If you’re curious about how to develop your career from working as a waiter or waitress all the way to a general manager, here’s the career path from the bottom of the totem pole to management.
As you move through all of these positions, you’ll gain the skills and experience necessary to prepare yourself to become a general manager. While starting at entry level can be difficult, the best managers know and understand every asset of their restaurant, including how the meals get made to how the guests are seated. Plus, general managers are often tasked with jumping into various roles everything from prepping to bartending on busy nights.
The best general managers become one by truly knowing how to do it all.
Many general manager Career Paths Start at the Entry Level.
Depending on whether you start out in the front of the house or back of the house, you’ll either start in a host or server position, or a prep cook or dishwasher position. In these positions, you’ll gain perspective into how the foundational elements of a restaurant work. Serving, for example, gives deep insight into the guest experience, while dishwashing allows you to be present in the kitchen and a part of the food preparation process.
Also, these positions lay the groundwork for understanding one of the most critical elements in a restaurant: team dynamics. The front of house and back of house teams have to find ways to work together, and the various positions have to work in harmony to keep processes flowing and customers happy. Starting out at these entry-level positions is where managers get their first chance to learn how the establishments work.
A general manager position might seem like the job is easy and straightforward from the outside, but there’s more to it than meets the eye.
The Next Step on the General Manager Career Ladder is Mid-Level: Bar or Service Manager
Once you have mastered the basics of what makes a restaurant tick, the next step is a mid-level position that begins to build management foundations. The responsibility increases here as you’re tasked with managing small teams, organising schedules, and opening and closing the establishment. In this position you will still be in touch with the lower levels of a restaurant, but begin to learn how to orchestrate the higher up requirements at the same time.
The General Manager Career Path Continues onto Low-Level Management: Assistant General Manager
The next step up on your journey to a general manager is assistant manager, which is where most people make the switch from hourly to salaried employees, and benefits become part of the discussion. However, this is often the most challenging step on the way to the ultimate goal because the hours can be brutal and the level of responsibility can be daunting.
Finally, the Goal is reached: General Management
General management or ownership is the terminal position in most individual restaurants, although in larger companies and brands you can climb much higher and move into a role like regional manager, area manager, ops manager and more.. At this level, all of the responsibility is on you—you’re in charge of everything from business decisions to the entire staff and everything in between. After years of hard work, you’re finally running the show when you get to one of these positions.