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Should managers have mandatory on-the-floor times? As a manager I have both appreciated and dreaded mandatory on-the-floor times. Today, we’ll look at whether or not it is a good idea to enforce them or if enforcement doesn’t really matter.

Disadvantages

I’ll start with the contrarian route.

First, managers are very busy and usually have a ton on their plate. With scheduling, inventory, ordering, human resources, paychecks, invoices, marketing, cleaning, and

more; it can cause great anxiety to stand around in a slow dining room when you have so much to do. You don’t have time to work on the business if you’re always working in it.

Second, you pay your employees to do their respective jobs, if you are out on the floor doing a bunch of work, why are you paying them?

Last, managers should be able to tell when it is busy and when it is not. By having mandatory on-the-floor times it implies that your managers are unable to make good decisions. If that’s the case, maybe they shouldn’t be managers.

Benefits

It’s not all bad though, let’s take a look at some of the benefits of mandatory on-the-floor times.

First, being on the floor during the times you are busiest has you in the trenches with your employees. It goes a long way in building organizational health when you are there to back up and support your employees.

Second, your busy times are when your employees are most likely going to make mistakes. By being nearby to help and correct small mistakes you’ll stop them before they become exacerbated.

Third, even when it is slow, by being on-the-floor you are able to observe and cut employees quickly, minimizing labor costs.

Fourth, when waiting for more customers to arrive, you can connect with your employees more effectively. You can talk about flow improvements, customer situations, or just happenings in the world. While you don’t need to have a deep personal connection with your employees, connecting with employees beyond just specifically work-related topics helps everyone feel more comfortable at work. Alternatively, getting employee opinions about restaurant changes can help you improve your restaurant while empowering your employees.

Fifth, having a managerial presence on the floor helps make guests feel more cared for. Many times customers have an issue that they are not comfortable telling their server about. By having a manager present, guests are able to honestly voice their concerns in confidence.

Finally, being on-the-floor during the busiest times allows you to act as the leader. You can rally your troops during the busy times, direct them towards guests that need attention, and fill the gaps when service skips a step.

So, What’s The Right Answer?

Should you have mandatory on-the-floor times or not? While floor times should not be mandatory, disciplined managers will do everything they can to be in the most active parts of their restaurant during the busiest times. If you have a hard time being on-the-floor during busy times, be sure that another manager or supervisor can fill that leadership role.

You’re the manager and in order to effectively manage, you need to be able to lead and direct your employees when the restaurant is the most busy. Schedule your office times at off-peak times.

Finally, if you are viewing your employees strictly as expendable assets that you hire to do a job, you will consistently struggle in this business. This is a service industry, and in fact it’s more. It’s the hospitality industry. Be hospitable. Take care of your employees and they will take care of you.

To the servers, bartenders, and hosts their customers are the restaurant’s customers. They need to make them happy and fulfill their needs in order to be successful. For the kitchen staff the servers and bartenders are their customers. In order to be successful they need to fulfill the servers and bartenders needs and keep them happy. As a manager each member of the staff is your customer. You need to ensure all of their needs are fulfilled and they are happy. Do you think an unhappy employee that feels expendable is going to go out to a table and give them an amazing, memorable experience? Unlikely.

So, circling back, don’t mandate on-the-floor times for managers but do hold them accountable for the success of your restaurant. True managers will ensure they are always nearby when needed which definitely includes any busy times. Allow your managers the freedom to get other projects done when they absolutely need to be but encourage them to be present on the floor as much as possible.