Directing employees is one of the hardest and most time-consuming things a leader does, particularly in a labor-intensive business.Â It is also the most important.Â Unless you work totally alone and have no contact with others, in which case you wouldn’t be a leader, you must develop the leadership skills to work with and direct others.
A number of years ago I hired a brilliant young chef to run the food service of a club I managed.Â The members had been clamoring for high-quality, innovative food, so when the opportunity presented itself, I brought Tony on board.
True to expectations Tony produced awesome food.Â The members were blown away and the rave reviews poured in.Â While I was thrilled with his food, it wasn’t long before I sensed that all was not right in the kitchen.
The Dining Room Manager came to me several times to tell me that Tony repeatedly blew up at the wait staff.Â It finally got so bad that waiters were afraid to go into the kitchen.Â There was even a case of his blowing up at a housekeeper who was getting her employee meal.Â I also noticed that the kitchen seemed to be a revolving door for cooks and dishwashers.
I finally called one of the recently resigned cooks to find out what was going on.Â He said that Tony never trained his kitchen staff and rarely communicated his goals or requirements.Â He also said Tony was a hard worker, but was often moody and didn’t seem to trust his employees.Â As a result, Tony felt he had to be in the kitchen at all hours.Â His temper became shorter and shorter as he understandably began to burn out.Â While I repeatedly encouraged him to take time off and to soften his approach to his employees, he was clearly unreceptive to counsel.
Less than six months after he was hired, Tony suddenly quit.Â The job had taken a tremendous toll on him physically and emotionally.Â While Tony’s cooking was spectacular, his leadership and interpersonal skills were sadly lacking.Â He had alienated other departments and his own staff was happy to see him go.
In many ways Tony’s story was a tragedy.Â He was incredibly talented, yet had a serious overarching flaw.Â He could not direct or even get along with others.Â Repeated counseling could not help him see the light.Â I could only hope that someday his disappointments would cause him to examine this failing.
People are complex and unique.Â They have their own ideas, experiences, and problems.Â As a leader you have to get them to accept the goals, standards, procedures, and culture of the company.Â If you do nothing else well as a leader, you must manage people well.Â The following ideas will help you to direct your employees:
- Telling an employee to do something is only the first and smallest part of the job.Â Constantly remind your employees of the important things.Â What is seen as important to you becomes important to them.Â Never give the excuse that you told an employee to do something – check to ensure that it was done and done right.Â Check and double-check.
- When you tell employees to do something, set a deadline or give priorities, so they have some sense of how important or urgent the matter is.Â If you have a deadline or require a response, say so.
- Get out and move about.Â If you are in your office all day, you are not doing your job.Â You should be “out and about” 60-70% of your time – checking and double-checking.Â Being actively involved in your operation sends a powerful message to employees.Â It says you care about what is going on.
- Explain the “big picture” to your employees.Â They need to understand how their efforts contribute to the larger goals of the company.
- Never raise your voice or lose control when directing employees.
- You may correct employees’ work or behavior, but never be demeaning or criticize them personally.Â Employees’ self-esteem is essential to their success and yours.
- Never correct employees before you have determined all the facts.Â Don’t allow your biases and assumptions to blind you to other perspectives.Â Consult with other leaders to gain fresh perspectives on particularly difficult situations.
- Rules and standards should be spelled out in detail, talked about often, and enforced.Â If you don’t enforce them, you might as well not have them.Â Nobody likes to play the bad guy, but it’s preferable to being wishy-washy.Â If your employees know where you stand and you’re consistent, there is no confusion.
While you will undoubtedly have some problem employees whose dedication, skills, attitude, or enthusiasm are lacking, these must be treated as the exception.Â If you have many such employees, it may be a reflection of your leadership.
Ed Rehkopf, excerpted from Leadership on the Line:Â A Guide for Front Line Supervisors, Business Owners and Emerging Leaders, 2nd ed.
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This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers â€” those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking club managers throughout the country and around the world.
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