Who's in charge of your restaurant?

Charlie said….. Marla said….. Patrice said…..

He said, she said. It’s a game that gets played in a lot of businesses. Not having a defined “pecking order” that is understood by every person in your organization can lead to a lot of unneccessary headaches. Here’s a quick lesson about avoiding this business pitfall.

Who is in charge when you’re not in your restaurant? Who is your second when you are/aren’t there?

Every good business structure includes a management tree. At the top is the owner(s). Just below, the CEO or General Manager. Underneath may be assistant managers, shift supervisors, trainers, tenured employess and new employees. Any which way the hierarchy of your restaurant shakes out, it’s very important that your entire staff understands who is in charge at any given time.

Not having a set chain of command leads to confusion. To a new employee, any person in your business is someone to be obeyed and learned from. As I’m sure you know, different employees of yours have different methods for doing the same thing. One may be better, one may be worse. Either way, the only way things should be getting done is yours. This is only possible with accountability through creating a chain of command that allows you to police your systems and correct errors within the system.

When creating a system of hierarchy, avoid this one common mistake; do NOT give equal, shared authority to two different employees. Sharing authority equaly creates stalemates and sets you up to lose track of who is accountable when the wrong decisions are made. He said, she said.

Create a management tree. Don’t split authority. Hold your staff accountable.

Brandon O’Dell
O’Dell Restaurant Consulting
Office: (888) 571-9068

How can I make my employees accountable?


When you work in an excuse-driven culture, how do you change the mindset and teach others to become accountable?


Unfortunately, the most effective method for me to implement quick changes in attitude is through forcing it. That almost always requires “executing a hostage in front of the firing squad”.

Words are the first step. Accountability has to be taught as an expectation. You tell employees that your business expects them to be accountable, which means doing everything THEY can do to fix a situation rather than concentrating on what someone else should have done to avoid it.

I teach that they only have control over themselves, and they will get the most accomplished by concentrating on what they DO have control of (themself) rather than what they DON’T have control of (others).

Once they know you expect them to be accountable, you have to hold them accountable. That means no exceptions to the rules, no favorite employees who get away with things, and unequal punishment. It also means having pre-determined punishment for violations to documented rules, and making sure employees are taught those rules and sign an agreement to follow them.

Once the rules and the punishments are in place. The only thing left is equal and fair enforcement. Even a tough boss will be seen as fair if everyone is playing by the same rules. The bad attitudes most often come when there isn’t enough accountability, and people are allowed to break the rules. Then, employees who follow the rules are the ones who feel slighted, and they end up being the ones who leave. When rules are fair, and enforced consistently, the bad employees are the ones who leave.

Any time a situation gets bad, I’ve found it’s often necessary to fire someone to get compliance from the rest. This is especially necessary when there has been an extended lack of rule enforcement.

When I observe an “excuse-driven” culture, it almost always means there is a lack of consistent enforcement of the rules.