Management Strategies for Small Restaurants

Delegation is one of the most difficult aspects of running a small restaurant, and often managers run into the common problems of either abdicating too much responsibility or micromanaging the employee. A couple of tools managers can use to more effectively delegate are the “Ladder of Leadership” and “Task Relevant Maturity.”

The Ladder of Leadership is the idea that employees should communicate differently as their skills advance. An entry level employee might communicate with “tell me what to do”, while a more senior employee should communicate with “I have done the following.” This image represents the idea: 

Managers and employees alike should be thinking about where they rank on the leadership ladder, and should try to move up the rungs. For employees, try to challenge yourself to advance beyond simply following orders to a point where you can make well-educated recommendations about how to solve problems or how to complete tasks. For managers, be actively thinking about where employees are on the ladder when assigning tasks. You should not expect communication at a 5 from an employee operating at a 1-2 level. Managers should also be openly discussing this idea with employees, and working with them to develop their skills and move them up the ladder.

Hand in hand with this idea is Task Relevant Maturity, or how effectively someone can complete a specific task. Every person has different TRM for each task, and is not necessarily connected with seniority: very senior people within the company can have low TRM for a given task. This image represents the general idea:

Employees with low TRM need more structured, task oriented management at the 1 - 2 levels.  Managers should not expect these employees to efficiently complete tasks without strong guidance. Employees with a medium TRM are more individually oriented, but still require manager support and open communication consistent with the 3-6 levels. Employees with high TRM should be managed at the 7 level: they require only minimal involvement by the manager and have the capacity to set objectives and meet them.


To conclude with some high level overview, it is important to remember that the Ladder of Leadership works hand in hand with Task Relevant Maturity. For any given task, the manager and employee should discuss these concepts. Work together and learn at the assigning of the task what the employee’s TRM is and agree on where you both want to be on the Ladder, and communicate on the basis of that agreement. Finally, always encourage people to move up the ladder, even if this makes them uncomfortable. Advancing these skills is important for personal growth and development, and applicable to any workplace environment.