Let’s face it – managing a restaurant is stressful. From dealing with employee conflicts to managing cash flow, the responsibilities can sometimes get to be too much. On top of that, the holiday season only heightens the craziness. Keeping your stress level in check is extremely important for both your employees and customers. So much so, that when Hcareers.com listed the top characteristics of successful restaurant managers in the U.S., stress management topped the list.
If a manager shows they’re stressed, it creates a trickle down effect for the entire restaurant. If you’re feeling the heat, it’s usually your employees who will get the short end of the stick. According to Carnegie Mellon’s report on “Respect and Communication in the Food Service Industry”, “the same goes for stressed full-timers who take it out on part-timers and so on.” Overall, stress can negatively affect interpersonal communication and job performance, which is why it’s important to have a strategy in place to deal with day-to-day job-related issues. So just how can you manage a stressful and busy kitchen year-round, and especially around the holidays?
Above all, organize your kitchen! NPR reports that the system that makes kitchens go is the mise-en-place, or, literally, “put in place.” “It’s a French phrase that means to gather and arrange the ingredients and tools needed for cooking. But for many culinary professionals, the phrase connotes something deeper. It helps them coordinate vast amounts of labor and material, and transforms the lives of its practitioners through focus and self-discipline… It’s a way of concentrating your mind to only focus on the aspects that you need to be working on at that moment, to kind of rid yourself of distractions.” Another principle of mise-en-place is slowing down to speed up. By taking an extra minute or two to plan and get things right, you can save yourself from a bigger mess later. Managers can take a note from this in anything from employee holiday scheduling to coordinating front of house reservations.
Chef Dwayne Lipuma of the Culinary Institute of American explains, “I think if we just became a little bit more organized, a little bit more mise-en-place, [understand] what we really need and only do what we really need, I think we’ll have more time” — time for what’s important.” An organized kitchen can not only improve your work, but also your life.
Other ways to manage stress include:
- Taking breaks: Get out of the restaurant, step away from your work and take a breather.
- Accept what you cannot change: If an employee makes a mistake, face the problem head-on. You can’t change what happened, but you can change how the customer feels by dealing with them in a positive and relaxed manner.
- Take things one at a time: Don’t overwhelm yourself by tackling too many things at once. Make a list and check things off.
- Focus on the positive: Even if there’s a fire in the kitchen and an angry customer on the phone, find the positive things to focus on. Food service is a lucky industry in that you can see satisfied customers before your very eyes every day. According to Managing Foodservice Operations, many managers say that seeing the results of their work outweigh the stress of the day.
- And, ask for help if you need it: If stress is taking a serious toll on you, seek professional help. The ability to reach out for support is a sign of managerial strength in the long run.
Through stress management strategies like mise-en-place, you can overcome any crazy, hectic feelings this holiday season and beyond. While your job can be stressful, it’s incredibly rewarding. You have the power to shape a customer’s experience and have a direct effect on the success of the business. So, keep calm while the heat is on and, remember, you’ve got this!