5 Tips for Choosing the Schedule Manager for Your Restaurant

She who writes the schedule holds enormous power in your restaurant. 

Schedule management is an onerous task that requires a specific mix of effort, empathy, discipline and thick skin -- not necessarily in that order. Too often that responsibility is given lightly and without sufficient consideration. 

In many instances, it’s a job assigned based on a training track. While every manager should know how to write schedules before they can move forward in their career, not every manager is actually capable of the task. 

You should conduct an analysis of whoever you assign scheduling to. You should know their strengths and where they may stumble. We’ve outlined five considerations before naming a schedule manager.

Is the person disciplined?

Sure, discipline is a good characteristic for any manager and should be applied to all of their tasks. However, when it comes to the schedule, there are so many moving parts. Someone who falls even a little short can completely disrupt your operation and burn your staff out. Whether it is managing days off requests or availability, not exhibiting discipline can be disastrous. 

The good news is that digital scheduling makes this much easier, but it doesn’t eliminate the need for that discipline.

It starts by posting the schedule on time. Schedules are about deadlines. Your entire staff plans their lives around it. Late schedules will translate into real problems for your staff and your restaurant. 

How can you ensure staff arrive on time if the schedules are posted late? Late schedules demonstrates that timeliness isn’t all that important. Equally important, late schedules wreak havoc with your staff’s lives. Not allowing your team the time to plan or to have expectations will lead to dissatisfied people -- and that leads to costly turnover. 

Do they know your team?

This is a nuance, but as you will learn, knowing your team is a crucial aspect of successful schedule writing. One exercise is to have each of your managers grade your staff (A, B, C) and compare their insight to yours. If they don’t agree, challenge them to convince you why a team member is not who you believe them to be. 

This will both instruct them in how to professionally evaluate staff performance, but will also ensure you that they know your team. This may reveal the person is well versed in the staff strengths and weaknesses. 

However, it may also show the manager to have terrible bias issues that could cause real problems, which leads to our next qualification.

Are they fair minded?

As long as we have human beings working in our restaurants, there will be bias issues. This can be a serious problem if your scheduling manager can’t separate themself from the biases they bring to your building. 

So often, the schedule is used as a method for punishing employees or as a way to give favors to staff that the scheduling manager prefers. If you want peace in your building, you need to assess the power of the schedulers biases and regularly follow up to ensure they remain fair. The schedule is not the place to be reactive. 

In fact, schedules by their nature are a proactive approach to managing the business. Holding the scheduler to a standard of fairness will send the message to your team that performance matters -- not who’s the manager’s favorite.

Do they understand the numbers?

Every schedule you post is a mini-budget. They allocate labor based on projections and how you want to spend your revenue. 

Again, here is a place where digital schedules help enormously. They build in labor cost calculations in real time and accommodate sales projections, which greatly facilitate the task. That being said, your scheduler still needs a full understanding of how those numbers impact your budget. 

Are they regularly over on daily labor results? If so, they are not demonstrating they understand the importance of managing labor or disciplined enough to achieve the desired labor results. It means they likely aren’t ready to the write the schedule.

How do they handle power?

There is no greater power for a manager than writing the schedule. 

Therefore, you have to consider how your scheduler will respond to that power. Observe how they interact with the people they have influence over. Are they rude to vendors? Do they speak condescendingly to staff? These and other behaviors are signals they aren’t mature enough to take over the most influential task in your business. 

Scheduling can also be a humbling experience that gives the most power-driven manager perspective. Either way, knowing in advance the character of your scheduler ensures you won’t be surprised by how they respond to their new found power.

Of course, you don’t always have the flexibility to be thorough in choosing your scheduler. 

You can, however, use these questions to analyze their performance and give them feedback that will improve their performance. 

In the end, you cannot minimize the influence and impact that scheduling has on your operation. Be disciplined and thorough as you manage the person that is managing your schedule.