How (not) to lead a winning bar team

28 September 2022

How not to
The five-person team at Gothenburg’s Bar Bruno is helmed by Josefin Thorén, voted best bartender at the Stellagala 2021 – among a swag of other accolades. We sat with the award winning bar's pink-maned industry icon to learn the tricks of the trade when it comes to leading a successful bar team.
Don't... tell someone how to do the job

What would I do if I wanted to be a bad leader? I would tell people how to do everything exactly instead of letting them find their own wings.

Remember the value of positive feedback

It's sometimes easy to forget the positive feedback and only focus on stuff that goes wrong. There's no reason ever to tell someone off or to criticise anyone because that usually doesn't lead to anything; it only pricks their confidence. It's better to give positive feedback and lift the good qualities instead. For example, if you tell someone that they are really good at hosting and welcoming people, then they are going to grow more confidence and within that, they are going to focus even more on that and become even better. They don't want to let you down when you've given them that good feedback.

Find what makes them happy

It's very important to look after what your team wants as well. You may have a vision for what you want to do, but you have to include the team and make sure you look after what their goals are. We have meetings every fortnight. And in those meetings, I take the staff aside and talk to them one-on-one. I ask them and learn more about what they want to do and what makes them happy. Everyone has different areas they like; I try to find those areas and let them explore within that area.

Hire for attitude, not talent

Walking in off the street, it's hard to see if someone has talent, but what I value in my team is the hosting part. We focus a lot on the service and welcoming our guests and I find that if you have a good attitude and/or are a welcoming person, then everything else is just going to come naturally. You can teach someone how to make cocktails, but you can't teach someone how to be happy and have the right mindset.

Let go of the reins!

It's always hard to let go of the reins, but it's very important to delegate. You have to just do it once, and after you've done it the first time it's going to be easier. And if you don't delegate, your staff is never going to take on responsibility because they will always feel like you don't trust them enough. You have to put your ego aside and put all your trust in your staff. And when you do, they are going to just grow and be… you're gonna love that!


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