The restaurant industry is plagued with under-performing management. But we really only have ourselves to blame. Historically this industry has been one defined by chaos, emergency, and urgency. We've all said the phrase a million times, "have a sense of urgency." Urgency is fine, but it's not a skill set. It's a mentality.

So what are the essential skills a manager needs to effectively manage highly active situations?

1. Analysis skills. A manager needs to quickly understand any situation and make decisions based on qualified analysis. This is not a skill that comes naturally to most. It needs to be learned.

2. Problem solving skills. Big companies have turned problem solving into full time positions. We can learn from them why these techniques are critical to solving the real problems of an organization and not just the symptoms that we see.

3. Leadership skills. Think of it this way. Management is about procedure, leadership is about people. Contrary to what many think are two separate skills, management and leadership can not be seen independently. While we must have as much control over the process of a company as managers, we must also recognize that we are in service to those that do the work. Scrap the term boss. You are there to help the them. Not the other way around!

4. Learning. Learning may not be seen as a skill onto itself. But it is something that needs to become part of any good managers DNA. If you are not learning and pushing your own limits of knowledge you’ll lag behind and eventually won’t be able to stand up against those that are pushing themselves. You’ll run yourself right into not be qualified for any legitimate position. So pick up some books, read the essential magazines, and keep learning new skills.

Let’s be real about how quickly the food industry is changes and as a result the necessary skills needed to manage effectively. It’s not just P&L anymore. It’s deeper experience in areas that have long been absent in restaurant work. If you really want to climb to the top you’re going to need to know more than just how to cut labor and food cost.

Russell Baltes