Becoming a Manager

8 Oct

I was trying to mentor a friend to enter management.  He was a regular employee but wanted to be promoted.  I handed him a form that Wendy’s managers had to fill out to prioritize their work weeks.  I told him to think of one or two operational problems we had at this restaurant and use that time sheet to prioritize how to fix them.

He balked.  “But managers do that.  I’m not a manager.”

I predicted then he never would be one.  Thirteen years later, my prediction holds.

I’ve also heard similar grumbling from managers and crew alike when the district manager is present and nitpicks things they do wrong or corners they cut.

For example, Wendy’s has written procedures for taking out the trash.  That’s right; there is a wrong way to take out trash at Wendy’s.  If a crew member combines trash cans or takes out more than one can at a time, he will be coached by a District Manager to take only one can at a time.

The crew members, and even some managers, have a similar reaction as my friend above when faced with the criticism.  They’ll groan, “He only expects things done according to the strictest procedures because he’s a DM.”

But both my friend and these crew members/managers are wrong.

He doesn’t expect things done according to the proper procedure because he’s a District Manager.  Rather: He’s a District Manager because he expects things done according to the proper procedure.

This cause and effect is reversed in most people’s thinking, and that reversal is what holds people back from advancing in (or into) management.  People think title dictates behavior.  However, Randal Graves is right; people dictate their own behavior:

At Wendy’s, Assistant Managers deal with interviewing, hiring, and training crew members.  Co-managers deal with coaching and developing crew, Crew Leaders, Shift Supervisors, and Assistant Managers.  Co-managers also monitor the paperwork associated with training and develop plans with the General Manager across the entire spectrum of business operations to improve areas that are lacking.

So, if an Assistant Manager wanted to advance to Co-manager, which option is best?

  1. Do his current job well and wait until he’s asked to advance?
  2. Do his current job well, and start documenting training and proactively develop plans to improve all business operations before the GM even sees the negative result?

If a person is an exceptional Assistant Manager, (1) might get him promoted eventually.  But, a so-so Assistant could advance to Co much sooner if he goes for option (2).

What’s the solution to the problem?  You must understand that you won’t get to the next level until you’re already there.  Always be proactive, working on the job description above you without neglecting your current duties.  Don’t think, “I’ll be a General Manager when they pay me to be a General Manager.”  You may eventually get your own store, but there’s a better way to go about it.  Be a General Manager first, and then you’ll get your own store much sooner.


Minimum Effort for Minimum Wage

1 Oct

It’s a situation I think every fast food manager is familiar with.

The classic setup:

You’re inspecting the work of a crew member, usually a cleaning task but sometimes work that is central to the job (such as the wrap of a sandwich).  It’s not good enough.  The table base is still dirty, the wall still has spots, or the sandwich looks like a really cute baby slapped it several times while giggling.

You know how babies do that when they discover something cool, especially if it’s a squishy something cool.  But I digress.

You inform the employee that the task is not done properly and tell them they have to redo it.  They say the task is “good enough,” and that since you only pay them minimum wage, you only get their minimum effort.

That sickens me on two levels, and I let my employees know it sickens me on two levels, One Minute Reprimand style.

On the first level comes the ridiculously high current minimum wage.  In Ohio, state minimum wage is higher than federal minimum wage, so we must pay our folks $7.70 per hour.  And, on January 1, 2013, it will rise to $7.85 per hour.

I didn’t make anywhere near that for my entire stint in hourly management!

As unpopular opinion as this is, I think that fast food crew are overpaid because of the minimum wage.  The job responsibilities of a crew member are not commensurate with the federal minimum wage, let alone the higher Ohio one.

Of course, I always get, “Was gas as high as it is now?  Did the food here cost almost $7 for some sandwiches?  Were any other prices this high?”  Of course, the answer to all of that is NO.  And the crew member folds her arms in superiority.  She won against her know-it-all manager.

Then I explain the second way that response sickens me: the deontolgical response.  This is almost a fancy, philosophical way of saying “guilt trip.”  The hypothetical crew person can’t win against this.  It is best illustrated with an example:

If you go to McDonald’s and order something off the Dollar Menu, receive it, and find out that the sandwich wasn’t made the way you ordered it or the meat was raw, you’d take it back, right?

Or if you went to Wal-Mart and bought something on clearance, then found out it was defective or broken, you’d return that, right?

Of course.

Because if you pay for something, even if you pay bottom dollar, you expect that it will fit the needs for which you bought it.  And if it doesn’t, then you complain and expect that the store will fix it.

Well, what if the McDonald’s employee told you that since you bought a Dollar Menu item, you only get the minimum possible effort McDonald’s can muster?  Sometimes that equates to “baked under a heat lamp all day” or “served raw.”

