This month, it’s time to tighten up, or it’s time to loosen up. Think about all the things you are fanatically interested in and even maniacal about. Loosen up on that stuff a little bit. If you’re an absolute stickler for punctuality and never being your REAL self in front of staff, maybe loosen up a skosh. If you are way too loose and drink with your staff, tighten that up and stop the lack of professionalism. If you’re a passionate chef who knows every nuance of fermentation and live it 24/7, never compromising your quality, it’s time to be passionate about something that’s lacking. Make sure your frontage and aesthetic are as tight as your recipe. Go into the front of the house and make sure your mats and your menu look clean. It’s time to dabble in something that ain’t your thing.
Because you need to be well-rounded to survive, you could be the absolute crème de la crème of a pizzaiolo and still be using non-branded pizza boxes that make you look bland and cookie cutter. And that means you need to tighten up on your branding. And understand that this is a multifaceted business. Have the courage to suck at something and not be the absolute dominating force of what you know so well. Swallow the humility pill to do something you’re not that great at.
Here’s the thing, though, nothing is really that hard if you give it time. Do you have a remote control at home? Of course you do. Do you know where the ON button, volume up, and channel down are without looking at them? I’m willing to bet you do. You’ve built up muscle memory by flicking and changing the remote over time. Develop that muscle memory in something else. Social media, HR, baking a style not your own, or any litany of things that just ain’t your bag today but could quickly become your bag with a few months of muscle memory and tightening up.
Allow yourself to loosen up on some of the stuff you’re being a little bit too serious about. I get that this is most likely your business, your money, your shot at doing it right, and being anything less than all-in intensity each day means dropping the ball; I’ve learned that’s not true. Don’t suffocate your staff and loosen up some things you micromanage to see if they thrive without your control. You might find some others do your thing better, which will take humility to allow. Some might do it ok, but not as good as you, but that’s also ok because it means they’re growing and you are developing. It’s when everyone gets locked into their box that things grow stale, and before you know it, everything sucks, and no one cares because the cog in the machine approach grows old quicker than you’d think. Encourage your management team to do this as well. The managers who know the POS like the back of their hands but can’t run the oven should meet the heat in the kitchen. The manager who everyone is afraid of because they’re too brash, have them avoid bad cop behaviors for a month and see what it does for their interactions and rapport with the rest of the crew. Mixing it up leads to growth, and you need growth, and you need growth because the inverse is stagnation and failure.
MIKE BAUSCH is the owner of Andolini’s Pizzeria in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Instagram: @mikeybausch