5 Steps to Being the Best Restaurant Boss Ever

Yes, I get it. Employees are assholes. But what you need to understand is that your employees are a reflection of you and your leadership skills. If you are a poor leader, that makes you the asshole and your employees are simply reflecting back to you what they are experiencing. So let’s fix that.

In the dynamic world of restaurant management, the ability to lead effectively is the cornerstone of success. In this comprehensive article, we will delve deep into the essential strategies that will empower you to become a remarkable leader when it comes to running a restaurant.

That includes how to earn respect from your restaurant staff, how to manage your restaurant as an authority, minimize turnover, and create an environment that fosters excellence. Here are the five steps to becoming the best restaurant manager you can be.


restaurant management

Set Clear Rules and Boundaries

I want you to understand that there is a big difference between being a leader and being a manager. It’s important to be good at management because things in your business need to be managed and organized and systemized, but understand that people follow managers because they have to. People follow leaders because they want to. They’re inspired to.

Regardless if you are in hotel and restaurant management, food service management, or an assistant restaurant manger, this will apply to you.


It’s that simple. You must be involved, you must be nurturing and you must set and enforce the rules. That means you need to be equipped with an authoritative voice. Don’t be wishy-washy and don’t be their best friend. Kids don’t need a best friend when they’re growing up. They need their parents. Same goes for your employees. Be the leader without fear of what others think of you.

In the challenging landscape of restaurant management, it’s crucial to establish a structured and disciplined environment for your staff. Leadership begins with setting clear rules and boundaries. Here’s a closer look at this critical aspect:

  • Authoritative Leadership: As a restaurant manager, you must lead with authority while ensuring fairness. Consistency in rule enforcement is paramount. Avoid the temptation to play favorites, as it can erode trust and respect among your team members.
  • Structured Environment: Employees thrive in environments with well-defined rules and boundaries. Just as children need guidance and structure, so do your staff. A structured workplace provides a sense of security, where employees know that the management is in control and committed to their welfare.
  • Military-Style Discipline: Consider the military as a prime example of how structure and discipline can transform individuals into a cohesive and proud unit. The discipline established through leadership is a powerful force that drives success.

The structure and discipline builds an amazing, cohesive group that takes pride in who they are. And it all stems from who they follow.

Equal Treatment

One fundamental principle of leadership is treating all employees equally. Do not play favorites. You do not tell one of your kids that you love them more than the other one (at least you had better not or I’m coming after you with a red hot pitchfork).

The point is, if you write up Sally for coming in late, then you need to write up Linda when she’s late. You can’t let her off the hook because she’s your favorite. This will lead to resentment and separation among your followers and they will lose respect for you. Enforce and follow the rules you set.


Lead by Example

You need to become that leader that gains your staff’s respect, gets them to work hard for you, and retains them so they don’t leave. Because that’s the most important part. Employee turnover.

That doesn’t mean you go out and get wasted at a bar after work with them. It means leading by example. The greatest thing you can do is to perform any task yourself that you would have them do.

That means roaming the floor when it’s busy and helping clear plates, refill drinks, run food, wipe tables down, go by and talk to the guests to make them feel welcome. Don’t just sit back in your office swiping through TikTok videos. Be active.

Help them make money

You have to help them make money. Pay them well, put them in an environment where they make good tips, but you should know that the reason employees stay or leave a company is rarely a matter of money. They leave or stay based on the way they are treated by the owner and managers and how valuable they feel and how much they believe that what they’re doing matters.

Effective leadership in restaurant management extends beyond authority; it involves leading by example. Being a manager who actively participates in daily tasks alongside your staff can be transformative:

  • Active Involvement: Engage in hands-on activities like clearing tables, refilling drinks, running food, and interacting with guests. Your physical presence on the restaurant floor demonstrates your commitment and work ethic.
  • Humility and Teamwork: By working shoulder-to-shoulder with your team, you convey humility and a willingness to be part of the collective effort. This fosters a strong sense of teamwork, where everyone feels valued and united in achieving common goals.
  • Cultivating a Team Culture: A restaurant with a culture of teamwork and collaboration is more likely to thrive. As a leader, your actions set the tone for this culture. Your active participation inspires your staff to embrace the same ethos.


Build Meaningful Relationships

Become that leader that gains your staff’s respect, gets them to work hard for you, and retains them so they don’t leave. Because that’s the most important part. Employee turnover is brutal, so you can’t be your employees’ best friend because they won’t have respect for you and it puts you in an awkward situation. Building authentic and meaningful connections with your staff can have a profound impact on your restaurant’s success:

Now, I’ve already said that you can’t be their best friend, and this is true. You can’t go out and get drunk with your employees and have them holding your hair back while you puke into a dumpster and then come in the next day and expect to have the same authority and respect you had before.

However, you will not believe the powerful effect that making authentic, meaningful connections with each and every staff member will have on your business. That means taking a minute when it’s slow or you’re all setting up for the day to ask how things are going.

Find out about their family and friends and what they like to do for fun. Encourage them to become better versions of themselves. Basically, show them that you care. Help them get whatever they want out of life, and they will give you everything they have. Human connection is one of the most powerful motivators when it comes to leading people.

  • Personal Connections: Take time to get to know each staff member on a personal level. Ask about their lives, interests, and aspirations. Show genuine interest in their well-being.
  • Supporting Growth: Encourage your staff to become better versions of themselves. Support their personal and professional growth. When employees feel that their manager cares about their development, it can lead to increased motivation and loyalty.
  • The Power of Human Connection: Human connection is a potent motivator. When employees feel genuinely cared for, they are more likely to invest themselves fully in their work and the success of your restaurant.


