I had been Bar Manger in the Green Villa for two years, where I was managing bar responsibilities in events of up to 400 people, when I decided to leave in order to manage my grandfather’s business. I had been in charge of recruiting, training and managing the over 10 bartending employees as well as pricing and managing $10,000 worth of inventory.
When I handed my resignation to the manager, I assured him that I would not only find my replacement, but properly train him/her no matter how long it took.
Emotionally attached to the place and the people, I was very passionate about the bar and its development. I considered it my personal mission to find someone who would be the best for the job. I began by reviewing my 5-person staff to determine if anyone ‘in-house’ was qualified to take over; otherwise, I would have had to explore the option of hiring someone. I much preferred promoting from within, despite the lack in management experience. I believed the high level of commitment of my employees, as well as their excellent relationships with the rest of the Green Villa staff, was crucial.
I knew that I had a rough diamond among my staff, Dan. Extremely efficient and professional, Dan possessed excellent customer relations skills and got along well with his fellow employees. In spite of all these elements there was a big problem – his maturity. I knew I had a huge task ahead of me: guiding Dan through the transition from an employee mind-set of a manager. I knew that given the right guidance, Dan was the best candidate to replace me. I was eager to help him become the professional manager that the Green Villa deserved.
I related my decision to the company manager and he agreed that Dan was the right person for the job. When I offered Dan the position, he was very delighted and accepted on the spot.
I began by taking him through the logistic responsibilities. To ensure that Dan approached each task with the necessary attention, I stressed the importance of each responsibility for ensuring Customer satisfaction. Within 2 weeks I encouraged Dan to assume logistic responsibilities while I monitored. Believing dialog is a crucial tool for guidance, when the occasional mistake occurred I would point it out and discuss with him the logic behind the appropriate decision-making process. I saw that Dan responded well to this kind of feedback, as his organizational capabilities strengthened and his confidence grew.
The most delicate aspect of this training period was managing the transition of Dan’s status in relation to the staff. This was crucial to both shift assignments and actual work behind the bar. I stressed to Dan the considerations that must guide him when filling all shifts: as the manager, he is responsible for ensuring a balance between creating a strong team and considering employees’ availability, abilities and needs.
I emphasized the importance of personal example, responsibility and welcoming feedback from the staff. Through an exercise where we conceptualized the ideal employee, we highlighted traits Dan must aspire to demonstrate through his work as manager.
After 2 months, I knew Dan was ready. I gave him control over all responsibilities, under my supervision. Of the opinion that mistakes are an indispensible part of learning, I would only intervene on rare occasions. I would offer my feedback after events and we would review what had happened. I first challenged him to analyze the event through his eyes. Then I suggested alternatives and pointed out several things he had missed, discussing the implications both on the event and the long-term work.
After 3 months, the time came for my final goodbye. I made it clear to Dan that I would always be available. I knew the bar was in good hands: Dan had effectively transformed from team-mate to professional manager. He earned the trust of his employees, providing constructive criticism and positive feedback when needed, while being attentive to their needs. A month later, when I stopped by, the HR told me that I had made the right choice, and that Dan was proving himself to be quite an effective manager, confident and full of initiative. When Dan called me 2 months later, thanking me for pushing him forward and guiding him, I felt great personal satisfaction.