Howard Weiss is one of the youngest executives at Caesars Entertainment. The Vice President of Nightlife Operations, Eastern Division, Howard is barely in his thirties and cut his teeth as a manager at the age of 23. One of the keys to his success and rise within the hospitality industry understanding why – and where – many managers fail.
“Most managers, especially new ones, are not prepared for the job because they are used to being individual contributors and not responsible for others,” says Howard. “The most challenging task in life is working with other people. As a manager your role is to engage with others, make sure everyone knows what needs to be done, and ensure they’re actually getting the work done.”
Failure to Build a Fun and Exciting Work Culture
Successful management starts with the employees and work culture. Many managers feel that the workplace must be serious, that employees shouldn’t be having fun while on the job. In Howard’s opinion, this approach to management is a big mistake. Whenever he hires a new manager, Howard has them read two books: Instant Turnaround and The Fish Philosophy. Both books focus on developing a great work culture and turning around struggling venues by offering employees a fun workplace. When employees have fun doing their jobs, they look forward to coming to work and deliver better service to your guests. Two companies known for their dedication to developing a great, fun work culture are Southwest and Amazon. Both companies also understand that it isn’t fun for an employee to come to work if management isn’t teaching them how to do their jobs. That’s where communication comes in.
Failure to Communicate
Managing people is hard; communicating with them effectively is harder. Howard isn’t a fan of managing by telling. Instead, he prefers what he calls “management by walking around,” or management by showing. Using the back bar as an example, he says that unless you show employees how to make it presentable and have the brands represented, managers will likely find that it’s not to standard during every shift. The standards of the owner and management must be communicated, and this is where many managers fail. When Howard took his first management position, he was just 23 years of age. He realized that he would be overseeing a staff – some union – that had been working in the industry for 20 to 30 years. He also understood that many of them believed they knew how to do their jobs better than he. In order to gain their respect and trust, Howard decided to work every position inside the venue, from dishwasher to line cook to expediter and everything in between. As far as he was concerned, he couldn’t understand what they employees were going through, what they needed, where they struggled and where they excelled if he didn’t know their jobs. He also spoke with everyone, really listening and not talking down to them. Howard has since implemented the Day in the Life Program for all managers under his watch. New management spends time doing every job within the venue in which they’ll be working and all managers go through the program again every 6 to 8 months. You simply cannot manage effectively if you’re sitting behind a desk all day worrying about numbers.
Failure to Trust Employees
An effective leader trusts and guides their employees. They also work with them to drive more dollars to the bottom line. Unfortunately, a disproportionate number of managers head into work every shift looking for what employees are doing wrong. Howard wants management to flip that: look for who is doing the right thing and reward them for going above and beyond. Spend time on the front lines and find the leaders. Who’s the leader among the bartenders? Who’s the leader within the group of servers? Who really leads the kitchen? Offer incentives for those employees who are your rock stars. Reward the server who has the highest sales. Give a reward to the bartender who sells the most of a particular beverage. Trust your employees, recognize their leadership skills and who’s performing and they’ll respect you.
Failure to Offer Employees Tools and Supplies Needed
This mistake can be corrected in a fairly easy manner: ask your employees what they need. Yes, there will be staff members who want tools that are too expensive or unrealistic for your venue but keep an open mind. Most of what employees need to succeed is simple. Do the bartenders have enough fruit at the beginning of their shift? What about bottle openers? Proper pour tops? A very common industry complaint from bartenders is that they have the wrong pour tops. Nonfunctional or low quality versions of these seemingly little tools can have a negative impact on your liquor costs. Howard recommends going behind the bar and using the pour tops to see if they’re functional. You won’t understand what the staff needs if you don’t do their job.
Failure to Leave Personal Life at the Door
Many managers tell new hires and employees to leave their personal baggage at home, yet they take out their personal frustrations on employees. Doing so can turn your employees against you and once that happens, things begin to go downhill. This mistake creates mistrust, pure and simple. Employees who don’t trust their employers may steal from the business, shirk their responsibilities or otherwise jeopardize the liquor license or otherwise negatively impact your business and reputation.
Failure to Deliver on Promises
Nightclub & Bar speakers have touched on this before and will likely discuss it again at the 2016 Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show. If you don’t follow through with promises, employees will not trust you. In our industry, however, there will be times that promises cannot be kept. It’s the nature of the business. Maybe the plan is to provide new uniforms at the beginning of summer or winter and due to various circumstances, the uniforms are scrapped or can’t be delivered by the promised time. Don’t just shrug this off – communicate with your employees. Tell them why a promise can’t be fulfilled and maintain the trust between employees and management.
Failure to Give Employees Feedback
In Howard’s experience, 9 out of 10 employees would say, “I’ve never sat down with my manager,” if asked about the last time their manager gave them a review. Hospitality industry venues are very busy but it’s critical that you provide feedback to your employees – positive and constructive feedback. Employees will work harder for the business if management sits down with them and issues reviews, either formal per company guidelines or informal. These reviews will be even stronger and mean more if managers sit down and get to know their employees. Of course, there’s a fine line between professional and personal relationships so management shouldn’t delve too deep into the lives of their employees. But a true open door policy and reviews will go a long way to building trust, respect and the bottom line.
Failure to Support Employees Who Seek Promotions
Management needs to support upward mobility. While many would hate to admit it, some managers don’t want to help employees move up for selfish reasons. Some feel, for example, that promoting a bartender who performs well will hurt their numbers and therefore choose to not move them up. The attitude towards those ambitious enough to want to rise within the company should be, “How can we get them there?” Consider this: those who don’t support employees who are working hard to move up may one day find themselves working for them…
Failure to Lead by Example
The rules must apply to everyone. Employees are forbidden from chewing gum on the floor? Then management shouldn’t chew gum on the floor either. Is there a dress code? Managers should never be out of code. If management doesn’t lead by example, the employees won’t trust them. It doesn’t serve any purpose to set standards and then allow managers to flush them down the drain because they’re violating those standards.
“Anyone can be a manager,” Howard says. “But to be a leader is something different. And in order to be successful in this industry, the hospitality industry, it’s very important that you stand out and you be a leader.”
Find out how to be a leader at the 2016 Nightclub & Bar Show, March 7-9 at the Las Vegas Convention Center!