then you know nothing of leadership. You know only tyranny.” -Dee Hock

You have two choices as a manager.  You can force every staff member to do things as you would do them or you can encourage them to achieve the results you want to achieve.  The first choice will force you into a great deal of resistance and move you further from your goal.  The second will reduce your stress as your staff finds innovative new ways to achieve your shared goal.  In the past I have addressed the desire for autonomy as a vital motivating force for restaurant employees.  Today I will address it from the perspective of a leader and how it benefits the leader as well.

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Management Mentality Mistakes

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Motivating servers is a tricky business.  Without question servers crave autonomy and tend to resist being told what to do.  At the same time, managers in general are given very little guidance on what is perhaps the most important part of their jobs.  Two similar restaurants in the same company with the same menu and with the same amount of sales can produce radically different results.  The difference generally boils down to leadership.

Restaurants go to tremendous lengths to train managers on how to control costs, increase profits, and manage the balance sheets.  Very little time is spent on developing skills for leading a staff.    Recruiters look for management skills, but seldom can assess accurately the leadership traits that are effective in a restaurant.  To make matters worse, a manager starting out with the best attitude can lose it after months of the daily rigors of the job wearing them down.   To prevent this it is vital to keep a continuous focus on training for leadership and monitoring the methods a manager is using.

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What Motivates Servers: Purpose

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(Note: This is the final part of a six part series dealing with what does and does not motivate servers.  It is based upon research presented in the first part.  If you have not read the initial post entitled “The Epiphany”, I highly recommend you do so to fully understand the series.  Later parts dealt with how money fails and succeeds to motivate servers.  The most recent posts dealt with autonomy and mastery as motivators.  This post is best put into perspective after reading those posts.)

“The sense of paralysis proceeds not so much out of the mammoth size of the problem but out of the puniness of the purpose.”

-Norman Cousins

I have been writing this series for six days straight now.  With each part I write I become more convinced of the validity of the original research the series was built upon.  Every day I see specific examples of how autonomy or mastery inspires people.  Each one of those days I have also had misgivings about writing this post.  The concept of purpose is so immense and so powerful that summing it up in a thousand words of less seems a bit overwhelming.  I have outlined and re-outlined this post numerous times.  To conclude this series I will show how managers can create a sense of purpose for their staffs.

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The Epiphany

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Epiphany: noun- a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.”

I suppose there is nothing more simple or commonplace than scrolling through Facebook.  I was scrolling through Facebook today trying to decide what to write about for today’s post when I ran across a video my friend Drew posted.  The description said it was something people who manage employees should watch.  I have been reading and writing quite a bit about that topic lately so I decided to give it a spin.  In one video I found the most concise explanation of a phenomenon I have been trying to put my finger on for a while.

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Ways To Motivate Servers

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Given the popularity of last Monday’s post on management styles, I decided to follow up with another management post.  This may become a regular Monday feature depending on the feedback.  While I am a server, I have worked on the other side of the office door.  I prefer serving.  I enjoy making guests happy and connecting with them.  Managing led me to have to deal with too many angry ones and not have the opportunity to prevent the problems in the first place.  As a manager, you spend your day fixing the problems your staff creates.  I moved back to serving years ago and don’t regret the decision.

In my time as a manager, I had the chance to test some of the theories on management that I had developed as a server.  It is far more difficult than it seems.  I decided when I made the switch that I was going to be the type of manager I wanted to work for.  This is where my theory of “Sergeants and Generals” was born.  Make no mistake about it; I was a Sergeant.  I always made it clear that I would never ask my staff to do anything I wouldn’t do.  I was forced to stand behind that principle enough times that no one doubted it.

At my first management job, I instituted three very specific ideas to motivate them.

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