Boss vs Leader: Strengthening Your Restaurant’s Culture

There is a distinct difference between a boss and a leader. The role of a boss can draw on images of power and invoke elements of fear. Questions may not always be encouraged or may be met with condescension. Being a leader brings to mind those that teach by example and dig deeper when investing in other’s strengths and interests. Deciding to make the shift from a boss to a leader could be a valuable catalyst in the health of your restaurant’s culture. Practicing a few techniques can help develop healthy habits that will strengthen staff relation’s while encouraging an invigorating and fresh work environment.

Establish and begin to develop a personal and professional connection. This is a foundation that should be laid and maintained. Have a conversation outside of the initial interview and hiring. Listen to what their interests are, what they do with their personal time, ask how they enjoy learning. Be transparent with them and give them insight into your leadership style along with your personal and professional background. Make a connection and become human while still showing that you have experience or training that they can learn and grow from.

Once the groundwork has been established continue to maintain that connection by consulting the team and listening fully to their ideas, thoughts, and frustrations. Ask them how they would solve problems, this will help earn their respect while keeping them engaged and invested. Maintaining a humble approach will help widen your perspective towards problem solving and the crew can provide insight for improvement that isn’t always visible. This gives staff a platform to feel heard and they no longer are a cog in a wheel but part of the active process that impacts them. Taking this time to connect with employees as a group and individually allows them to feel involved and supported. Checking in on a regular basis or having specific times set aside motivates people and lets them know their voices have been given priority and space to be heard.

Delegation can be a tool that helps lighten the load of management but also one that can be orchestrated to play on staff’s strengths. Give someone who has interest in PR time to work with marketing and allow them to begin to contribute to social media posts. If someone shows interest in writing, start adding updated blog posts to the restaurant website. When people are interested in wine, have them come to tastings and help with pairings. This can take the pressure off of a manager to provide all of the solutions and resources for learning while developing specific skill sets.

Integrating new habits can require energy that thinks outside of the box as opposed to simply checking a to-do list. Approaching situations as a leader vs a boss requires flexibility and patience when weaving these new approaches into a regular routine. The long-term impact of investing in others can payoff in the attitude of a stimulated team. When people look forward to coming to work every day the culture becomes symbiotic offering an engrossed and fulfilling experience for everyone.


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