Implement Efficient Systems

Efficiency is the lifeblood of restaurant management. Defining roles and implementing effective systems is essential for a well-functioning establishment.

This goes back to putting systems in place so that the business runs like a well-oiled machine. The more you write out systems and define what everyone is supposed to be doing at all times–and on top of that, enforcing those systems to make sure the business is running smoothly–the more you do that, the more all of your employees will stay on task so that the customers are happy and you don’t have employees disappearing into the back parking lot to smoke a cigarette…or worse.

Put systems in place, define what everyone is supposed to do at all times and then hold them accountable for it.

  • Role Clarity: Every staff member should have a clear understanding of their role and responsibilities. This clarity reduces confusion and ensures that tasks are completed efficiently.
  • Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs): Develop SOPs for various aspects of your restaurant’s operation, from food preparation to customer service. SOPs provide a roadmap for your staff to follow, ensuring consistency and quality in your services.
  • Accountability: Implement systems that hold employees accountable for their tasks. When employees understand that their performance is monitored, they are more likely to stay on task and provide consistent service.


Boost Employee Morale

Employee morale is a critical factor in restaurant management. Recognizing and rewarding your staff can significantly contribute to their motivation and job satisfaction:

This one is super important and it can be super fun as well, because when you recognize and reward people, you can see their faces light up with embarrassment and pride and it injects them with motivation to try and gain more of that recognition and more of that feeling in the future. So, these recognitions can be small and they can be large.

You can acknowledge someone for simply picking up a napkin on the floor. You tell them, “Hey, I watched six people walk by that napkin and pretend they didn’t see it, but you stopped and picked it up. Thank you.” That does it right there. That makes them feel special.

Use Pre Shift Meetings

In addition, you can acknowledge someone during pre-shift meetings. Being acknowledged in front of peers is even more powerful when it comes to motivating them and cementing their loyalty to you and the business.

You might tell everyone, “Hey, Jeremy just won the wine contest. He sold the most La Crema chardonnay for the month. Let’s give up for Jeremy. “Yay”, everyone claps. Jeremy just won an Amazon gift card or a Starbucks gift card or whatever for $100.

Also, when it comes to rewards, you can get really creative with this, especially if you’ve made great connections with your peeps. Maybe Heather won a contest and for her prize you get her two tickets to Taylor Swift because you know she has 21 posters of Taylor Swift stapled all over the walls of her bedroom.

How excited would Heather be for something like that instead of a gift card? Might cost you a little more, but how long would you retain employees for? Forever. That pays off in the long run.

  • Acknowledging Efforts: Recognize even the smallest efforts made by your staff. Whether it’s picking up a napkin from the floor or going above and beyond to assist a customer, acknowledgment fosters a sense of appreciation.
  • Public Recognition: Publicly acknowledge achievements during team meetings or in front of peers. When employees receive recognition in a group setting, it amplifies their sense of pride and motivates them to continue performing well.
  • Creative Rewards: Get creative with your rewards. Consider personalized rewards that demonstrate your understanding of your employees’ interests and preferences. For instance, if a staff member is a music enthusiast, reward them with concert tickets. These thoughtful gestures can have a lasting impact on employee retention.

Final Word

In the complex and fast-paced world of restaurant management, effective leadership is the linchpin of success. As a result, by implementing the five strategies outlined in this article, you can evolve into a remarkable leader who earns the respect of your restaurant staff, reduces turnover, and creates an environment where excellence thrives.

You can implement theses strategies today to start being a better boss–to start being the best boss you can be, and then step back and notice how much happier your staff is, how much more they respect you, how much better you feel about yourself, and how it all spills over to providing a great guest experience. Win-win-win…win.

This journey towards becoming a better leader not only benefits your staff but also enhances your own sense of fulfillment and accomplishment. The positive energy and commitment you bring to your role as a manager will inevitably spill over into the guest experience, resulting in a win-win-win scenario for you, your team, and your patrons.

Leadership in restaurant management is an ongoing process, and your dedication to continuous improvement will undoubtedly lead to long-term success.

For better insight in to becoming the best manager you can be, look into taking my Management Masterclass here, or by visiting my youtube channel to get free advice on how to become a better leader, manager and how to run a restaurant. Cheers!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q1: What is the role of leadership in restaurant management?

Leadership is pivotal in restaurant management, as it sets the tone for the entire team. Effective leadership can lead to staff respect, reduced turnover, and improved business success.

Q2: How can I enforce rules and boundaries without being disliked by my restaurant staff?

Enforcing rules consistently and fairly while maintaining a supportive attitude is key. Treating all employees equally and avoiding favoritism builds trust and respect.

Q3: What are the benefits of building meaningful connections with restaurant staff?

Building connections fosters loyalty, improves morale, and enhances teamwork. It can lead to increased staff retention and better overall restaurant performance.

Q4: How can I implement efficient systems in restaurant management?

Define clear roles and responsibilities, develop standard operating procedures (SOPs), and ensure consistent enforcement to establish efficient systems in restaurant management.

Q5: Why is recognizing and rewarding restaurant staff essential?

Recognizing and rewarding staff efforts boost motivation, job satisfaction, and loyalty. It can lead to increased productivity and improved customer experiences in your restaurant, resulting in better overall performance.

Thanks for being here. I hope you make a million. I’ll see you next time.


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