How to Effectively Manage a Dining Room Team

Here is an article I did a while back about being an effective Dining Room Manager.I only know one thing that while I was a Maitre’d on the ships and a Restaurant Manager on land the best example I could do is work harder than everyone else at the beginning and set the bar high.
Any comments on the blog would be great.Good or bad.

To be an effective Dining Room Manager there are certain attributes you should have to run an efficient food and beverage operation each meal service. There are a lot of managers out there who are great at doing the paperwork as in making the schedules and calculating the food cost but if they do not know how to lead and build a team in the Dining Room they will soon find themselves unemployed very quickly.

First of all when you start in such a position you must know the reason you were hired in the first place. Were you told upon hiring what improvements or changes had to be made? What was going well? On one occasion in a very new restaurant I was specifically hired to train the inexperienced staff to serve better, thereby making them more productive on the floor. This in turn positively affected labour cost. On another occasion hired as a Maitre’d on the ship the staff was experienced so my main goal was to get the different nationalities working together as a tight knit group within a system. Therefore in order to succeed know what it is you have to do. Don’t fix anything if it isn’t broke.Now you know why you are there and what needs to be done.

The next thing you have to do is work every shift. Yes you will lose some beauty rest at the beginning but I have seen a lot of managers who will only work one shift such as the evening and not have a clue what is happening during the breakfast shift until it is too late and the complaints are coming in. You have to be there every shift to watch and observe your staff , system in place , how the food comes out , teamwork , presentation , just to name a few things on the list. Of course take a day off but in the first 2 weeks work a lot. See what is going on.During this inaugural couple of weeks help out in the dining room as well. Help with the expediting of service , table check with guests on how they are enjoying their dining experience. Never stop doing table checks. I believe in the hands on approach rather than the delegating approach. Even if it is doing something as simple as getting bread for a table or delivering some drinks to help a waiter who is in the weeds. Remember if a waiter gets swamped for a minute it is the guest who suffers. Put your ego aside and muck in and help.

Here is another gem to being a successful leader in the dining room. Understand a waiter will never admit to needing help even if they have 10 things to do , so if you step in when you see trouble before it happens and help out without being asked that waiter will be putty in your hands. Remember if you are observant and on the floor you can do this. Always be on the floor during service. This will eliminate all service problems and complaints. I know because that is the way I did it. Works like a charm.

Another downfall that occurs which causes failure is the human need to be one of the buddies. A lot of managers want to be liked rather than respected. To achieve respect do not socialize with your service personnel. If you want something done the next day and you have been socializing with that person you need to talk to , do not expect a good result. After all , last night you put yourself in a compromising position saying how great a person they are. You may get away with it once but do yourself a favour and keep your distance in a nice way. Your main concern is getting everyone to work together. Do not show favourites either or the others will see it and you are doomed to failure.

To develop teamwork you must talk to the group as a whole. Everybody has to be on the same page. Always if you want improvement explain how you want something done and why it should be done that way. People will want to know the why before they do anything different.

Heap praise on your staff. Even if you find very little at the beginning praise the good things so that they will listen to you when you ask them to do something better another way.

Assuming you are a people person , you should be sincerely interested in your staff. Find out what motivates them. Be interested in your guests. This is a people business. Work with your assistants and communicate with everyone. If you want to have people do things for you let them know what has to be done and show your appreciation. Be a people builder.

Train others by sharing your knowledge. People want to do a good job better if they could. People will beat a path to your door if you show them you care. Emphasize to your staff that it is all about the service.

In concluding , to be a leader of many in a restaurant demands your time , knowledge , and a fair dose of psychology but if you are willing to excel in all three the rewards can be great. Don’t just seek to be average , seek to be great.

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