What if the Wal-Mart employee said that since this was a clearance item, that you had no right to complain since you didn’t pay full price?  Only general sale items or full price items can be returned.

I’m sure you’d be fired up and pissed.  You’d be asking for high-up managers or writing letters to the respective parent corporations.

Well, how do you think your manager feels at the utterance of “Minimum effort for minimum wage”?

The point: it doesn’t matter what the restaurant is paying a worker.  They have an expectation of how the worker is going to perform, and every right to coach the worker to complete tasks properly.  Or terminate the worker if the worker won’t comply.

“Deontological ethics” are practices you have a duty to perform.  I believe that if a worker agrees to a wage, minimum or otherwise, then they have a duty to put for the best effort every time they are clocked in and collecting money.  If the money isn’t right, don’t take the job.

“Minimum effort for minimum wage” is the attitude of a loser.  Yes, I couched in strong terms because I feel that strongly about it.  If workers can’t be coached properly and they cling to this mantra and the piss-poor attitude that always accompanies it, they need to be replaced immediately.

Two Lessons from my Personal Hell II: Deliver Superior Performance

8 Apr

Those who read the last post know that I have been going through a personal hell of having worked the past month straight without a day off.

Such is the problem of management.

The two lessons I have gleaned from it, however, are invaluable.  The first lesson is to remain spiritually, emotionally, and physically in shape for what might be a grueling experience.

The second lesson we will discuss today is that you still must deliver quality service, no matter what.

When you take over a new leadership role, especially if you’re not the top dog, you should become intimately familiar with the philosophy of your company.

Burger King promises that the customer will have it his way.

Wendy’s prides itself on quality.

McDonald’s is a production line — delivering prepackaged food at unmatched speed.

Fast food is almost always short staffed, as I am right now.

But guess what?

That’s no excuse for not delivering what your company says it will deliver.  Do not cut corners just because you’re short staffed.

I think a great way to look at this is to set a goal for yourself.  Don’t let anyone that you don’t directly tell find out you are short staffed.  Don’t even let them suspect you’re short staffed.

This means a lot of extra work for you.  This means a lot of delegation to your staff; they will have to learn to juggle multiple jobs effectively.  You will have to be their cheerleader.  And you will have to reward them and celebrate victories or other milestones.

But let your short staffing be as brief as possible.  Plan to solve the situation as quickly as possible, because you will burn out and your team will burn out quickly.

Once the short staff issue is solved, you can celebrate in your own way.  Today, for example, I took my first day off in over a month.  It felt great, and I have many more to look forward to in the near future.  Things are rapidly beginning to look up, and those are the things you and your team should celebrate.

Nobody wants to hear that you can’t do something because of short staffing.

But everyone is wowed when they find out you were short staffed but never batted an eyelash; all of the work still got done and all of the customers left the building happy.

That’s leadership.

Two Lessons from My Personal Hell I: Getting in Shape During the Countdown Period

2 Apr

I’m going through hell right now.

Not the literal hell described in the Bible, just a harrowing gauntlet of which I am a partial architect.

When I took over my new role as director of environmental services for a long-term care facility, I knew that I would have to let some people go.  I planned on one for the short term, but ended up letting four go in less than a month.

So now I’m short staffed, which has led me to working for over three weeks without a day off, beginning week #4 today.

I have learned two lessons from this.  The first is to get in shape.  The second is to deliver superior results and service no matter what.  Let’s turn to the first.

In You’re in Charge — Now What? by James Citrin and Thomas Neff, the authors outline an 8-point plan for having a successful first 100 days in a new leadership role.  The first step is to have a successful countdown period — the time between accepting and starting your new assignment.

One of the things Citrin and Neff discuss is to make sure you are physically ready for the rigors of your new role.  It might seem trite, but if you have to work 20+ days straight, then you will appreciate having taken some time to get in shape.

I have three simple tips for enduring the worst job-related hells.  And mind you, this isn’t the first job-related hell I’ve experienced.  This is just the one I’ve managed to whether the best, and it comes from failing to handle similar situations in the past.

First, have a workout routine.  I still don’t follow this, and it is to my serious detriment.  If I were in better in physical shape, I’d be able to sustain longer hours.  Not for the job, mind you.  My lawn wouldn’t look like an African savannah right now, my house wouldn’t be a toxic disaster area of old McDonald’s wrappers and ancient cans of pop, and when I look up to consider my next sentence I wouldn’t see a nasty black cobweb.

Second, have a hobby or outlet.  My hobbies are reading good books, blogging, and having fun with my kids.

During this time, I have spent time playing with my kids.

