Business and Operations
Pizza on Fire: November 2012
By Tom Stankiewicz
Hiring the right young manager
By Tom Stankiewicz
Running your own business is a 24-7 job. There is no such thing as taking a break or leaving the office at 5 p.m.
Running your own business is a 24-7 job. There is no such thing as taking a break or leaving the office at 5 p.m. This is especially true for those who have recently started a business, but in reality, the pressure truly never goes away. When we are lucky enough to be on vacation with our families, we stay connected to our businesses via e-mail, phone or the Internet. But there is nothing wrong with that because our main priority as business owners is to always be on top of everything that takes place at our pizza stores. A lot of what takes place involves our staff.
The fact is that most, if not all, of our employees are students from high school or college. Year by year, we will keep getting older and, whether we like it or not, we will always have to deal with young people working for us. With time, the age gap will get bigger and bigger. You can’t just leave for a week and let your young employees take care of your business with no one in charge. You need time to concentrate on other aspects of the business and reliable help with the basic, but necessary, day-to-day operations. One tried and very practical way of solving this problem is to hire a manager whose responsibility will be to take over some of those basic duties.
As I mentioned above, many of our employees represent the younger generation who work part time with school as their main commitment. This is dilemma number 1 because they view the job as a part-time job, nothing more than that. We’ve all received last-minute phone calls from students who can’t make it for a critical evening shift because they have to study for exams. In this case, open communication is the key, and I have found that the best person for the job is a younger manager for whom it’s easier to relate to those employees. It’s a matter of a quick conversation starter for them because it’s likely many of them have recently written exams. Delegating management to someone younger allows everybody to feel part of a team and talk comfortably about things that are important to them. At the same time, it makes employees feel less nervous about requesting days off for school-related projects/exams because they know their manager understands their situation.
As we get older, it’s not easy to remember what our attitude was like toward work when we were young. Is it fair to have high expectations and work standards for someone in this age group? I think the answer is definitely “yes.” That’s when, again, it’s helpful to have this type of manager train your employees. It’s interesting to see how differently two individuals can communicate the same training material. Nonetheless, it is somehow absorbed more quickly when explained by a manager who is closer to the employees in age. It’s almost like they have their own way of communicating with one another. If you can find a manager who can do this efficiently and effectively, then it’s one less thing that you have to look after.
When you’re not a teenager or young adult yourself, then it’s a bit difficult to deal with some situations that arise at work. It’s easy to forget what your work ethic was when you attended college or high school. When most of your employees represent that specific demographic, it’s tough sometimes to relate to them. As teenagers or young adults, they have problems that need to be heard. A well-chosen manager who can talk to them on the same level can address their concerns and free up your valuable time.
The manager also plays an important part in boosting and keeping employee morale high. As a business owner you need to ensure that it is someone who fits into the role you need fulfilled. As an example, it takes very little effort for my manager to come up with ideas and organize an employee get-together because she knows what teenagers are into these days. Remembering and recognizing employees’ birthdays is another part of her job. These are small but significant ways of keeping everybody happy at work.
If you find yourself stressed and working 24 hours a day, it might be time to hire a manager, even if only for part-time hours. My suggestion is to bring in someone who will fit in well and relate to your employees. It will make it easier to motivate your staff to work hard and do the best they can. Most importantly, it will allow you to delegate some daily business duties to somebody else, giving you additional time to concentrate on other parts of your business that require your attention.
Tom Stankiewicz has been in the pizza business for more than 15 years. He has been the proprietor of Bondi’s Pizza in London, Ont., since 2000, and is president of the Canadian Pizza Team.