3 Essential Qualities Needed In A F&B Operations Leader

Times have changed and the F&B industry has also gradually evolved. The F&B industry has one of the highest turnover in the market. Staff can easily quit when they are unhappy and find another job the next day. Thus, management of a F&B team has to evolve too. Over the past 7 years in the industry, I have noticed 3 crucial qualities in order for an F&B operational leader to succeed in his or her role.

1) Work is bond – do whatever you promised to do 说到做到
To me, this is a one of the most important qualities. Because F&B operations run 7 days a week and sometimes 365 days a year. Thus, it’s inevitable that we occasionally promise the team to do something and we forgot. Whenever my team come to me for help and if I said that I would help, I would note down in a book and make sure that I followed through. I will also give them the permission to keep chasing me to get it done. When the problems are solved, they can do their jobs better.
Our role as the leader is to help them do their job (leading the outlets) better. If you can consistently fulfil your promises, you will earn respect points and you gradually realised that your team has faith in you and listens to you. It’s just like a “respect and trust” bank account. The more you deposit into this account, on days when you need help, they will help you more readily.
2) Have faith in your team and empower them, even though they might not be up to your expectation yet.
Every master started as an amateur. We need to give time to our ground leaders to learn from mistakes and failures, to grow from their management experience. I always have this rule of thumb, if he or she can do 80 percent as well as what you can do, delegate and empower.
When you empower them, make sure you have faith in them and let them be the star. Here’s the crucial part, EMPOWERING THEM doesn’t mean LEAVING THEM ALONE. This is a very big mistake that leaders make. They think that empowering them means that they have LESS RESPONSIBILITIES. It doesn’t mean that. It just means that our responsibility has changed from “managing the outlet” to “managing the leader to manage the outlet”. It’s different and in some cases, it’s hard because sometimes people are harder to manage than operations.
Most importantly, when you give your leaders time to learn and grow, you help them gain confidence and become better at what they do, they will start to trust you and believe in you, because you genuinely care for them. You care about helping them get better.
3) Listen and show empathy. Show them you are fighting alongside them rather than watching them fight.
Have time for them and listen to them sincerely. I understand as a F&B leader, we might be very busy with daily operations and sometimes we don’t even have time to eat. But it important that we take time out to really sit down with our people, listen to them and understand their point of view. Do not shut them off immediately and ask them solve the problems themselves. Some of the managers I see, have the habit of asking their ground leaders to solve all the problems by themselves, explaining that it’s a way of helping them grow. However that’s not the case, we need to use our experience to decide if this problem is something that he or she can solve with his or her current abilities and knowledge. But rather than just solving for them, we can also guide them to solve it.
In short, we have to be available to them. No matter how busy we are, we must be able to handle our frustrations and emotions, and not make ourselves seem “busy and unavailable”.
Yong Hong
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