New Manager Is Not as Helpful As Old

A question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about getting help from new manager:

I work at an upper scale restaurant as a host. My responsibilities include things such as, greeting guests, and walking them over to a table that best fits their needs and requests, I also check coats for guests and am in charge of taking to-go orders and ringing them in and giving it to the guests, and many other things. As I do have quite a few tasks to be fulfilled throughout my shift, it can get rather busy and stressful. Especially on a Saturday night whenever we got busy like that, our old general manager would come over and check on us very periodically to make sure I and the other host didn’t need any help. And if we were very busy, he would stay with us during the rush to make sure everything was flowing smoothly. Our new manager does not check on us to make sure everything is smoothly and does not help us if help is needed. She only checks on the servers. So my question would be, how can we get/motivate our new manager to help us when help is really needed?  Signed–Our New Manager

Dear Our New Manager:

You are fortunate to have had a manager who demonstrated concern and helped, especially when you were Saturday-Night busy. Now you have a new manager, who does not do that, and you wish she would. Your question is clearly stated: how can we get/motivate our new manager to help us when help is really needed?

I predict you can. But before you take on responsibility for correcting her less good behavior, I suggest there are several factors you might consider:

  1. Correcting what is less than good. When I  was shown employee training at Disney World, I was impressed that no matter what was your job assignment, you should pick up litter you happened to see. That was good, but that was not taking on the responsibility of training the clean up crew. You probably have thought about whose responsibility it is to determine/assign your new manager’s job duties? It is natural and good of you to want to correct what you see that’s less than good. Wanting that is good. Every employee in your restaurant should want to do that. Taking on the responsibility to correct what is not good, however, can cause big trouble. Therefore, I expect you have not confronted your new manager.

  2. Big picture. Before you take on the job of motivating your new manager, might it be wise to focus on the big picture, rather than what you see as lacking in your new manager? Why? Because your attention to the big picture–what makes people come back to your restaurant–entails coordination of so many of you. And if you focus on what you don’t like about your new manager, it can’t help but negatively affect how you treat her and possibly also unconsciously sour you when you need to be a smiling host.

  3. Praise is akin to urging a course of action. How many times have you smiled and/or told your new manager when you have seen she shows attention to the servers. Surely she was assigned as new manager because she has a solid record of performance.

  4. Persuasion/motivation entails logos (reason), pathos (emotion) and ethos (character) and is best understood one-on-one. Reason tells you that getting help from your new manager especially on busy Saturday nights makes sense to you, and it should also make sense to your new manager if she were in your shoes. Right? Emotion is ever-present in how you perform your job of host. Surely your new manager realizes that. Have you informally talked with her about how you feel about doing your job–how good it makes you feel when you greet a new customer and when you see return customers? And have you confided your distress about when a Saturday night is so busy that you can’t handle all you must do? Have you quietly asked her advice about how well you are doing, and if she knows if there is a way to get some help at peak times? Character is ever-present to motivate because character is a matter of being seen as authentic and wanting the good for what is going on. Your goodwill is seen in how you handle your assignments, and also in how you think and talk up your restaurant. With these components of motivation understood, now here is yet another actions you might take.

  5. Staff agenda. In a one-on-one conversation with your new manager, rather than talking about how she might help sometime, talk with her about what might motivate the whole staff. In short, ask her what she would like have happen to make your restaurant an even more a place people want to patronize? And to be profitable? Such a topic should be on the agenda of skull sessions. Do you have any real time outs, where every employee talks about what is going well and what they would like to do to make it go more smoothly? What they might do to cut wasted time, wasted supplies, wasted energy?  How you all might make each other’s jobs easier and more effective? Sports teams have taught us the importance of skull sessions as well as huddles.

Do any of these factors and suggestion stir thoughts to rumble around in your head to answer the question you submitted? Do they cause you to ask which of them you can apply or what might work better? Do they make you think about all you are learning about the restaurant business and what you would do if you were the new manager? If so, you have an answer to your question. Working together with hands head and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. –William Gorden