I’ve read Dave’s Way by Dave Thomas, and I’m meandering through The Last Patriot by Brad Thor (very overrated writer, but he gets the job done and keeps the pages turning with an engrossing story).

I’ve seriously lapsed on writing, finding myself less-than-inspired.

I’ve maintained two of my three hobbies — dropping out of life just fuels depression.  Staying active in non-work pursuits is very important.

Third, place your hope in a higher authority.  I encourage everyone to find fulfillment in the God of the Universe, father of Jesus Christ and the one described in the Bible.  When people feel connected to something bigger and better than themselves, they experience far more motivation and job satisfaction.  The spiritual dimension is no different — so search for God and become connected.

With these three in play, you will feed your body, mind, and spirit as you manage your current assignment.

Fast Food & Pie-in-the-Sky Marketing

29 Oct

I’ve always hated the marketing department.

“Which marketing department, Cory?  You’ve worked at Wendy’s, Taco Bell, and Burger King.”

All of them.

The marketing department takes hours to construct the perfect sandwich, using ingredients that aren’t even edible.  They put a fine mist on the tomatoes, they paint the lettuce green.  BK uses shredded iceberg lettuce, but the ads look as green as romaine lettuce, and they use full leaves of lettuce.  They play up the grill marks on the sandwich to emphasize “flame-broiling.”  They put each ingredient on that sandwich as though they were playing a Jenga game with $1 million dollars at stake.

They play with lighting and exposure times, then take that single, perfect picture.

Then, they touch up any imperfections on the perfect picture using effects in PhotoShop.  The result looks mouth-watering:

Conversely, when the customer orders a Whopper, the goal is to make it in 7 seconds, sometimes with substandard ingredients.  Or, at least shredded lettuce as opposed to leaf, mayo that isn’t as white, onions that have fermented in their own juice for at least an hour, and a burger patty that hasn’t touched a real grill in its life.  The result looks like this:

I have no doubt in my mind that the whopper in that picture tastes excellent.  That’s not what I’m here to talk about.  What I am here to talk about is the seriously unrealistic standard that the marketing department of a fast food restaurant creates with those PhotoShopped but delicious looking pictures they use in the advertisement.

Customers, fact of life: it will never look like the picture.  Unless you want to wait for two hours while a team of workers stack each ingredient perfectly and we paint the food the vibrant colors.  Then treat it with a special gloss so that it shines in the light.

But then your food, like the delectable picture, wouldn’t be edible.  And you wouldn’t be able to grab it and go at the drive-thru.

It would be nice if the marketing department adopted the Domino’s Pizza approach by using real food in the pictures taken by customers and uploaded to a website.  It looks far more realistic, and just as tempting (in many cases).  And best of all, the customer knows exactly what to expect and isn’t lead astray by painted lettuce or meticulously arranged nacho chips.

It also creates some accountability with the employees: while speed is important, presentation is also a must!  This might be online.  Do you want to be “that guy” that made the “Slopper” that appears on our company’s website?  Nobody wants to be “that guy.”

Since I don’t see  BK or Wendy’s adopting that kind of a policy anytime soon, I recommend that employees just joke with the customers about how disappointed they are in the presentation of the real food versus the fantasy marketing.  Then, after sharing a laugh, tout the quality of the food for the price, leaving them with that food for thought!

More food comparisons.

Quick Poll: Which Logo?

21 Oct

I just redesigned the logo that accompanies posts related to the One Minute McManager to more closely reflect the original One Minute Manager logo.

Old logo:

New logo:

How to Answer the Drive-Thru

14 Oct

One of the top tips I gave for increasing speed of service is to streamline words, phrases, and questions at the drive-thru.  This caused quite a bit of controversy in the comment section, so I decided to clarify a bit.

Let’s take a peek at an employee at my last restaurant, who is a great example of what not to do.  I will present a typical order from her, followed by a critique:

Customer: I’d like a Whopper, —

Order Taker: Would you like cheese on that?

Customer: Sure.  And I’d —

Order Taker: Is that a meal?

Customer: . . .  Uh, yeah.

Order Taker: What would you like to drink with that?

Customer: . . . Um . . . I’d like . . . a . . . Coke, and —

Order Taker: Small, Medium, or Large?

Customer: The drink?

Order Taker: No, the meal.

Customer: Oh. . . Uh, I guess . . . uh, Medium.  Uh. . .

Order Taker: Is that it?

Customer: No, I’d like . . . uh. . . a. . . Chicken Sandwich —

Order Taker: Original or Tendercrisp?

Customer: Which one is on the long bun?

Order Taker: The Original.

Customer: Original —

Order Taker: Would you like cheese on that?

Customer: Uh, sure, I guess. . .

Order Taker: Would that be the meal?

