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Recently moved from the line into management, seeking advice.

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 

I work in a high-volume brewpub in the heart of downtown. I worked the line for about 2 years and enjoyed it for the most part. But there were a lot of things some of my coworkers did that I wasn't too fond of. Nothing too extreme, just being messy and not caring about their job sorta thing. It got frustrating but I always tried to lead by example. Well about 2 months ago I put in my two weeks at my current spot so I could go full time at another gig I had been working, as I had an opportunity to eventually move into a management position there. I was counter-offered with a management position at my current job with higher pay. I decided to take the job, which in retrospect turned out to be a great decision because my part-time spot started going downhill not long after I left due to owner issues. 


Anyways, my management role at my current spot isn't very well defined. I started out as a floor manager but after talking with my GM we decided that I need to focus on BoH, which is great because I love BoH. But I'm in an odd position now. We have no KM, Chef or Sous, so our leadership on the line is non-existent. We have a few veteran cooks but they take no initiative in leading the pack. I am being scheduled like the other floor managers but supposed to "focus on the kitchen" while I'm at work. I feel that in order to get the cooks to respond well to me and to actually change some things in the kitchen I need to at least be on the line with them, no? In my opinion there isn't a better way to change things in a place like this than to get back their and do it yourself, showing everyone how easy it can be with a little effort. I suppose this is more of a rant than anything, but I'm just wondering what ChefTalk thinks about a kitchen without any true BoH management ever working the line. It was always odd to me when I was on the line that we didn't have any management in the back and now that I have made my way into management I want to change that.


On a related note, any advice on getting some of my coworkers to start seeing me more as their manager and not as just 'one of the guys'. I want people to see that I am serious about making some positive changes to the kitchen. Morale has been at an all time low lately and I want to fix it before its too late. But guys will still play on their phone, or eat on the line, or put forth MINIMAL effort in keeping their station clean. Instead they complain about the smallest issues or take a smoke break. No one is held accountable and none of the other managers say anything to them. I don't want to go in and just be an asshole about everything and ruin the relationships and respect I earned working the line with them all, but its starting to feel like I'm gonna have to. I'm a fairly young guy (24) so I'm still figuring out my managing style, but I just really wanna get the ball rolling.




post #2 of 3
Run for the hills!

Who does the food ordering? Who schedules the cooks? Who's accountable for food and labor cost? If its not you, you're not the KM. And yes, if you are going to be in charge of them you need to be back there, and you need to have the authority yo reprimand and fire people.
Let me explain; if you're going to address a problem, make sure you can fix the problem. This means a)letting people know, clearly, what your standards are (e.g. no eating on the line) b.) Enforcing it c)if violations conyinue you need to be able to discipline people d)if discipline doesn't take you terminate.
BUT.... if you can't fire people your threats aren't serious. So what happens if you have a problem with someone? Can they go behind your back to the boss? To the othrr floor managers, who are on the same level as you? If you have s problem with somebody, who are they going to back up, you or thecook?
Furthermore, if you lost a cook, are you prepared to work the line everyday until you replaced them? Can you do all their jobs? Can you do them better than they can?
The reason I say leave, is, with a poorly defined role, no kitchen managment experience, and no real control, you will just end up tearing your hair out in frustration. If you want to stay, you need to be in that kitchen. But why isn't there a chef? This is a red flag, that no one has been in charge of that kitchen for a long time; an outside chef coming in would see that. My advice, leave, get a job as a lead line for a chef who can teach you about managing a kitchen. Seriously; trying to "figure out" how to be a kitchen manager will be a nightmare.
As to your second question, don't drink with them, at least not everyday. Work extremely hard. A manager should, theoretically, know more about cooking than his staff. Be willing to move mountains for them, if you need to, but don't do it every time they ask uou for something. Finally, staff will never respect a manager they don't see as having control; they get to be like wild dogs that think the alpha dog's gone weak.
post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 

GM does the food ordering, one of the other 'managers' does the schedule. There isn't a chef because the guy that helped open the place got an offer for a better gig about 4 years ago and nobody filled his spot. The kitchen has just been doing its own thing ever since. They wonder why food cost has gone up and why things aren't running as smoothly back there, but it seems quite obvious to me! No leadership, no direction, no accountability. I can work every station on the line and quite well, I just feel like a dick if I'm constantly getting on to them about little stuff they know they shouldn't be doing. However, I realize that is more on me and I need to just buck up. I'm gonna try to stick it out for a little bit longer and get things moving in the right direction, but if things are looking the same in a few months I think you're right, I'll have to jet.

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