Here’s a tip: ditch your managing people books and don’t try to imitate someone else’s management style. While the previous owner was a great manager and trained a hard working staff, we have very different personalities and therefore different management styles. The trick for me was finding that style and realizing that by just being myself, I could effectively manage a staff. Here are some techniques that worked for me, but again, I stress that it is important to do what works for you:
1. Never ask a member of staff to do something you won’t do. James and I are often found scrubbing pots and pans, serving breakfast, mopping floors, and even pitching in with housekeeping. Not only does it set a good example, but it makes us appreciate our staff and all they do for us.
2. Don’t yell. Just get a really disappointed look on your face when a member of staff does something wrong. We didn’t even realize we were doing this until one of our interns pointed out that James’ “look of disappointment” is far worse than yelling.
3. Have fun at work. Recently one of our interns said she thinks she laughed at work every day since she arrived last June. That means a lot to us – sure there are bound to be moments of stress and frustration. After all, this is work. But if we have a good time, our positive attitude reflects on the level of service we provide to our guests.
4. I remember someone telling me never to make friends with staff. I can’t imagine that person had a very good report with his subordinates (by the way, that’s a really demeaning word). While we maintain some boundaries and authority, we have the whole staff to our house for Thanksgiving and even indulge in the occasional drink after work. When we all feel like family, it makes it much more natural for, say, our chef to help the housekeepers in a pinch and vice versa.
5. Let them make fun of you. Everyone should be able to laugh at their boss – it’s fun. Just recently I spotted a picture of myself on Facebook with the captain “Geeeek” underneath posted by one of our interns. I know it’s all in good fun. And let’s face it, sometimes I really am a geek.
6. Give them authority. We put a huge amount of trust in our staff and rarely look over their shoulders. Sure mistakes are made from time to time, but they’re worth it – not only are they lessons learned, but the trade off of having a sense of ownership and pride outweighs the occasional goof.