Micro Managers: They Ruin Employees

New Micro Managers In the Restaurant Industry

Originally posted to http://theserviceworkshop.com/micro

The restaurant industry breeds them daily. Micro Managers, are tend to be the controlling, out of touch manager that insists on knowing what every person in the restaurant is doing at every second. These are micro managers, they tend to like digging a trench and settling in the restaurant industry.

Why Micro Managers?

Many of the same reasons you have Restaurant Divas. A newly minted manager in a restaurant has a huge responsibility of being a major gear in the machine of a restaurant. These are the people that have to set a floor plan, deal with multiple guest issues and assure that 3 tables on a 20-minute cook time get out…all at the same time. This can create the notion that they have an aura around them like they are a medium or feel they are more important than everyone else.

The Truth About Micro Managers

The truth is that they are not more important than anyone else, they only think they are. A restaurant is a machine yes, but if one gear doesn’t operate properly the machine cannot function at all or will run very slowly. This is the case of one gear thinking it can do the work of others. Can it? Yes, can it effectively while still doing its main duty? Probably not!

So then why does the new micro manager think they can know what every person in the FOH is doing at the same time?

Well, that is cause there is a good chance they were a server before becoming a manager! Moving from a server to a manager is not an easy task. It is like switching to being left-handed after spending 25 years being right-handed. Everything changes and it changes drastically, as does the responsibility.

Imagine suddenly having to ironically look at the restaurant on a macro (big picture) from micro (a section/table)? That is what a new manager faces. They tend to feel invincible or at least 10 feet tall and the world of the building is on their shoulders. Welcome to the mind of a new micro manager!

This is why at one point you have had a manager that insists there is only 1 way to do the job…THEIR WAY! A micro manager can be considered an overly hands on manager to the point every movement you make they are aware of and that it is the correct movement. How a single person can do this in a restaurant with 15 servers, 6 bussers, 4 food runners and 4 bartenders on during a busy Saturday night is beyond our thinking. It goes on and has been experienced by nearly everyone at some point in their career.

What the Micro Manager does well

A micro manager is great at talking about themselves and what they do/did. They are extremely proficient on assessing every situation, usually with a bent to themselves as to why they “wear the suit” or the equivalent. They can also be great resources on words/descriptors on selling expensive items as there is a good chance they are prolific at selling. It is not of course only about selling expensive foods, but doing so with a smile.

A micro manager on the same note is usually also exceptional at telling people what they are doing wrong. This can be very frustrating for subordinates of the manager. Does anyone really want to be constantly told what they do wrong?

We think the answer to this question is a big fat NO!

Hence the reason, micromanaging in the restaurant business is an ailment that must be cured. Starting with turnover

Why and What People Leave (it might surprise you!)

Year after year the #1 reason employees leave a job is due to bad managers/supervisors. This is subjective. Good leadership is in the eye of the beholder, even in industries known for high turnover. However, if employees across multiple fields and countries mention this reason as a reason for quitting, it might be valid. Think to yourself about any jobs that you have left: What were your reasons?

It is safe to say, a group that consists of primarily restaurant employees will probably rank poor/nonexistent/drunk & high management is why they left a restaurant, let alone any business.

What the Micro Manager Doesn’t Do Well

The shortcomings and main event…

“In the Red Corner hailing from serving tables last week, the new manager that thinks they know it all!”


Having a manager that thinks they know it all and insists on telling the world (their employees) can be difficult to deal with and even obnoxious depending on the ego attached to this new manager. This sort of ego inflation usually results in a lack of trust and casts doubts about the competency of others, particularly of the people doing the job the manager used to do.

This holding in contempt is the base problem with a micro manager. It is painful and frustrating, especially if as a server you have a relationship with a manager as a server. Most change when the suit goes on. It is not good, but nature.


What to do with the Micro manager?

This is a rock that has fallen in a very snug place and is hard to get out. The new micro manager has much more klout with the GM now that they gave up the serving gig to be a manager. It takes a strong person to give up server hours for manager hours. Remember someone willingly went to a 50–60 workweek and took a pay cut to have power and a different long term path than as a server or bartender. Managers are the last ones to leave and first ones in the morning.

What can you as the server or bartender do with a new micro manager?

Options are limited:

  • See if the power trip ends or change happens (no more than 45 days)
  • Follow the above and quit the manager
  • Find a time the GM is vulnerable (do a good deed) and open the can of worms as an opportunity for coaching the new micro manager
  • Approach the manager when not working and not post-shift

Do not be violent or angry. Remember it is possible to not be friends anymore at work, however out of work is a different story. Keep in mind it might change your relationship with the new micro manager.

Many companies have policies against how managers communicate with employees out of work. Once, I had to weave a big web to attend an event with a manager and dear friend. The good thing is that as long as I didn’t mention it to other employees it was ironic that I took off the same day as this manager, but other managers understood.

What you do is up to you…just be prepared for the New Micro Manager.

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