How to turn a team member into a manager

The days of being able to fill a supervisory or management vacancy with a candidate from outside your business without causing chaos or spending serious amounts of time and money on the exercise are all but gone. Even if you win “recruitment tattslotto” and find a seemingly suitable manager or supervisor on the job market, an alarmingly high proportion of senior staff appointments fail within the first six months. Unfortunately, the hospitality talent pool for senior roles is rather shallow.

With unemployment rates nearing all-time lows, you must consider ways of solving the perennial skills shortage problem that are different from the same old ‘’post an ad online and hope for the best’’ routine.

While those looking for a quick fix are unlikely to be impressed, an unhurried and methodical approach to growing your own managers from within is a proven way of ensuring a steady supply of supervisors and managers for your business into the future. Large hospitality companies and hotels know this to be true and set aside an annual budget for this purpose. Changing market conditions have dragged small and medium-sized hospitality businesses to the realisation that they must develop the next generation of key staff themselves to survive.

Consider this as a roadmap, or career development pathway for an employee of a small or medium-sized business who aspires to become a hospitality manager.

  1. Technical and soft skills

The first step is to ensure that the employee has grasped the basic technical and soft skills needed to be productive in the business while being prepared for a senior position. They also need to be given an understanding of how each department operates individually, and in relation to each other. The most efficient and effective way to achieve this is to expose the new employee to experience in each area of the business. This is commonly referred to as cross-training.

Cross training in a restaurant environment would typically involve spending time as a waiter and bartender to learn about sales, service and gain product knowledge. Then spending time as a kitchen hand or commis chef to learn about food production, followed by spending time assisting the functions/events sales team to learn about revenue generation and event coordination on a large scale. The objective of cross training is to give the employee hands-on experience in all the departments they will manage in the future. The benefit of this approach is that the future manager will appreciate the challenges that exist in each department and the friction that may exist between them. It arms the future manager with enough knowledge of each department to be able to tell if a senior team member is ‘trying it on’ at some point down the track.

  1. Training skills

The next step in developing the future manager is to put them into the role of departmental trainer. Here they will take responsibility for the onboarding and initial skills training of all new staff in a department. This role is an excellent proving ground for future managers because it requires similar communication skills to those of a supervisor, without having the added pressure of responsibility for the whole team. At this point, the future manager would attend the “How to Train” workshop to learn effective training techniques. If the trainee manager succeeds as department trainer, they are ready for further development. If not, their development should stop.

Any career advancement beyond department trainer requires team supervision and team development skills. If senior staff can’t train, they won’t be effective in their role.

  1. Leadership skills

Once the future manager has proven themselves as a competent trainer, the next step is to put them into the role of supervisor. While overseeing a team, they must develop leadership and team building skills.

A supervisor must learn how to run the business on a day-to-day basis. This involves understanding how to deal with people (hiring, performance management, counselling and discipline) and money (stock control, wage control, purchasing etc). Supervisors should also spend time understanding the administration functions of the business such as payroll and accounting. They need to understand this to manage successfully. At some point within six months of being appointed as supervisor, the future manager should be given training in leadership communication (How to Lead) and recruitment skills (How to Choose).

  1. Management skills

Making the jump from supervisor to manager can be difficult. It requires focus on business growth, marketing, people development and financial control while relinquishing day to day supervisory responsibilities. A combination of time in the role and external short courses in management skills, spread over 18 months to 2 years can work very well. When a manager has the chance to put classroom theory into practice while being in charge of a business, we see the best results.

If you want to talk to us about how to develop your staff in a structured way, get in touch.



Chris Lambert