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So You Want to Be a Manager

So You Want to Be a Manager

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Published by Richard L. Dixon

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Published by: Richard L. Dixon on Jul 16, 2011
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07/16/2011

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So You Want To Be A Manager 
So often in my 20 plus years of Hospitality Management I have run across individualswho become managers for all the wrong reasons because they were not properly trainedand mentored or they have some preconceived notion in the back of their mind that the path that they have chosen to take is the correct one. Most who try to enter the esteemedranks usually burn out just like James Brown and the Dying Flame.We find that the Hospitality business can be a brutal enterprise that is best characterized by long hours, ungrateful staff, patrons, owners, equipment failure, and regulatoryhurdles. Contrary to what one is exposed on the Food Network and Hell’s Kitchen, thoseepisodes are nothing more than a walk in the park compared to the everyday operationsof a Hospitality venue. Thus the age old adage “If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of thekitchen” readily applies to hospitality management.It seems that I have encountered those with the caveman mentality that true Managers canonly learn by Trial by Fire method. Unfortunately, only the brazen few survive the Trial by Fire method. The rest drop off like burnt out Fire flies never to return to theHospitality Industry as a viable career option because they have encountered multiplenegative experiences. Even doing these tough economic times, the Hospitality Industrycannot continue to afford the 200 % plus turnover rate that is all too common. Right nowthere is a shortage of competent managers and staff.Then we have those that announce their reason for becoming a hospitality manager is for  prestige, glory, and to boss their staff around. They have no idea of what it takes to be asuccessful manager. That encompasses sweat equity, learning the business from theground up, and having a healthy respect of humility. In fact, the definition of trueleadership is the art and ability to persuade your staff to accomplish their tasks. Respect isearned and not demanded, which means that your actions as a manager must be honest,consistent, and even-handed. This was the case a few years ago when I advised a youngwoman back in Chicago who know runs a successful coffeehouse venture. She thoughtthat if she hired a couple of managers to run her business without being hands-on that shewould be successful. However, she found out that in order to be successful she had tolearn it from the ground up. Hence, every morning around 5:00 am both she and I wouldgo to several coffee houses such as Starbucks and Caribou to observe the interactions between Manager and staff, staff and patron, and peer to peer communication. She thenworked in the Cyber Café that that was part of my operation where I worked inUniversity Foodservice. There were times that she expressed her frustrations with mytraining objectives by labeling me as a “Coffee Nazi.” In retrospect, I would not havechanged any method back then and even now. Eventually she grasped what she hadlearned and applied it to her own operation. She was successful because she wanted tolearn so that she could be successful. She was also willing to do what it would take inorder to get to the next echelon of success.

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