True responsibility means you delegated the authority of the responsibility.

Have you ever wondered why the general manager of your restaurant doesn’t take ownership? If they aren’t, it may be your fault as a boss. You might be saying, “What, you don’t know me.” And you are right I don’t. But after 15 years working restaurant hourly positions and another 25 years running restaurant operations, I can tell you, I know a lot about what you are going to read.

I’ve been on both sides of the coin. I’ve been the one who couldn’t delegate. One time early in my careers a GM, I took total control of my restaurant. I pissed off a lot of my team and I burned out in the process. I’ve been the one who was micromanaged. More than once. And it sucks.

So, what is the difference between accountable and responsible and why do I mention delegation and micro-management?

The difference between accountable and responsible is this: Responsibility is given by the leader to the employee. The leader makes a conscious decision to make the employee responsible for their restaurant. Responsibility comes at a heavy price. It means that no matter whether the general manager is in the building or not, everything is their responsibility. You are holding them responsible because you gave them the responsibility. Responsibility is controlled by the leader.

People say, “You have to hold your people accountable.” That’s B.S. You can’t hold people accountable. Accountability is not coming from the leader. The employee is accountable for the success or failure of running that restaurant. They aren’t held accountable. They either are or they aren’t accountable. Accountable people take ownership.

So, why is this differentiation so important? If you don’t give them the responsibility, they aren’t accountable.

True responsibility means you delegated the authority of the responsibility. You have relinquished control. You have delegated the responsibility. Your only responsibility that is still yours as the leader is to make sure you have properly communicated and trained the employee. After that delegation means stepping back, giving the employee space and your trust. You can follow up by saying, “How’s it going? Do you have any questions or need some help?” It is not taking over.

I love the book, “The One Minute Manager.” The book sets the stage for what I wrote in the last paragraph. It comes down to this. As the leader, you don’t have time to DO all of the work for everyone that reports to you. But you do have time to DELEGATE, it is as simplistic as the following:







Follow Up


Give Credit

I worked with Tomkats Hospitality for a while a few years ago. Tom Morales, the CEO and founder, wrote this quote about me that I have placed on my website He said:

“Monte displayed an experienced, calm leadership that educated our team in how to act as owners while holding them responsible for the bottom line.” 

I put this quote on my website because it is one of the greatest and most profound compliments I’ve received personally. Notice he didn’t say I held them accountable? He said responsible. And he said leadership and ownership not managers and employees. It’s that simple and it’s that hard.

Give your people responsibility. Communicate and show them what you want. Then delegate. It’s OK if they make mistakes. Your restaurant will survive. Give up control and let them learn, grow, and thrive. When you do this, your restaurant will grow beyond your limits. It will grow to the possibilities of your people.

Editor’s note: This is the 18th article in a new column from restaurant expert Monte Silva. More on the series can be found here. The first story, on Why Underpaying Restaurant Employees is a Recipe for Disaster, is here. The second, on Why Marketing is Not Expensive, is here. The third, on people-centric leadership, is here. The fourth, on Why Working 70-Hour Weeks in Your Restaurant is Not the Answer, is here. The fifth, on How to Provide Hospitality in a High-Tech, Low-Touch World, is here. The sixth, on ‘The Convertible Culture’ in Restaurants, is here. The seventh, on Why the Old P&L Model Has Set Restaurants Up for Failure,’ is here. The eighth, on How to Scale Your Restaurant Business When There is Only One of You, is here. The ninth article, The Secret to Finding and Keeping Great Employees is Not Difficult, is here. The 10th, What Culture Do You Really Want at Your Restaurant?, is here. The 11th, on Your Restaurant Should Serve People, Not Product, is here. The 12th, on Don’t Let Shiny New Toys Distract Your Restaurant from What’s Most Important, is here. The the 13th, on Why Restaurant Value Shouldn’t Be Based on Price, is here. The 14th, on The Case for Hyper-Focused Menus, is here. The 15th, This is How Your Restaurant Will Survive Beyond 3 Years, is here. The 16th, on The Difference Between a Restaurant Coach and Consultant, is here. And the 17th, What is a Restaurant Tech Stack, and How Do You Know if You Built the Right One? is here.

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