The life of working in the food/beverage scene can be very demanding and taxing at times. Stressful situations, long hours, and the time those hours are worked (weekends/nights) all contribute to these demands and begin to tax relationships. These stressors increase when one is managing daily operations of the business. Duties include: ordering product for the restaurant/bar, managing staff to deliver an experience to patrons so they cannot wait to come back, and running a profitable establishment for the owner. Management is critiqued on these three duties and will not keep their employment if these expectations are not met. When thinking about running multi-million dollar businesses and living up to these expectations, one can ask how do you do it? This blog will discuss the agentic perspective of social cognitive theory and apply it to real life experience in the workplace.
Management in a restaurant for any business for that matter requires an individual to become familiar with these different agents of social cognitive theory. By increasing knowledge of these three agents described by Bandura, it will make for a better workplace and increase productivity. The reason I opened with this type of management because it if an individual hones these three agents then the stress level of the job will decrease and work will become easier. The three agents are direct personal agency, proxy agency, and collective agency.
In personal agency exercised individually, people bring their influence to bear directly on themselves and their environment in managing their lives. Under these circumstances, they seek their well-being and valued outcomes through the exercise of proxy agency. In this socially mediated mode of agency, people try to get those who have access to resources, expertise or who wield influence and power to act at their behest to secure the outcomes they desire. People do not live their lives autonomously. Many of the things they seek are achievable only through socially interdependent effort. Hence, they have to pool their knowledge, skills, and resources, provide mutual support, form alliances, and work together to secure what they cannot accomplish on their own (Bandura 270)
When applying this to the management of a restaurant, personal agency deals with the performance of the manager alone. The proxy agent deals with the performance of the staff to achieve desired needs of the management and restaurant as a whole. Finally the collective agent is both management and staff working together to achieve the goals of the restaurant. To run the restaurant on an efficient level one must blend the three of these agents to get the best possible outcomes. When thinking about personal agency the management needs to be doing a lot of behind the scenes work to make a smooth transition for the proxy agent to work. Proper ordering procedures keep the restaurant stocked with the products being sold day to day. Having the restaurant/bar stocked sends non-verbal messages to staff about the running of the business. If the management team runs out of product on a regular basis it sends the message that the management is not doing their job so why do I? Proper training procedure also a direct personal agent that will affect the proxy agent and ultimately relate to the collective agent. If the time and money is spent on training for the restaurant, then the employee will be doing everything that is required to run effective service day to day. When dealing with the proxy agent in the restaurant world the hourly employees are the ones performing the “work” in the establishment. The relationship between management and hourly employee is proxy because the manager is using the employee for work to secure the outcomes they desire, which would be proper service for the guest. The collective agent perspective deals with both management and hourly employee to work in harmony to deliver the best experience possible so that the guest comes back for repeated business.
Restaurant/Bar work was used to explain the 3 agents dealing with social cognitive theory. However this can be applied to any work setting, or social interaction. My work experience before grad school was in this business, which is why I could relate and connect these agents to real-life experience. In any career that I get into after school it is important that I remember these agents while communicating with myself, upper management, and the employees that are working under me. The better I perform these agents the more efficient tasks will be performed. I challenge any of my readers to take a look back at their work history and think about how these three agents applied to the job. I look forward to hearing about your experiences with these 3 agents in your former employment!
Bandura, Albert *2002 APPLIED PSYCHOLOGY: AN INTERNATIONAL REVIEW
Social Cognitive Theory in Cultural Context, 51 (2), 269–290