General managers are front and center of your restaurant—and probably your hiring crisis too. They’re the ones who lead the team, feel the pressure of your understaffed store, step up to cover shifts, address customer complaints, manage inventory, and, well, keep your entire business operating smoothly to help you earn as much profit as possible. When you don’t have a good GM, your brand reputation takes a hit, your customer satisfaction plummets, and your employees turnover faster—all of which can be detrimental to your business.
Given today’s economic climate, having an incredible GM has never been more important. You need a GM that can take on both administrative duties and leadership responsibilities to bolster the entire restaurant experience. To help you spot a solid GM, here are the key traits you can look out for when filling (or backfilling) the role.
1. Positive Attitude
The attitude a GM brings to work affects not only themselves but their employees as well. A passionate GM will be able to motivate their employees to do better by leading by example. This is especially important on days when business is slow—and even when it’s busy and everyone’s feeling drained. Be sure to look out for individuals who have a positive attitude as their optimistic outlook will likely be emulated by their employees!
A quick-thinker is someone who is able to come up with creative solutions on the spot when faced with a problem. Someone who can think on their feet will be able to make processes much more efficient, especially during high-stress situations.
In restaurants, this quality can be particularly useful when there’s a lack of supplies or manpower or when dealing with an unhappy customer. Being able to resolve issues without compromising on employee treatment or customer service will allow the company to retain more employees and build loyalty.
3. Strong Interpersonal Skills
A leader must have strong interpersonal skills, and a GM is no exception. This quality is essential for people who interact with both customers and employees. It empowers them to give great customer service and create meaningful employee experiences, both of which are critical to your business’s health.
When a GM is tuned into building meaningful human connections, they’re also queued into when to give praise and when to provide constructive criticism. This is important because this empowers them to boost morale whenever the team is faced with stressful situations and creates operational efficiencies.
In stressful work environments, hiccups are common. A GM needs to be able to manage these situations with a high level of patience. After all, the manager is in charge of ensuring that everyone is doing their job so that the restaurant can run smoothly—and that can’t happen if they panic (and unintentionally create chaos) when things get hard. They have to remain calm and composed even when everything else may feel off track.
The way an individual treats others around them, no matter their status, speaks a lot about them as a person. A GM who respects his staff and treats them like individuals instead of underlings is more likely to produce a happier team. In fact, respect was the top attribute employees voted as the most important in a survey conducted by Georgetown University.
When a GM respects their staff, employees tend to feel more valued and this will increase their loyalty to the brand. This helps to retain them and reduce the unnecessary costs that come with hiring new employees. Likewise, customers who feel respected will feel more appreciated and are likely to come back as loyal customers.
Having to deal with different situations in a highly volatile workplace can get stressful sometimes. This is where the GM’s reliability can be a pillar of support for the employees. With a consistent way of management, employees know that they can always rely on their GMs, no matter what hurdle they face at work.
7. Ability to Set the Culture
A great GM will establish and uphold standards—in the level of work expected and the culture the team embodies. A GM who can define and nurture a healthy culture is better equipped to align the team to business goals.
It’s particularly important for a GM to have a track record for building a strong culture among hourly workers because hourly employees often feel disconnected from their company. By making them feel like they are a part of the organization, the GM is better able to produce loyal and diligent employees.
A GM is a key position at every restaurant; they’re the backbone of a healthy operation. They can take your restaurant to the next level, but only if they have the qualities needed to lead through the highs and lows they will inevitably face. So, as you look to hire one, be mindful of these traits during every phase of the interview process—especially as you introduce them to the team.
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