Managing people effectively is a multi-layered skill set that develops over time. It can be challenging, frustrating, infuriating, and rewarding. When any group of people are together regularly, conflict is inevitable. I often remind members of The Corporate Caterer community, “You may feel the people you are working with are impeding your progress, but you will have challenges to face and issues that arise with any group of personalities you are managing.”
How you motivate one person may not apply to another. Employee A may need regular guidance whereas Employee B may perform at their peak when given a lot of autonomy. Managing a staff effectively is no small task. We work in an environment where oftentimes the unexpected is commonplace. Amidst this organized chaos, skillful supervisors recognize that communicating the same message to different people must be tailored to individual personalities.
It starts at the top.
Consistency is key
Owner-operators, managers, and supervisors wear many hats. In a given day they may need to play the role of mentor, teacher, psychologist, disciplinarian, decision-maker, factfinder, problem-solver, motivator, and mediator. To successfully build a solid team with minimal turnover, consistency in managing employees, just it applies to your food and services, is a key ingredient. If your staff can rely on you to communicate with them and respond to their situations with consistency, they will know what your expectations are for any situation and they should anticipate the consequences of not meeting your expectations.
If we want our employees working to reach their potential, we have the same responsibility. Committing to being the best boss possible is acknowledging that we, like our staff, are a work in progress. While nothing beats real world experience, making the time to read books, blogs, and articles about anything related to “the art of managing a staff,” taking conflict resolutions seminars, consulting with human resource professionals and colleagues, including friends and advisors in different professions, is time very well spent.
A new perspective
If I am having an internal conflict about a particular employee situation, I sometimes ask a friend, family member, or anyone who’s opinion I value. Inquiring, “I’d like to ask your opinion about a situation I am having with an employee and get your feedback,” has led to useful insight and different perspectives through the lens of someone completely disconnected from your day-to-day operation.
Unlike our employees, we do not always have the guidance of a manager to assess our performance. As a result, being open-minded and motivated to improve as a boss is an important obligation you have to your business, your staff, and yourself. We are all a work in progress. If you are going to talk the talk, you need to walk the walk.
If you expect your employees to be enthusiastic, conscientious, and customer service driven, those in charge must cultivate an environment where nothing less is expected. Staff takes cues from their supervisor(s), as they set the bar for what is and is not acceptable. Decide what the underlying principles of working for your operation are going to be. Then live, breathe, and enforce them. Find the balance between empathizing with and coaching your employees, while creating a culture of high-standards and excellence.
In an industry, notorious for turnover, keeping a core, very solid, (well-trained) team of employees together is a slice of the success pie. There is an interesting parallel between long-time employees and long-time customers.