The stress of middle management is nothing to laugh at.
Those of us in customer service industries understand the daily grind of dissatisfied soccer moms, enraged businessmen, unavoidable staffing shortages, unruly and irresponsible employees, pressure from upper management, and struggles against our own flaws, anger issues, and inadequacies.
For us….the struggle is real.
E v e r y d a y .
If I’m not careful I soon have 1,000,000 reasons why it’s okay for me to run over people, fly off the handle, or let my looks kill in order to “get the job done”.
But HOLD UP A SECOND….
What is my job again?
No…not what does my district manager “insinuate with his attitude” that my job is.
What emotionally imbalanced, road-raged customers insist my job is.
What those under me think my job is.
BUT what does it really say in my job description? What does “management” really MEAN?
There is much more to it then simply results. If it were that easy to achieve those result we wouldn’t feel like lighting our hair on fire some days.
So in the naked, bare-boned sense what is my responsibility as a individual in management?
I would love to provide for us a clear cut spread sheet on how to be a successful manager. Or a nifty, color-coded pie chart on how to handle our peeps and responsibilities…..but the truth is; this stuff is messy.
Way to messy to nail down in sales goals and growth development plans.
As much as we try to dance around it there is a human element involved in our job that is attached to EVERYTHING.
We are responsible for the empowerment, growth, motivation, and coaching of PEOPLE.
Sure, we’re also responsible for cleanliness, sales, customer satisfaction, etc….etc….etc….
But all of these things hinge on the way we interact and invest in our crew.
We cannot accomplish any of those business goals flying solo with crowd of employees that would rather quit than work together.
Our team can make or break our jobs let’s face it.
So how do we help? What can we possibly do to sustain positive interactions with people who have to work in close proximity with each other in, sometimes, unbearable conditions?
How about a little barista code to live by:
Reward hard work.
I don’t care if it’s a high five for unclogging a toilet or a gift card for selling the most coffee beans. Even the most cynical barista needs affirmation. They may blow you off like you’re a gushy parent; but without it they will become dissatisfied and bitter……anyone would.
Enforce your boss’s mandatory preferences: even if they are not your preferences.
Why? Because the secret sauce for a positive work environment is RESPECT; and that starts from the top.
Stay as tough as nails when necessary.
Part of respect is not letting crew members disrespect each other. If Amanda is always picking up half of Tyler’s work; Tyler needs to know that he is hurting the team and disrespecting Amanda…..and that is a big deal. These conversations are the worst and will make you wish your shop carried Bailey’s on tap to mix with your espresso…..but it’s okay. There is much to be said for leadership that is courageous enough to get dirty instead of looking the other way.
Play hard because you work hard.
NEVER……….EVER……..I mean N E V E R…..underestimate the power of comedic relief. By all means, harness whatever humerus bones you have in your body; no matter how small. It will be your greatest weapon in your arsenal against negativity and stress induced sarcasm. You can stop spats from happening on your floor before they start with a well-timed satire, or anecdote. Hec, I don’t care if you have to break out the memes, just lighten the mood.
Excellence is it’s own motivation.
This will not hold true for every employee; you will have some that just want to punch in, work as little as possible, and get the hec outta dodge. But this is NOT the rule. Believe it or not, some crew members (specifically males between the ages of 18 and 27) simply disengage when they find their work to not be challenging. Understandable. Your shop is not McDonalds….you can excel in the coffee craft if you would like. Pull up a barista championship and bust out the competitive latte art. There is more to this industry than 30 second mochas and millions of blended diabetic comas waiting to happen. Sometimes we just have to remember it’s there.
Create a safe environment.
Let’s remember that though we are apron-clad, espresso slinging machines….we are still HUMAN. This means we mess up, we freak out, and give up sometimes. It happens. Know when to pull out the pink slips and when to offer grace. (And not passive-agressive “It’ll be worse for you next time this happens” grace but complete “I have no recollection of your wrong” type of grace). Remind your crew that you are all still learning. Be the first to admit that YOU are wrong. There is valor in apologies and respect to be gained when you have the you-know-whats to give them. Bottom line: if good employees have to live in perpetual terror they will quit……every time. You know it’s true.
Treat others with…….you nailed it……..RESPECT.
Sometimes people are just not cut out for the high-paced, ADHD inducing nature of the coffee industry. It’s hard when you have to pull the plug on someone. Or when they peace out because they would rather shuffle papers around then scream people’s names out over crowds of cell-phone addicted zombies. Deep down can you really blame them? Even the punk kid that was slug McSludge on bar and wiped drinks off with his apron……even after you almost threw up when you watched him do it, even he has goals, dreams, and abilities. Don’t be too hard on him just because they are different than yours. Let him go with class and RESPECT.