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Bar IQ

Managers, Don't Make Your Bartenders Cringe!

March 29, 2011 By: Robert Plotkin


Working in a high-pressure environment like a bar, hotel or restaurant is bound to eventually fray the nerve endings of even the most stalwart of characters. The debilitating effects of stress often cause managers to make as many mistakes — unwittingly or otherwise — as those they supervise. After all, no one’s perfect.

Avoiding just a few of the friction points that plague employee-management relations makes good financial sense. To hasten the process, here are the top 10 manager mistakes that make their bartenders cringe.

1. SCHEDULING NIGHTMARES — Few people can maintain a positive attitude working split shifts. While occasionally necessary, splits are nearly as enervating as working doubles. Worse is scheduling back-to-back, closing and opening shifts. A few hours sleep is insufficient to adequately recharge one’s attitude. It’s the express lane to burnout.
2. DETACHED REALITY — Particularly vexing is a manager who, when the bar is swamped, stands idly by instead of jumping in and lending a hand. Often leadership entails rolling up the sleeves and doing whatever is necessary to get the job done.
3. TOO HANDS-ON — Managers who are flirtatious or overly friendly with guests or employees abuse their position and undermine their authority. Whether networking or advancing a social agenda, fraternization is a classic conflict of interest.
4. NOT HANDS-ON ENOUGH — Vexing also is a manager who walks by dirty glasses and doesn’t bring them back to the bar. Empty glasses are conspicuous players and should always be cleared regardless of the job description of the person who retrieves them.
5. HEAVY-HANDED COMPING — Doling out free drinks indiscriminately suggests an ego run amuck. Excessive comping is a costly practice that squashes sales, spikes pour cost and steps on gratuities.
6. INFREQUENT MEETINGS — Scheduling staff meetings only when there’s a crisis fails to create the support system employees need to work as a team. Occasionally schedule meetings for the sole purpose of advancing employees’ agendas.
7. PRE-GAME HAZARDS — Issuing reprimands or warnings before a shift — whether warranted or not — hits someone with a heavy dose of criticism before show time and rarely facilitates a good performance.
8. PLAYING FAVORITES — Managers who exhibit obvious bias toward select employees is a quick way to dismantle staff morale. For those bartenders unfortunate enough to be outside the clique, preferential treatment inevitably leads to inequity and turnover.
9. INPUT GRIDLOCK — Bartenders often have invaluable insight into what will and won’t fly with the clientele. Managers who don’t consult with their staff regarding drink special or bar promotions freeze them out of the process and numb their initiative.
10. ILLEGAL PROCEDURE — Reprimanding employees in front of others is embarrassing and loses you leadership points. When in doubt, opt for a private conversation. Public humiliation went out with the Newlywed Game.


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