How to Groom Employees into Managers

Developing management team members and hiring from within is one of the most important priorities for a restaurant operator. It is common for GMs and operators to take on a full plate of tasks without seeking out help. It is also common for independent operators to look outside the organization – especially to managerial candidates with corporate experience – when hiring a new manager. These are frequent mistakes that independent GMs make that really can be avoided with a simple mindset.

That’s right; hiring from within can be an important step in taking the business to the next level, provided that you have the right framework for grooming employees to take the next step. There are several advantages to hiring from within:

  • The chance to more thoroughly get to know a candidate
  • The ability to prepare them for the increased responsibility
  • Benefit from a decrease in training costs
  • Chance to develop a training program in which multiple candidates participate
  • Hand-pick candidates based on past performance
  • Demonstrate to employees that effort and performance lead to rewards

While the benefits to hiring from within should be apparent in most cases, mistakes are often made by managers who lack the foresight to develop a program for groom employees.

Specifically, it can be major challenge for front-of-the-house employees to enter management. This usually means the loss of a flexible schedule and a transition from tips to a salaried position. In addition, hourly employees transitioning into management may have trouble establishing authority and delegating to their former peers. For all of these reasons, it is imperative that managers develop a program for grooming employees.

Let Candidates Come to You

The first step is to have candidates identify themselves through opportunities posted by the management team. These opportunities might include requests for contributions to special projects or off-site gigs like food shows or catering events. These are a good chance for an employee to demonstrate that they’re willing to go the extra mile.

It is common for managers to take the first step by speaking first with employees about entering management and the benefits that await them. Instead, cultivate opportunities for employees to speak with the GM or operator. The best way to do this is to provide a chance for more involvement with the restaurant.

Develop an Hourly MIT Position

An hourly manager-in-training (MIT) position provides several benefits. It is most beneficial for an overworked management team, in which an employee receiving an hourly wage increase fills in once or twice a week, opening up the doors in the morning or leading training classes for new hires. Larger restaurants may have the option of opening up multiple training positions.

This provides several benefits for the restaurant:

  • It allows candidates to compete against each other
  • It lets the operator select the most worthy candidate
  • It lets MITs develop at their own pace
  • It provides an incentive for hard-working employees looking for advancement

The hourly MIT program can simply be an elevated leadership position without attaching specific expectations for management training. But developing a platform for training and grooming employees can benefit the entire restaurant, provided that it’s cost-effective and fits within labor percentage targets.

Identify Valuable Traits

One step that is too frequently overlooked by managers is the identification of the skills that an employee should have before being trained into management. Simply indicating interest should be only one of many qualities managers look for in a management trainee. Others should include:

  • People skills
  • Organization skills
  • Endurance
  • Experience in multiple restaurants
  • Excel or Office proficiency
  • Ability to learn quickly

Most managerial candidates will not have all of these qualities. But a major concern about hiring managers always relates to finding out if the evil you don’t know is worse than those you do (among current managers). It’s important to uncover and recognize the drawbacks of a managerial candidate and weigh them against the skills and talents the candidate brings to the table.

Weed out the Bad Hires Quickly

If hiring good employees was easy, every restaurant would be succeeding. But hiring is and always will be a crapshoot. This means that it’s important to stay vigilant and weed out the bad hires as soon as possible. The first step to grooming strong employees into managers is having a strong workforce to choose from. Weeding out the bad apples helps build strong employees quickly, which sets the stage for successfully hiring from within.