Customer: Well, uh, . . . sure —

Order Taker: What kind of drink?

Customer: Uh, . . . uh . . . Maybe . . . Diet Coke?

Order Taker: Small, Medium, or Large?

Customer: (quietly) Small, Medium or Large?

Friend: . . . (almost inaudible) Not sure . . . Large!

Customer: (loud again) Large.  And —

Order Taker: Is that it?

Customer: No, I got more comin’ . . .

I’m not impressed, and I’m annoyed.  I would have had this order taken already, in its entirety.

How could this possibly go quicker?  There are two critiques I have, in addition to politeness.  “Is that it?” is not a proper way to attempt to close an order.  It’s a bit rude and off-putting.  Always say, “Will that be all for you, today?”  Or something like it.  Note also the number of “–“‘s that end the customer’s side of the conversation.  This is where our order taker has cut the customer off to ask a question.  Also very rude.

The critiques that will assist speed of service, and thus the body of this post, are that she is overselling and over-clarifying. Continue reading

New Theme

1 Feb

I have selected a new theme for the site. I’m hoping to put more offerings on this site in 2011, so stick around and see what’s cooking.

For those of you that are interested in becoming better leaders, the Store link has many great offerings. If you like what I’m doing on this site and you want to see this site continue, then purchase some items I have listed at the store. I get a commission from it, so it lets me know that you appreciate my recommendations.

Leadership Lessons from an 80s Cartoon

8 Dec

If anyone used to watch He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and She-Ra: Princess of Power growing up, perhaps you wondered why Skeletor was always trying to conquer Eternia and Castle Grayskull with it while his mentor, Hordak, had already conquered and enslaved the population of Etheria. There’s at least one possible, obvious explanation. But that isn’t it.

The obvious explanation is that Hordak was Skeletor’s mentor and trainer. Hordak was grooming Skeletor to eventually command a world under the Horde’s control.

Anyone familiar with the back story knows that Skeletor was stranded on Eternia and Hordak left (with Princess Adora) to conquer another world, probably before Skeletor’s training was complete. It therefore stands to reason that Skeletor doesn’t know all of Hordak’s secrets, and that is why Hordak has succeeded where Skeletor hasn’t.

But I don’t think that’s the reason for Hordak’s success. I believe the real secret is in his minions. Pay attention: this is a lesson that every manager needs to learn.

When we look at Skeletor’s main set of evil warriors, what do we see? Beast Man, who is total imbecile only for comic relief. Trap Jaw, the wizard of weapons, lacks any originality or capacity to think for himself. Mer-Man, is helpless outside of water.

Of all of Skeletor’s minions, only Evil-Lyn is competent and able to hatch an original villainous plot.

Look over at Hordak’s side. Only Mantenna and Grizzlor are unable to hatch an original villainous plot. Everyone else can!

Catra is a force to be reckoned with; she took over Adora’s role as force captain when the latter defected to the Great Rebellion. Scorpia may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but she is still a capable enemy. Leech and Mantenna can carry a plot out when they team up. Modulak is the consummate mad scientist; too bad Skeletor lost him to Hordak. And Hordak’s second-in-command, Shadow Weaver, is evil to the core and a terrible sorceress with awesome power–she probably carried the most episodes outside of Hordak himself.

The results speak for themselves. Hordak has enslaved every kingdom on Etheria except for Bright Moon (which he lost in the movie that introduced She-Ra). Skeletor commands only Snake Mountain, and that because Hordak had originally used it as a base of operations during a failed invasion of Eternia.

The lesson? Watch who you’re hiring! If you hire as Hordak did, you will conquer the planet. (Hopefully you won’t enslave all of the kingdoms, though.) If you hire as Skeletor did, you’ll be stuck with miserable, lonely Snake Mountain, always trying conquer Grayskull but never quite getting there. Wisely hire strong recruits who are good fits with your existing team, and you’ll be the Master of the Universe! Permanently Deleted

28 Jun

I have permanently deleted the domain name. The cost of renewal was too much, and I have no interested parties willing to contribute to this blog. One person did contact me, and though I accepted her as a contributor, she (like all of the others that have contacted me expressing an interest) failed to return my e-mail. I never heard from her again.

Either my e-mails are going into people’s spam filter, or I’m expecting too much of my contributors.

As a contributor, you will be expected to come up with your own blog ideas, and I also expect you to help promote this blog in chats and discussion forums. I would like this site to keep going, but not under my totalitarian direction. I want to assemble a team with ideas to propel this forward to the next level on their own, with me making only occasional contributions.

I will make the occasional update to this site, but I have numerous other writing projects in the works that have a higher priority. I am not going to delete this blog, as I think I still have some more things to say.