The Importance of Keeping Your Cool

Before beginning my managerial career, every restaurant I worked in had one or two managers that could lose their cool at the drop of a hat. Once I began managing, I became that person. This business has that knack for turning calm people anxious and anxious people irate. Of course, no one wants to lose their cool when the waste product is hitting the fan. Refraining from that angry instinct is among the biggest challenges for many managers and it certainly was for me.

The restaurant business is completely about adrenaline and momentum. These are two of the biggest draws, and two reasons why people keep coming back after leaving it. Few other industries offer the same capacity to bring many different people together working at full-tilt to battle through a mad rush and get the job done. But this is the downfall for many effective managers. Losing your cool during a busy dinner rush or when an employee makes a mistake can be very costly in the long run.

Prevent Staff From Losing Their Cool

The manager or operator has to remember his role as tone-setter in the building. Every employee follows his lead, and a manager who loses his cool implies that it’s okay for employees to lose their cool. On the other hand, employees learn to handle their emotions when a manager can do the same in the heat of battle.

Be Able to Talk to Guests

Perhaps you have learned that it’s nearly impossible to seamlessly go from yelling in the kitchen to glad-handing guests at their table. There’s always a giveaway—like the vein bulging in your forehead or the sweat drenching your collar. You might be able to smile and ask how dinner is, but you’ll never fully hide your anger.

A real double-threat manager can move easily from the floor to the kitchen and back. That means not getting too angry in either place. It’s essential to remember that no mistake is so big that it will destroy your business, no matter how badly your chef charred that Ribeye.

Don’t Be Overheard

Peruse a few online guest reviews of restaurants to see if they’ve heard blow-ups in the kitchen. It happens—trust me. It’s easy to forget that your kitchen is usually tucked against a wall that borders your dining room. It has to be in nearly every restaurant to maximize space. Open kitchens can rear the spotlight directly on the Chef and Sous when things go awry in the kitchen. Having a mature staff is essential for keeping your cool.

Don’t Lose Respect of Employees

Controlled anger is an excellent tool. It demonstrates that there are consequences for mistakes and reminds everyone that this is a business. Anger can be used strategically in a variety of ways, including:

· Getting Out in Front of Problems: By addressing a problem with a little anger before it grows, you can quickly eliminate major issues. This is a primary tool of restaurant management.
· Setting a Trainee Straight: A little bit of anger when everything has been positive can quickly grab a trainee’s attention. It’s worth it to find a way to take an angry tone at least once during the training of an employee you’re uncertain about.
· Early in a Shift to Get Everyone’s Attention: It’s great to see everyone coming to work with smiles on their faces. But a minor, controlled emotional burst in the kitchen is a great way to quickly get everyone serious and locked in on their jobs.

On the other hand, too much anger can undermine the respect you’ve worked hard to earn from your staff. Excessive anger can also disrupt the concentration of your employees and make good workers unable to focus during crunch time.

So, your staff served a steak with butter when your guest has a dairy allergy you all knew about in advance. And, so your staff topped their complimentary non-dairy dessert you chose to present as a peace offering with whipped cream, making it appear that you are systematically trying to poison the guest. Remember; it’s only one mistake. See the forest from the trees and move on.