10 ways to deal with a hot-headed restaurant manager
We’ve all been there a time or two. Working with a boss that’s frustrated, short-tempered and has a hard time managing his/her emotions is challenging. When people are tired, anxious or stressed, an angry episode can be triggered very quickly.
Restaurants are busy, sometimes hectic places to work. It’s a demanding job with long hours, balancing customer satisfaction with high turnover and exacting standards. Things can and do go wrong. So, when your manager is a hot-head and yelling at everyone, what helps you to cope?
First, Understand What’s Happening
In a nutshell – this is a matter of fight or flight. Typically, restaurant managers (like most entrepreneurs) are by nature, fighters… and that’s often the secret to their success. Unfortunately, when under stress, their first reaction can be to “get ready to battle.” When he/she cannot control that instant response to an already tense situation, they explode.
How do you Cope When it’s happening to you?
- Do not tell the manager to calm down: It doesn’t help to try to calm someone down when they’re in the middle of an outburst. That simply prolongs the episode and makes them even angrier. Put your personal feelings aside and accept that the tirade will end and life will go on.
- Don’t yell back or argue in response: Stay cool and realize that yelling back at your boss is not going to help the situation. Keep your body language neutral: no eye-rolling, muttering or grimacing. This is not the time to try to “win” an argument.
- Realize it’s probably not personal: Hotheads will yell at the individual closest to them at the time. It may have nothing to do with you personally. Unless you know you did something to cause the problem, assume it’s not about you.
- Go to your “Happy Place” and disengage: How can you do that? Breathe deeply and try to mentally remove yourself from the immediate situation. Think about something outside of work that makes you feel peaceful or relaxed. There’s no point in engaging in the madness, just let go.
- Don’t let it affect your work: You won’t improve your circumstances by slowing your work down, coming in late, taking extended lunches or doing something else (as payback) to provoke your boss. You want to stay on good terms with the rest of the crew, owners, other managers, etc., and you’ll keep your job until you’re ready to move on.
- Take a leadership position in your area: Sometimes you can head off a disaster by taking the lead and making things run more smoothly on your own. Keep your boss in the loop so you don’t seem to be overstepping your authority, though.
- Be aware of what triggers an outburst: If you know that certain actions cause your manager to melt-down, make sure you’re on top of your area and eliminating those triggers. Be extra vigilant to avoid making those mistakes or creating those issues.
- Discuss the situation at a calm moment: This only works if your boss is a rational person most of the time. Once he/she is calm, try to provide some feedback if they are open to hearing about how that behavior affects the crew.
- Recap what you heard: When discussing an issue, it helps to repeat back what you heard and verify by asking “is that what you mean?” That makes the other person feel heard and gives you both an opportunity to come to an agreement.
- Consider leaving for another position: If this kind of behavior is happening all the time and your manager is not open to discussion or change, it’s time to move on. In the meantime, use the strategies listed above until you can find a better situation.
The bottom line: Avoid future hot-headed restaurant managers by doing your homework when applying for a new job. Take time to chat with the current crew and understand what’s expected day-to-day. Try to learn as much as you can about your prospective boss before you take the leap. You’re looking for someone who has great customer service skills and can lead teams of people with tact and problem-solving skills.