Plan your shifts ahead of time

How many managers do you know that have no idea who is on their schedule before that shift actually arrives? These are the same managers who are never prepared for the possibility of being under or over staffed. Likewise, they never set shift goals, Things To Do, or training focuses. They are, however, the same managers who will complain the next day about the tough shift they had.

Assume shift responsibility

One problem that many managers have is the fact that they seem to take forever to assume responsibility or their shifts. They may arrive on time, but they have to first enjoy a relaxing cup of coffee, maybe a smoke or two, and even catch up on the latest store gossip. Some may even wait for the previous manager to leave before accepting shift responsibility.

Arriving a good 15 to 30 minutes early for a shift is more important than they realize. Instead of going for that first cup of coffee, they should be doing an initial brief walk-through, greeting members of their team and making notes for the shift.

Set the mood for the shift

One of the most under utilized methods of setting the mood for a shift is something as simple as a One Minute Team Meeting. It doesn’t take but a moment to pull your staff together (either as a whole, or if a larger operation, by departments) and communicate your goals with a positive mental attitude.

Great phrases include:

“We’re going to have a good time tonight!”

“We’re going to make our customers happy today, and here’s how… ”

“We’re going to be out one hour after closing tonight, and here’s how we’re going to do it… ”

Of course, you can always set other moods for your shift.

A mood of indifference can be set by not really making an effort to communicate with your staff at all. Likewise, a mood of tension can be set by going all out in your efforts to let everyone know that you’re a hard-nosed jerk of a boss, and that you’re on the warpath.

Part of your job is knowing how to create an atmosphere of excitement. Teams that are excited about what they are doing produce results.

Get organized

While doing your initial walk-through, take notes as to what your priorities will be for the shift. Check your product and inventory. Review your management log and communicate with the other managers. Use your operation’s systems, whether they be work station charts, party books, a.m./p.m. checklists, Things To Do lists or prep sheets… they are all vital.


There is no place for an office manager in restaurant operations. Be visable by practicing Management By Walking Around, however, don’t get in the way of your staff (some managers confuse the two).

Set high standards. Don’t allow mediocrity. Never walk past a mistake. Use timely feedback. Be results oriented.

Provide Ongoing Training

Too many restaurant managers feel that once an employee’s initial training is over, they’re trained. Operators who have this belief usually have an ulcer to go along with it. Realize that training is an ongoing process and is done with each and every encounter with your staff. You should be able to teach something new to each person.


Leadership consists of many things, including everything detailed above. But it also includes encouraging teamwork; giving recognition and appreciation; and setting the example. Don’t be afraid to make a decision. Your response may not always be the proper one to make, but at least you didn’t allow the decision to be made for you through inaction. It is much easier to lead someone than it is to push them.

(c) Troy Brackett,

The “Let’s do it and let’s do it now!” attitude is one of the key elements of success, but whether or not that attitude is a driving force in your restaurant is entirely up to you, as manager and leader.

In almost every instance, an operation without a sense of urgency is under the direction of an operator who has lost the will to win. Perhaps a better illustration would be the old saying, “A fish rots from the head down.”

Following are examples of how you can help create a sense of urgency and hustle in your operation. There are no secrets of management here, nor do you need to rush out and enroll in a night-school business course. It all comes down to a little common sense and simple management by example.

Tip #1

Get out of that office!

If you were looking for an office job when you took on the responsibilities of operating a restaurant, you were most definitely misled. If you aren’t spending 95% of your time working the floors, then you are out of synch with what is expected of you. And if you think you’re fooling your employees with that tired line about having too much paperwork to do, think again.

Tip #2

Always, be the first one to work.

It never ceases to amaze me how many operators will demand promptness from their crew, yet he or she will forever be late themselves. To some, it is common practice for their opening crews to be kept waiting on the sidewalk wondering if the boss will ever show up to unlock the doors.

Tip #3

Make sure your employees see YOU hustling.

How often do your people catch you trotting across the foyer to open the door for a customer? How often do they catch you rushing to take, fill, prepare orders – especially during slow volume hours. When your people come to you and relay a customer complaint, do you say, “Okay, I’ll be there in a minute,” or do you spin around and race immediately to the customer? Hundreds of possibilities here.

Tip #4

Make sure your employees know it (whatever “it” is) is important to you.

If you have an outside road sign, is it important for you to keep it regularly updated? How about when the wind knocks down a few letters – is it fixed ASAP or do a couple of days go by? Do you make sure any broken equipment is repaired within 24 hours? How long do your dining room floors go without being swept or mopped? How often do you check your restrooms? If you run out of a product for your menu, do you simply put up an “out” sign until the next delivery, or do you make arrangements to get that product in now?

(c) Troy Brackett,