Management Tips from “Restaurant Impossible”

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Don't mess with the restaurant wizard, and also the inspiration for this blog post. source:

Don’t mess with the restaurant wizard, and also the inspiration for this blog post.

This article was written by Lindsey Sampson, a 3rd year international affairs student at NU as a regular student contributor for The Works. Follow her blog here and/or tweet her @lindseygsampson

Robert Irvine is a terrifying mix of Dr. Phil and that screaming guy from Hell’s Kitchen. He breaks you down and builds you back up again, all in the span of one 30-minute episode because he’s that kind of guy. While you endure the emotional roller coaster that is an episode of Restaurant: Impossible, there are also management lessons to be learned.

Set the example. If you don’t care about the success of your project, it’s hard to make anyone else care. You set the example for your staff (or co-workers). Show up, do great



work, and step in where you are needed. The boss isn’t above washing dishes or sweeping the floor after a busy night. Leadership isn’t all about delegating – sometimes you have to get your hands dirty.

Keep it simple. Don’t try to do too many things. It’s better to do a few things well than several things poorly. It’s a big red flag when a restaurant’s menu is ten pages long. Usually, Robert will cut it down to only a few menu items to ensure the highest quality. In the office, it’s more effective to focus on one or two tasks at a time than try to keep fifteen projects in the air.

Instill a sense of ownership. Kitchens and projects fail when the team has no sense of dedication or ownership. When the boss empowers his or her staff by assigning jobs and following up with individual staff members on their productivity (and giving proper recognition for goals reached), the staff gains more confidence, which leads to greater productivity.

Recognize talent. I’m a sucker for inspirational television. America’s Got Talent? Tear-jerker, no questions asked. When that uber-capable busboy on Restaurant: Impossible was promoted to shift manager? Nearly killed me. Look for the talent in your group, and foster it by recognizing and rewarding it. Allow people to step up and prove themselves in leadership roles.

Do not ignore problem workers. There’s always one kid spitting in the onion rings. Every episode, there’s an employee making waves and causing trouble. It’s never a secret, everyone knows who it is, and that worker usually turns it around during the course of the episode (or, sometimes, they’re fired). If you recognize one of these problem workers in your group, it’s your job as the boss to look into the problem and fix it.

You don’t have to be a screaming Robert Irvine to be a good manager. Understanding your team and learning to motivate them is crucial in developing an effective, productive team.

Lindsey Sampson is a middler International Affairs major with minors in Social Entrepreneurship and Writing. She enjoys writing about Millennials in the workplace and social media as a marketing tool. Follow her blog here and/or tweet her @lindseygsampson.


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