Another good article in Inc. describing one restaurateur journey to discovering how to successfully manage his ever-changing restuarant staff.Â
The startegy is illustrated by the conversation of twoÂ restaurant owners.Â One restaurant owner is teaching the other about human behavior and tendancies, and he does this by asking the other owner to place the salt shaker in the exact center of the table…it takes several tries before he even comes close to the center.Â The point?
Until you understand that [people's perception of the where the center of the table is located is different], you’re going to get pissed off every time someone moves the saltshaker off center. It is not your job to get upset. You just need to understand: That’s what they do. Your job is just to move the shaker back each time and let them know exactly what you stand for. Let them know what excellence looks like. And if you’re ever willing to let them decide where the center is, then I want you to give them the keys to the store. Just give away the f—in’ restaurant!”Â
…Leave any one element out-constant, gentle, or pressure-and you are far less effective…
It’s my job, and consequently the job of every other leader in my company, to teach everyone who works for us to distinguish center from off center and always to set things right. I send my managers an unequivocal message: I’m going to be extremely specific as to where every component on that tabletop belongs. I anticipate that outside forces, including you, will conspire to change the table setting. Every time that happens, I’m going to move everything back to the way it should be. That’s the constant aspect. I’ll never recenter the saltshaker in a way that denies you your dignity. That’s the gentle aspect. But standards are standards, and I’m constantly watching every table and pushing back on every saltshaker that’s moved because excellent performance is paramount. That’s the pressure.
The end result:
Ultimately, of course, the purpose of constant, gentle pressure is less to eliminate problems than to create a staff that is expert at finding imaginative solutions to address your business’s problems–creating a system that can anticipate and accommodate the patron who arrives late for a reservation, for example. Lasting solutions rely on giving appropriate team members a voice, as well as responsibility for making decisions. There is definitely an art to this inclusive type of leadership. It can take a lot more time than leadership based on “my way or the highway.” It demands dialogue, compromise, and a willingness to share power.
Employees want direction, often specific steps and direction on how to perform their job.Â Feedback helps employees refine their techniques and deliver what you, as the owner, wants.