I Was a Bad Manager

Everyday I am reminded of what a bad manager I was. Well, almost every day. Whenever I sit down to crank out another post on this blog, I sit here typing away (not very fast, I might add), basically retelling all of the mistakes I have made myself, but by using examples of my dining experiences here in town for evidence.

Whenever I go out to eat, whenever I lecture my students, whenever I meet with consulting clients, even when I am making dinner at home with my lovely, ever-patient bride (can you imagine?), I find myself thinking back on how I could have handled so many situations differently.

When I was in a bad mood, or when customers were being extra annoying, or when people showed up late for their reservation–I have had more than my share of crabbiness, and lack of patience.

When I did not go out of my way to follow through on something , when I pretended to not see those regular customers at the door, when I walked by food sitting in the window, even though I knew it needed to go out, but just wasn’t feeling it that day, and I just didn’t want to. It was rare, but it did happen.

Every time?

I have mentioned in at  least ten posts that these things need to happen every time, but I knew in my heart that I came up short on many occasions. I WAS WRONG! I know better now (a little). That still doesn’t mean I won’t make those mistakes again.


It is somewhat easy to sit behind my desk and pontificate about the restaurant shortcomings around Portland (actually, it isn’t that easy), but I know that doing the right thing is not always an easy task. You still have to do it.

No one cares

The bottom line is that customers don’t care. They don’t care if you are in a bad mood. They still want consistent food and consistent service. And as restaurant owners and chefs, you want these people coming back to eat at your restaurants over and over again.

Managers don’t have the luxury…

Managers don’t get to be in bad moods. They don’t get to ignore things that need to be done. They have to lead by example. You want your people to be nice every time someone calls, or comes through that door? YOU be nice every time. You want your servers to follow through on every detail with the customer? You follow through on every detail–with your customers and your staff.

You want your employees to have a good work ethic? Show up on time, prepared, ready to go? You be prepared, show up early, stay late, and work hard in between.

We as leaders cannot ask our employees to do things that we are not willing to do. I have told this to consulting clients many times. I have had to stick my hands down dirty clogged up toilets, do mouth-to mouth on customers, clean up god-know-what off of tables…that is the way to lead.

Every time.


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