The time of your career when you are becoming a mentor of other new bartenders happens without you really noticing it. It happens before you get titles such as head bartender, bar director, bar manager or whatever other fancy name you decide to use. Indeed it happens everyday.
When you realize of your new role is usually a happy and proud moment. I want to share some thoughts about this role that you will end up applying every day.
First of all you need to keep in mind that without helping each other there are very few chances that we would have prominent careers. (You probably remember these movie scene “help me help you” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGt5f70K02Q)
There is always something new to learn (or to remember) regardless of our career span. New professionals can teach us something as well. Be humble, show and share your passion.
If you are in charge of a group, the best thing you can do is to simplify your team members work, in doing so they’ll simplify yours. Be a nexus between them and directors so they know they are doing what is expected from them. When you are congratulated for something, let them know since they are your team. Recognize and stimulate efforts, help them grow in their career.
What about when you see something you don’t like? Try to communicate it in a way that something good comes out of the situation, a new perspective, a lesson, something that expands the analytical skills of who is being corrected. Raise the training level and self-confidence and lower the ego. Criticism can have a high impact in someone’s career, try it to be positive and useful.
Something I like is to have a set of principles on how to run my bar, rather than rules and policies. Rules and policies are either accomplished or not, they create a potential frame for punishment. I don’t believe in punishment as a way to create team spirit, trust, and professionals. Common sense guides, and stating the obvious even in an informal chat pays off.
What about when dealing with guests? Here you have to set the standards and example. Treat them as equal regarding of who do you think they are, there is no guest more important than other one. They’ve decided to spend some time of their lives going to your place. That is a big honor!
Leading by example:
When dealing with money, here you have to set ethical standards. Your money is your salary and your tips, money that should go in the till it is not yours. Do not steal or novice bartenders will take it as an industry standard, spreading all over and affecting the whole industry with that behavior.
Don’t cheat on guests. If you do, novice bartender will.
If there is time to rest, there is time to clean up, organize, study something, and think about how to improve our bar. Do something beneficial while you’re working.
Be impeccable with your word. Communicate clearly, ask questions, give answers, recognize what you don’t know.
Always do your best, be present.
And finally, relax and Enjoy, even when you are rushing and cranking out cocktails like an octopus, keep your mind under control, breath, smile, have a laugh. Everybody in your place (guests and coworkers) is there because they like having a good time, they are part of the hospitality and entertainment industry….if not guest would have stayed at their office and you could get a job selling tickets at the train station. Not much fun isn’t it?
Learn all the technical aspects of your trade, as Harry Johnson put it in one of my favorite quotes, “I try to impress on every bartender’s mind that he should study his business a much as possible, in every way, so that he be entitled to the highest salary paid; for I do not believe in cheap bartenders…cheap men, as a rule, are worthless” (Harry Johnson, bartenders manual, 1882, page 24)