A Manager, who does more than just manage; to get by.


Chef Matthew Dobry
Chef Matthew Dobry, as seen in The Next Great Chef 2007

A Manager, who does more than just manage; to get by.


Lately I’ve been wracking my brain to figure out why businesses are so willing to place managers in positions, overwhelmingly stacked in favour of failure, where the seemingly best that manager can do, is manage to get by from day-to-day.

I contemplated, is the challenge the training, or lack of we give them.  Is is the people we choose, or the system we use to choose who we put in place, or simply indifference or desperation?

I recently had the opportunity to work with a manager, who though young and inexperienced, seemed to have a natural disposition to managing improvement rather than simply to survive.  I’d like to share with you some observations of his character and techniques that might help you in training, or selecting a manager that can do more than simply survive.

When Chef Matthew Dobry took charge of a small restaurant, one part of a multi-million dollar food service operation in multi-building, facility, there was little fan fare.  The restaurant had operated for over half a year without supervision, getting by day-by-day (by the skin of their teeth) and there was a lot of work to be done.  He came with a culinary background, that included cooking for diplomats, senators, and members of parliament; he knew good food and at the time the restaurant did not have it.

He was Uncompromising

He took charge and committed to his staff that they would cook and serve food that they would be proud to admit to.  Now there were (many) challenges but his uncompromising nature led his devotion to get it right.  He had no problem telling his bosses what he needed to deliver on his promise, and although he never got everything he asked for he delivered on every commitment he made.

He had passion, energy

Every day as his staff prepared for service he would gather them together for a pre-shift huddle that reminded me of Alec Baldwin’s character in Glengarry Glenross, the energy that is, the language and method were much more positive.  He would describe the feature items in mouth-watering detail, occasionally even produce a sample for the staff to try, prepare their expectations of the day, deal with any housekeeping issues, and send them bustling away in a burst of energy.  The whole process would remind you of a team about to take the field and wallop the opposition.  The thing that got me thinking was the routine, every day was much the same, like any office or store, warehouse or business that you might work in but right before the important part of the day he brought energy and focus to the task at hand.

He told stories, ones with lessons

Every day, when the doors closed and his staff paused for a breath and bite to eat, he would take the time to stop what he was doing and just be present for a few minutes.  The most impressive days were the days where some hideous derailment had plagued the restaurant, he would as needed address any mistakes and faults in private, then when the staff gathered to eat and decompress, tell a story, a story of another time and another situation much like the one of that day and how the right attitudes, actions, and team work had propelled that group forward.

As always I am Dave Williams, your business steward and I hope you’ve found a valuable idea inside the Idea Vault.

Dave Williams is a business speaker and coach, writer and author of the business blog “The Idea Vault” which hosts million dollar ideas just ready for you to share, it can be found at https://thecodeis1234.wordpress.com and “The Books of Origo” a series of short fantasy tales that can be found at http://worldoforigo.wordpress.com

You can e-visit him at http://www.twitter.com/OrangeSlacks or http://www.facebook.com/IdeaVault and http://ca.linkedin.com/in/ideavault