10 Traits of a Bad Restaurant Manager | Edizeven Blog (2023)

Everyone will experience leadership within their lifetime. This also means we will deal with great managers who will lead the group to success and bad restaurant managers who will lead the group to failure. Great restaurant managers are few and far between. This is a list of 10 bad restaurant manager traits that I’ve found, through my personal experience, to be important and critical to consider on your next hunt for a restaurant job or at your current restaurant.


1Doesn’t take responsibility

2Relies on employees to solve issues

3Lack of work culture

4Lack of structure

5Neglecting employee growth

6Lack of respect for employees

7Not putting employees first

8Ordering vs. Inspiring

9Not listening to employees. The Know-It-All.

10Doesn’t practice what they preach


Doesn’t take responsibility

Regardless of whether you’re a CEO, professor, or restaurant manager, no one wants to deal with someone who isn’t willing to take responsibility for their actions. Taking ownership and responsibility for one’s actions is a key trait for a great leader. Someone who’s dodging responsibility and pointing the finger at someone else is a sign of someone who isn’t competent in addressing the issue.

For instance, the owner at the first restaurant I’ve worked for refused to take responsibility for not properly training his employees. Rather than helping each employee properly learn all the duties, he would passive-aggressively lower your scheduled hours and let you figure out what you’ve done wrong.

Relies on employees to solve issues

It is expected for employees to be able to be flexible and solve issues, as they arise. However, it should not be expected for employees to solve every problem. It is the manager’s responsibility to be the support network for the employee, in order for them to maximize their success and flow of the restaurant.

Often enough, at the same restaurant, I’ve had to deal with solving most issues on the fly. We often cycled through the questions and experimented on how much to prep and what to prep on a regular basis until we’ve figured out the general checklist. Managers should establish a foundation of knowledge for employees to work on, it shouldn’t be their responsibility to figure it out like a puzzle especially for newbies joining as restaurant staff.

Lack of work culture

Work culture is one of the biggest differences that separate a good and bad restaurant manager. The work climate defines the standards and beliefs of the restaurant, manager, and employees. A restaurant with undefined standards and rules is a telling sign it is run by a bad manager.

Working in a restaurant that lacks a work culture is a big sign the managers don’t understand the needs of the employees. The work culture should closely align with the goals of the restaurant and policies while keeping in mind the best interest of the employees. I’ve worked at a restaurant where the manager struggled to know the names of every employee, let alone those who’ve been there for over a year. Many of the rules and support networks didn’t support the employees for success such as not having an established group chat, ensuring breaks for every employee, and reasonable workloads. There was a time where I often found myself not taking breaks or finding breaks counterintuitive because there wasn’t a system in place to ensure every station would be adequately covered.

There generally aren’t enough perks in a restaurant job, but want makes it worthwhile is a great culture, respect all around, having lunch together, hearing employees out. If a restaurant manager cannot even offer that – then what’s the point of being there at all.

Lack of structure

It is common for new employees to not know how to best manage their time at work, but it is a glaring issue if employees who’ve been there for a month, six months, or even a year struggle to figure out what to do. It is the manager’s responsibility to define what should be done, what should be prioritized, and how to help out your peers.

Neglecting employee growth

“The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.”

– Harvey Firestone

Great managers care about the growth of their employees, both professionally and personally. They genuinely care about their passions and support them. Bad managers only care about the job getting done. They don’t put much thought into building a relationship with their employees, their goals, and their growth.

I’ve once had a manager choose to be employed and taking the set time they’ve scheduled off to study for their college exams. This ludicrous situation was one of many that led a lot of the employees, including myself, to leave the restaurant.

Lack of respect for employees

Managers who don’t trust, communicate, and/or value your time are signs of a manager that doesn’t respect you. If they are always over your shoulder to make sure you’re doing the job right, don’t communicate with you when an item is 86’ed or there have been menu changes, and/or don’t respect the days you have scheduled off, you’re dealing with a bad restaurant manager.

At an employee banquet, the owner of the restaurant said within his speech, “all of you are disposable”. It created a bit of an awkward environment since the banquet was created to ironically appreciate the value of every employee. For many, it spoke volumes on the true feelings of the owner. There were seen as an expense rather than an individual.

Not putting employees first

Managers should always put their employees first, after all, they are the foundation and backbone of the business. The concerns, desires, and needs of the employees should be a top priority for a manager. If they are putting their needs above yours, they are not a good manager.

Ordering vs. Inspiring

Restaurant managers who have to order you to do something vs. making you want to do it and go above and beyond is a sign between a good vs. bad manager. If your manager has to order everyone and force them to do the tasks at hand, this is a sign of a bad manager. Good managers should inspire their employees to push themselves and their peers to be their best every day.

An owner at one of the many restaurants I’ve worked at often demanded respect through intimidation and ordering you to complete tasks as fast as possible, rather than as efficient as possible. He was highly disliked for his condescending and belittling method of communication. He would often yell at employees and disrespect their intelligence for not doing it the way he wants.

Not listening to employees. The Know-It-All.

“Employees are the key to your success with customers. Treat them well!”

Ron Kaufman

As stated earlier, employees are the foundation of any business. A manager who doesn’t listen to their employees and acknowledge their input is bound to fail. If you’re dealing with a manager who doesn’t listen or selectively listens to the input of a few individuals, it is a sign of a bad manager.

Doesn’t practice what they preach

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.”

– Aristotle

Great managers practice what they preach, bad managers don’t walk the talk. If you’re dealing with a manager who isn’t meeting the standards they’ve set for their employees, this is a trait of a bad manager. They lack passion, discipline, and care for the employees, work culture, and success of the business.


There are endless traits of a toxic, bad restaurant manager, but this is a list that I’ve found to be the most important and glaring traits of a bad restaurant manager.

To recap, 10 traits of a bad restaurant manager:

  1. Doesn’t take responsibility
  2. Relies on employees to solve issues
  3. Lack of work culture
  4. Lack of structure
  5. Neglecting employee growth
  6. Lack of respect for employees
  7. Not putting employees first
  8. Ordering vs. Inspiring
  9. Not listening to employees. The Know-It-All.
  10. Doesn’t walk the talk

Are you dealing with a manager with some of these traits? If so, you’re likely dealing with a bad manager. Hopefully, this blog has helped you grasp a better understanding of whether you’re dealing with a bad manager. You definitely deserve better and should be in a work environment that empowers, motivates, and inspires you every day. Through Edizeven, we can help you find a restaurant job that best fits your needs.


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