Are you an adversary or advocate for your employees? Hopefully, your knee-jerk response is an advocate.
But advocacy for your staff means in all aspects of their job, you are rooting for them. That means all of them. When someone does something wrong, potentially fireable, the advocate doesn’t ream them out.
Instead, an advocate asks, “What are you doing? You might screw this thing up. We like you, and you could be great at this job. I’m pulling for you. Please don’t let stuff like this happen again,” This is preferable to an angry adversary. Staff won’t listen to a dismissive or confrontational employer when they don’t perfectly fall in line. They will listen to the person in their corner rooting them on, guiding them like a mentor.
If you believe your staff is consistently looking to get one over on you, you’re in an adversarial relationship. I’m not saying you shouldn’t protect yourself from theft, but if you never trust your staff, they will sense that. They will perceive you as an adversary and will seek to take advantage of you. It’s only when you’re the endearing advocate who says, “I really want to hit food costs. Will you help me out with that?” as opposed to, “If you don’t weigh this cheese right, you can find another job,” do you get traction and progress from your staff. People don’t want to screw over their advocate. People do wish their adversary ill will. If you are consistently championing your staff, you will become their advocate. I’m not saying some people won’t still pull a fast one on you. I’m not saying you won’t have failures. Yes, some will disappoint you, but they will be fewer and farther between. The ones who last will be loyal, and leadership by loyalty is stronger than leadership by fear.
Your concern is mainly monetary theft from staff, so engage your staff in talks about compensation. Every staff member wants more money. You should want them to have more money via performance incentives so that THEY ARE the only ones holding themselves back from their raise, not you. And you’re pulling for them to win with you when you create an advocacy-based management and leadership style.
Advocacy management style means when your team member has a need from you and the restaurant; you step up. For example, a once in a blue moon late request off, a family crisis, or a church fundraiser. These are the moments when you should lead by example and take care of your crew in a big way. When you respect their outside life and find a way for your restaurant to work with them and their life goals and personal situations, they work harder for you. When they need help, utilize your business to help them just as you would if it was one of your best friends. Be that boss, not the boss you hated growing up. The bosses who give reactions like this destroy restaurants, “Come here, work and go home, if you can’t be here tomorrow, find another job.”
Having a standard that doesn’t get taken advantage of is prudent. Being such a hard-ass that no one trusts you or wants you and your restaurant to win is perilous. If you become an advocate and really live it, you’ll see the emotion and temperature of the room shift in your favor and for your pizzeria.
MIKE BAUSCH is the owner of Andolini’s Pizzeria in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Instagram: @mikeybausch