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People-dependent vs. System-dependent, which should you prefer?

Updated: Jun 19, 2020

Isn't a dream come true for any restaurant owner to have an operation that runs fast and smoothly, even without his or her physical presence?

But as the saying goes, when the cat's away, the mice will play.

Sometimes, it happens when people will do as they please in the absence of their supervisor or manager, especially in neglecting or breaking the rules.

As a restaurant owner or manager, did this ever happen to your operations?

Do you notice a shift in your operations or standards, whether you are there or not there?

How about the performance of the team, does it change when your manager is present or absent?

We recently went through this season in our restaurant that whenever the manager is there, everything goes well and fast. The staff is out, and things are spotlessly clean.

But the moment the manager steps out of the restaurant, the team's standard suddenly goes down. It's as though people are quite not on top of it without supervision.

And this is quite alarming.

First of all, kudos to our manager for being well-respected by the team. In his presence, it makes a difference in the performance of the crew.

However, on the other hand, as a business owner, it is a point of vulnerability -I have a team that relies on a person (our manager).

We have a people-dependent operation. And it is a vulnerable place to be in because ideally, we want our people to be dependent on a system.

We want our managers to enforce the system and not their opinions. People must know that they need to abide by the rules of the company.

What are these rules?

For instance, with our ticket time standards, we need to document it, so we make sure we hold the team accountable when it comes to it.

Whether our manager is there or not there, the staff must comply with our standard ticket times. As you know, we are pretty much obsessed with our speed of service.

Another example is our closing times. For instance, when the manager isn't there, it takes an hour and a half to close.

But what is the standard for the team to know? That it must only take 45 minutes to close the store. Like within 45 minutes, everybody is out, and these items need to get done.

To ensure that the team strictly follows, we need to have a system.

For us, we have a checklist that staff accomplishes every day. This way, we can hold the team accountable.

So here's my question for you. Do you think you are vulnerable that your team is people dependent? Or would you say that they are system dependent?

A restaurant operation that runs fast and smoothly with or without you or the managers -this should be our goal. And yes, it is possible if you have a team that relies on a system, and not on a single or a few persons.


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