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By James Cronk
great manager great team

Do you know what it takes to be a good manager?

I’m not talking about the type of manager that everyone gets along with – but the type that gets things done, knows a business’s goals and objectives, and achieves these goals and objectives.

The managers that are your best friends – the ones who let you get away with everything and the ones who always seem to have your back – are often the ones who have trouble meeting business goals. These managers struggle drawing the line between friendship and business.

And it is managers like these that can cost a business money.

Here’s my story of how I learned what good management really is.

Many years ago (when I still had hair and when it was still considered okay to call people ‘waiters’), I worked for a very successful restaurant chain as a server.

My manager (let’s call him Pete) was the absolute best guy ever. Everyone thought he was awesome. We joked around, hung out late after work, did fun things together like go river rafting. Suffice to say, Pete was the best boss ever.

He was so awesome, in fact, that one day when I wasn’t feeling well (I am sure it was the guacamole I ate and not the tequila chaser I had with it the night before) I called in and spoke to my good friend Pete.

He said, “No worries James, I will cover your tables.”

No big deal.

I even had one co-worker Tracy who wasn’t exactly the brightest tool in the shed. We called Tracy “Einstein” (and it wasn’t meant as a compliment). Einstein could never balance the cash outs. She was always either over or short cash, and never seemed to have any tips left over to give to the kitchen or bartender. Pete would always say: “No worries Tracy, I will cover you”.

Great guy, right?!

Well, one day, Pete was fired.

We were shocked. How could the owner of the restaurant (known as ‘The Man’) fire such an awesome manager, boss, and friend? Didn’t he know how awesome Pete was? Was he insane?!

And what’s even more shocking is that soon after, I got Pete’s job.

I gave up the huge tips I was making as a server in order to gain some management experience.

I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

Lessons Learned in My First Management Role

The first horrifying shock was the realization that I would work more than 80 hours a week (thus earning an effective wage of $4 an hour).

I now had new responsibilities, and new authority.

The Man clearly laid out what was expected of me. I won’t lie – after realizing all the new responsibilities I had, I was scared.

My first Saturday night was packed with a wait list of ten to twelve groups. What could go wrong, did go wrong that night.

First, the bar dishwasher failed, so all the glasses had to be cleaned in the kitchen. Then, we ran out of Mocha Kahlua Pie. For those of you who don’t know, running out of Mocha Kahlua Pie is equivalent to a hardware store running out of screws.

To say I was stressed was an understatement. And it kept getting worse.

One of my ‘friends’ didn’t show for their shift. They went to a concert instead, meaning I had to be a “pal”, and cover his tables.

The final straw?

Good ol’ Tracy didn’t bother to close each table during the night, so her cash out kept me there until three in the morning.

It quickly dawned on me why Pete was fired. It all finally made sense.

The Secret to Being a Great Manager

Pete was a great guy, but not a great manager! I learned a huge life lesson that night.

Being a great person doesn’t always mean you’re cut out to be a manager. In fact, sometimes managers have to be the bad guy in order to get things done.

Pete wasn’t acting like a manager who manages the business for an owner who writes the cheques. That’s what he should have been doing.

Pete cared more about being liked. Mostly, Pete was afraid of conflict.

Pete chose to be a friend instead of being a taskmaster.

A few weeks later, to ensure I didn’t suffer the same fate, I asked my boss about Pete and the key reasons for his dismissal.

Here are the five most important lessons I learned from him.

1. It’s a Business First

We all want happy, engaged staff who work hard and have fun. But this needs to be achieved with the understanding that in order for everyone to have a job and get paid, the business must be successful.

What does this mean? Growing revenues, managing expenses, protecting assets, creating customer loyalty.

All of this needs to be achieved in order for a business to be successful. And a good business is one that can achieve this while still having fun.

2. People Need Parameters

As the saying goes: if there is no fence around the zoo, the animals will run amok.

If each and every player on a team just went out there to score goals, who is playing defence? Who is protecting the goalie to ensure the other team doesn’t score?

Everyone needs to know the rules and policies around what they are supposed to do, what they can do, and most importantly, what they can’t do.

When a manager is too friendly and doesn’t set expectations or boundaries, people will take advantage of it.

If employees are not clear about their expectations, or what they can or can’t do, they will take advantage of the system.

3. What You Do for One, You Do for All

When you allow one person to shirk their responsibilities, it creates tension and unhappiness among the rest of the staff.

Why should they cross their t’s and dot their i’s if others don’t have to?

If you want to be a great manager and lead a successful team and business, you will have to learn to understand that favouritism will quickly eliminate positive morale in the workplace.

4. It’s About Risk Management

If there is a fire in the building, who takes the lead?

If the police show up, who do they talk to?

A big part of managing a business is managing risk. A part of a manager’s job is following policy and worrying about the little things. If they don’t worry about the little things, who’s to say that other big things aren’t going on? And how will they react when big things do go on?

5. When #Metoo Turns Into #Youfired

What seems like innocent joking to one person can be interpreted in a whole other way by someone else.

What used to be considered acceptable office banter is no longer acceptable. This is all a good thing. A manager must be ultra aware of what they say and how they say it.

Two co-workers telling dirty jokes is in poor taste. A manager telling a dirty joke is a one-way trip to court.

What I learned from my first experience as a manager.

During my time as a manager with that boss, I learned many great management lessons that I still use today. I learned how to solve difficult challenges, improve my team, and hold myself accountable.

Say what you will about a tough boss, but one thing for certain is that my boss at the time was definitely Powered On. He knew how to run a business, and he was successful doing it. Maybe that’s why some thirty years later, that restaurant chain is still considered to be one of the best managed companies in the country!

While Pete’s loss was my gain, I hope you too can learn from Pete.

If you are interested in learning more about becoming the best manager your boss needs you to be, contact the Cronk Group today to see how we can help you!

Like this post? Here are more on how to be an effective manager and employee!

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Download and apply these 10 ‘POWER ON’ principles and see immediate improvements in the satisfaction of your staff, your guests and your bottom line!

James Cronk

For the past twenty-five years James Cronk has been helping business owners get themselves, their people and their customers powered on. He uses a unique blend of creativity, experience and proven systems to help golf clubs achieve their goals and increase their profits by improving their systems, their service and their people!
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