Chef Ramsay as a model manager?

I was watching Kitchen Nightmares where Chef Gordon Ramsay verbally attacks restaurant owners in order to point out the areas where they lack.

I used to think he was just another arrogant character on TV but there was a turning point in that episode. The owner was berating everyone around him and causing so much stress that his customers noticed and his business was failing. People from the Chef to the Hostess noticed the problems but they didn’t try to fix the core issue.

This owner was a good enough chef to start a successful restaurant and then use that to open a second one in a beautiful space.

The owner had two choices, on the first night he took plan ‘A’. Rely on his staff and make token changes to help them. That failed. The second night plan ‘B’ went into effect. He rolled up his sleeves and picked up a pan. This second plan went much better and they had a successful night.

In my experience I’ve seen too many people (specially engineers, but not exclusively so) that are absolute rock stars as an individual contributors, get promoted, and then can’t succeed in the new role. When Gordon Ramsay’s brutal approach shocked this restaurateur into getting back to basics.

The lesson here is twofold. First off managing is a different skill, secondly sometimes managers need to be hands on.

In the corporate world when something is not working we are taught to ‘escalate’ the issue. This escalation will usually cause a flurry of emails from upper management chastising people to “do more better”. Fortunately in the case of a better manager an email will come down asking how can I help. People generally want to do good work, and our job is to help that to happen. Rarely does yelling (or all CAPS email) work.

And on that note I’ve got to go help my daughter make shrinky-dinks.

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