All trades have tools. If I ask you to name your favorite tools, whatever came to mind would likely be dependent upon what you have been exposed to or have used yourself.
My Grandmother would have said, “Needle and thread” because she loved to sew, and my Grandfather, “Hammer, saw, pliers”; first things first, for a garage tinker. My Mother would’ve cheerily replied, “Shovel, spade, rake” as she was a gardener. I have friends who would eagerly and separately say “microscope… compressor… scalpel… front-end loader.”
As a trainer of managers, I became partial to the quote by Abraham Maslow, “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.” I’m also a storyteller as I use examples of the use of proper tools in my leadager workshops, providing emphasis on how to get your best work done. I have a professional motto which is “LIFT” – the act of raising things to a higher level, so you can see where I might use a figurative ladder – now and again.
If I asked you to name the top tools utilized by a manager, what comes to mind? It may seem unobvious, but somewhere on everybody’s manager tool list are keys. Keys help a manager do their job, but they are also the subliminal reinforcement of positional authority. The manager is the key-holder and has the ability to lock and unlock access, both figuratively and literally.
Most of the time a manager is expected to utilize their mind, as well as their body, communication skills, policies, procedures, systems, expertise, flexibility, and good judgment — the stock in trade of a manager. As you gain responsibility you are expected to do and remember more, widening the chances for mistakes and missteps.
There is an important tool that is widely used in professions where mistakes could have life and death consequences. It’s called a check-list. NASA uses a check-list before any space launch, pilots use a check-list before taking off, and parachutists absolutely use a check-list when they pack their gear. However, not all managers/operators use check-lists.
Some managers flat-out refuse to use a check-list, “I got it all right up here, bub!” And some only reluctantly, even begrudgingly partake in the use of check-lists. There is no debate that restaurants/hospitality operations have a lot of moving parts and most are traveling at a darned fast pace. If a check-list can help astronauts sitting alone in a cramped space without many distractions, as they prepare to risk their lives, don’t you think it might help you with your multi-tasking?
Yep, a check-list can be a historical record, a procedural, communication or training tool and even a lifesaver. If you are not currently leveraging a check-list system to your full advantage, then it might be time to add one to your manager tool kit.
One word of caution: a check-list is a tool used to improve the performance of a business, but you will never be able to check-list a team member’s performance over a mountain or to the moon. That requires leadership and that’s a whole ‘nuther conversation.
Chase LeBlanc, Guest BloggerChase LeBlanc is The CEO of Leadagers LLC and author of High Impact Hospitality, Upgrade Your Purpose, Performance and Profits! He is also a consultant, coach, speaker and trainer for leaders and managers in retail and restaurants.
Click to Chase – If Your Team Needs a Spark or a Sonic Boom!