What This Fast Food Manager Did Not Learn in Training

Managing a fast food restaurant sounds easy. Often times, management job applicants are not required to have a college degree. Sometimes they are recruited from within and do not have to pass any formal tests to become managers. The barriers to entry into fast food management are very low and one could conclude that it does not take much skill to manage a fast food restaurant. That is not true.On top of learning the basics of operating a restaurant, new managers will benefit from learning about health inspection standards and people management.Health InspectionIt is common sense that bathrooms and food preparation areas have to be cleaned and disinfected constantly. Other cleaning duties include: the soda machines have to be taken apart and cleaned, the ice machine has to be emptied so that no pink mildew can form, the floors, menus, tables, chairs, window sills, salt & pepper shaker and more have to be wiped, the refrigerators need to be clean inside and out, and the food holding areas have to be at the right temperatures.All these things are sort of ‘easy’ to learn and could be considered common sense. It takes a little more industry-savvy to know about proper freezer storage. For example, it is unsafe to stack the boxes that contain frozen meat products above the boxes that contain frozen desserts items. Many restaurants require their managers to become ServSafe Food Safety certified, but unless all workers involved in the food storage process are educated on the proper techniques, correct storage procedures can be difficult to enforce.Other examples of health code violations that new managers might not be aware of: The dumpsters outside and shelving inside the restaurant cannot be rusty, the temperature and detergent concentration of dishwashers must meet standards, chemicals must be properly labeled, food must the thawed a certain way, and plates or plastic cups may not be chipped.If you are a new manager, ask your company to help you learn about health code regulations.People ManagementNew fast food managers may not anticipate that they will spend a lot of time managing employee performance and dealing with employee issues. The expectations new managers have can be quite different from reality. New managers are often most concerned with getting tasks done; how to cook a certain dish, how to create an employee schedule, place a truck order or how to do payroll.The new manager may not realize that staff management and relationship building is a priority and requires solid leadership skills.Other stressful situations new managers are likely to encounter include employees calling-in last minute and constant schedule changes. Making adjustments to the work schedule is quite normal, but can be stressful at first. Managers should feel confident about which schedule change requests are valid and will be allowed and which ones will not. (“My sister is getting married”, “My vehicle is in the shop”, “I will not have a babysitter”)A manager will have to fire employees. It seems easy to let somebody go for gross misconduct. But it is much tougher to fire someone for underperformance without the underperforming employee trying to get unemployment or even sue the company. A manager needs to document all employee conduct and performance issues, provide verbal and written warnings, set clear goals and expectations, and if the employee’s job performance does not improve, the manager has to let the employee go.Another thing some managers might not learn in training is how to properly motivate a workforce without spending any money. It is never okay to ‘threaten’ to fire employees if they do exactly not do as the manager asks. Proper motivation techniques include instilling pride in the workers about their jobs. A manager with good leadership skills can have a very positive effect on employee satisfaction. Unfortunately, many fast food companies do not invest in their managers’ leadership development.If you are a new manager, educate yourself about leadership so that you can create a work environment in which everyone can thrive and be productive.