employee engagement

The Traits of a Good Restaurant Manager

You’ve probably heard the saying, “Employees don’t leave companies, they leave managers.” One study found that 75% of people quit a job to get away from their manager. It’s an important point to remember in our current labor crunch. 

Here’s another interesting fact: 90% of restaurant managers started in entry-level positions. So, what happens along the way? And what turns some employees into great managers that inspire and others into tyrants? Is there a secret sauce or a personality trait? Perhaps, some were fortunate to come across an employer who believed in the art of training rather than the “sink or swim” approach. 

Here’s what we do know: great managers motivate and appreciate their team members, inspiring them to be their best at work and as people. Let’s explore what to look for in a person that possesses that elusive trait of knowing how to manage others and a business, and how to help them excel. 

The Importance of Hiring the Right Manager

According to the National Restaurant Association, recruiting and training a new manager can cost up to $15,000. That, of course, doesn’t take into account the incredible hardship and lost profits that can occur if you choose the wrong person. Some restauranteurs lean toward hiring managers with extensive experience. Others believe in promoting their best employees and teaching them the ropes. 

Promoting from within your establishment can save time and money, boost employee morale, and reduce turnovers. It creates a culture of respect, growth, dedication, and motivation, giving employees a look into the industry as a possible career choice. Unlike external applicants, they know your restaurant, staff, and customers.  

What to Look for In an Existing Employee

While being on time, arriving in good spirits, and providing excellent customer service are important attributes, as you know, there’s much more to being a manager. Consider the following when hiring from within your restaurant: 

  • Which staff member maintains their cool under pressure?
  • Do other employees respect them and look to them for guidance? 
  • Do they demonstrate strong leadership skills?
  • Are they quick learners and confident in their knowledge?
  • Do they possess the qualities that can instill confidence in others?
  • Do they align with your restaurant’s culture and values?
  • Can you trust them?

The Training Grounds

Restaurant managers have an incredible load on their shoulders and often do not have enough hours in the day to complete their many tasks. This is one of the reasons you’ll often find the manager in the back office crunching numbers. Unfortunately, this means that the staff is left without someone to turn to in the event of a challenging customer, an injured employee, or one of the many other unexpected occurrences that are a daily part of the restaurant environment.

This is one of the best lessons a new manager can learn: don’t hide. Going through reports and benchmarks is left for very slow periods.

In addition to staying visible, they’ll need to gain experience with scheduling, finances, and keeping meal service flowing, challenging undertakings for even the most seasoned leader. Handling unhappy guests and responding to online reviews in the appropriate manner also fall under their responsibilities. 

A successful manager knows how to train staff and maintains strong communication. They work closely with the chef and kitchen manager regarding inventory, purchasing, and menu planning. And much more. 

Because of the fast pace of the restaurant industry and the incredible number of tasks managers perform, many find that they learn as they go instead of undergoing a formal training period. Of course, hands-on management training means there will be some mistakes along the way, but with perseverance, your employee-turned-manager may become one of your greatest assets. 


What 3 qualities make a good restaurant manager?

A few essential qualities in a good restaurant manager include leadership, a good attitude even in the face of challenges, and a passion for the industry and the establishment they manage. Restaurant managers also need to excel in time management, creating standardized processes that can be repeated. 

What should I look for when hiring a restaurant manager?

Every restaurant runs a little differently, which means there will be some learning involved no matter how much experience a manager has. In fact, many restauranteurs look more for key traits than precise knowledge. Critical skills include problem-solving, strong decision-making, excellent communication, self-awareness, and emotional intelligence.

employee engagement
  • Subscribe to our latest insights


Are you capital raise ready?