Martin Luther King Jr. was a social activist and minister who played a key role in the American civil rights movement in the 50s and 60s. He was able to lead millions through the civil rights movement because he painted a picture that was brighter than what his followers believed was ever possible.
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
Dr. King painted a picture of what the future would look like, and then he organized events that gave those who wanted something more the opportunities to get it. He did not do the work for them, but he created the opportunities.
ARE YOU CREATING OPPORTUNITIES?
If you think that doing the work for your team is how you gain their respect; it’s not! Your team is capable of doing the work. As their manager, leader and coach, your job is to paint a future for them that is brighter than they can even imagine for themselves. A future so incredible that they want to do the work.
We respect people and processes that make our lives better, make things easier on us, or help us to grow. Some of the best coaches or teachers you ever had were the ones that were considered “hard.” But those were also the same people that were able to help you level up.
Think of the processes of helping others improve and grow as “clearing the path” for their future. It is like a bulldozer clearing down trees and shrubs so construction workers can drive their trucks to a new job site and start their build. If the path had not been cleared enough for the construction workers to get their trucks to the job site, work couldn’t start.
In a restaurant, you can clear the path for your employees by giving them the tools they need to thrive in their positions. This could include great training aids and updated checklists so they don’t forget anything during their setup. You can also have well written, simple to follow recipes and build sheets so there is no confusion about what a plated dish looks like.
Providing equipment and tools that are in good working order and a safe, respectful work environment will also help your team do their job better.
If you can help point your team in the right direction and provide advice or tools that help them succeed in their job, then you are creating opportunity. When you combine opportunity with success, you will earn respect.
Just like Dr. King did. He helped people see a brighter future, then gave them the tools and support they needed to succeed.
This can sound overwhelming, but please don’t overthink this. Get to know your team, find out what they want, what they are struggling with, and then help them.
AVOIDING THE PROBLEM CAUSES A BIGGER PROBLEM
What causes such a large disconnect between where we think our employees are and where they think they are? Often, it’s from a manager’s passive aggressive behavior. It’s much easier to back off of a problem and hope it goes away. The problem is this rarely happens and then things escalate so much that you overreact. For example, someone on the closing shift didn’t clean something properly or left something out on the counter that wasn’t supposed to be there. In the morning you come in, take a picture of it, and then text it them.
That’s passive aggressive behavior; it’s avoiding conflict. If you put post-it notes in the walk-in for things that aren’t labeled properly, this is also passive aggressive behavior. I know why we do it – to avoid conflict. Nobody wants conflict and that’s understandable. But the challenge is when we avoid the small stuff, the issue gets bigger and bigger to a point where you just lose it one day and snap.
Instead of treating conflict as something negative and to be avoided, treat it as constructive criticism. If someone isn’t doing something as well as they should be or if they made a mistake, let them know. It’s okay to offer criticism so long as you’re doing it in a constructive manner where you are being positive and encouraging better behavior.
OPEN EARS, CLOSED MOUTH
Great leaders must also be great listeners. If you can master one skill that will take you further as a respected and trusted leader than anything else, it would be listening better; not talking more.
When you are meeting with a member of your team, remove any temptation to do anything except listen. Put your laptop and phone away, take notes on paper, close the door to the office and put up a DO NOT DISTURB sign. Listening is not checking text messages and constantly attending to other’s needs. Listening is active; not passive. Listening is hearing the words and processing them; not just waiting for your turn to talk.
Remember, this is about THEM not you. Resist the temptation to say things like, “What I would do is…” Or, “What I need from you is…” This only takes you back to conflict, which then leads to passive-aggressive behavior.
Instead, ask questions that let them know you are listening, you care, and you want to help create opportunities for them to succeed.
- Where could you use more help from me?
- Where could you use less help from me?
- What areas could I step away and let you manage without me?
In the end, remember that respect is earned; not given. Treat people the way you want to be treated. Talk to people the way you want to be talked to. Listen to people with an open mind and closed mouth.
Ryan Gromfin is an author, speaker, chef, restauranteur, and founder of therestaurantboss.com, clickbacon.com, and scalemyrestaurant.com. He is the most followed restaurant coach in the world helping Restaurant Owners and Operators increase profits, improve operations, and scale and grow their businesses.