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James Williams

Three managerial principles I wrote down in 2015

In my mid-20s—okay, mid- to late-20s—I worked as the Assistant Manager of a restaurant. It was a formative time for me, though I didn’t fully realize it then.

In 2015 I jotted down three managerial principles on Medium that had been percolating in my mind. (Medium at the time was quite in-vogue). Having forgotten all about this account, I stumbled upon it and it struck me as uncharacteristically good advice from my otherwise uninformed young self.

The following is dated May 10, 2015.

I keep three things in mind on a day to day basis that help me decide on a particular course of action, how best to conduct myself in a given situation, or where to focus my energy where demand outstrips supply.

  1. As a leader, your most critical function is teaching and supporting your people. You are not your business — your employees are, and your job is to develop them into strong ambassadors of the brand. The quality of your product, the happiness of your customers, the volume of your sales all follow from the attitude and competence of your staff. Interpersonal skills and the ability to make improvements and criticisms without being hurtful or discouraging are perhaps the most critical attribute of any manager. Positive feedback is important.
  2. Organization and prioritization. Simply find a way to ensure that no details are missed and nothing slips through the cracks. Do what you can to minimize surprises; be flexible and adaptable when they do occur.
  3. Managing your own attitude. You set the tone and energy. I work in a fast-paced, high stress business where this is particularly important. Letting small incidents send you into an outwardly visible tailspin is a quick and sure way of crashing a complex or time-sensitive operation. Your staff feed off your energy and positivity, and being mindful of that is critically important. A friend once told me, “head to work each day as if you were going to war.” — Expect and anticipate problems in a manner such that they won’t ruin your day when they occur. Keep it light and save the over reactions for incidents that warrant it.

Along with hard work and volition, these three points seem to work well for me. I’m still young and stupid, so take with a dash of salt.

Will update as I make more mistakes and learn from them.

Bonus: I also wrote this, titled reviews_cometh.txt:

The customers grow restless in the evenings. They arrive in numbers by moonlight and street lamp, hungry for bread and wine. It is in these hours, as dusk comes ever sooner with each revolution, they wait.

At the door, they wait.

For drinks, they wait.

For their meat and their honey…

They wait.

In these desperate moments — moments of hope then anger, denial then acceptance, they reach upon their mobile devices and tap.

For the negative reviews cometh.