How Do You Do IT?


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!


               Social Cognitive Theory in Cultural Context, 51 (2), 269–290


3 thoughts on “How Do You Do IT?

  1. Reblogged this on Technology of Communication and commented:

    It is interesting that you chose to open this blog with a discussion about restaurants and management. It certainly makes for a great example and an even better comparison to what we are learning about. I say that because I think that everyone, or at least the vast majority of people at some point in their life, has worked in the restaurant industry. If they haven’t, I would strongly encourage them to do so. It is easy to walk into a restaurant, sit down for dinner and get all bent out of shape because your drinks took too long and your appetizer isn’t as hot as you would like for it to be. It is interesting to see things from someone else’s prospective. When you actually work in the restaurant industry, you discover all of those things your server really has no control over but is expected to manage anyways. The restaurant industry is a world of its own. As you mentioned, working in a restaurant is extremely taxing. The hours are crucial and the work is certainly no easy task. Working in a restaurant is a very high demanding job. Not only are you under tight time restrictions, you have no choice but to multitask and to look like you are the happiest most excited person to be doing what you are doing. That’s what you will do if you want to walk away with descent tips anyways. Whether an individual has worked as a line cook, bartender, host/hostess or even a server, there is no doubt that this line of work takes a toll on ones self both mentally and physically. There are a hundred things going on at once and you better be able to balance all of them or everything will come crashing down in a matter of seconds. As you previously discussed, the three agents in social cognitive theory are personal agency, proxy agency and collective agency. Social cognitive theory is all about an individual’s knowledge and how we are able to relate that knowledge through observations, experiences, social interstation’s and even experiences through the media. Albert Bandura believes that personal agency operates through is a network of social structure influences. Bandura discusses how people are not only products but also producers of socials systems. Albert Bandura beliefs that human behavior is conditioned and regulated by environmental stimuli. Personally, I think this makes perfect sense and I agree with his theory. I think people behave the way they do due to their surroundings.

    (I worked at a sports bar known as Champs through my undergrad. This was one of the highest stress jobs I have ever had. When I first started work there, veteran employees would refer to their bad, work related dreams as champs-mares. It was only about two weeks before I had those dreams myself (Terrible right?))

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think you’re on point about a manager needing to be familiar with these agents of the Social Cognitive Theory. I used to work in the food industry, and the manager I had was on a completely different level than her employees. Instead of working together to achieve the goals of the restaurant, she was all about making sure she was happy and gave little thought to her staff. This resulted in a high turnover rate, and lots of hard feelings between herself and the other employees. If she had worked towards creating a harmonious environment that met the needs of, not only herself, but the staff and the customers, the restaurant would have operated on a smoother basis.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I thought you made several excellent points with relating Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory to a restaurant atmosphere and the management. I worked at a highly successful restaurant throughout the summers of my undergraduate schooling. Therefore, I can really relate to what you explained about the personal, proxy, and collective agencies of the management staff.
    The restaurant I worked for over the summers was a family owned business and is the best restaurant in town. The management was fun, worked hard, and very professional and treated the employees right. A restaurant atmosphere can be very stressful for all employees making it that much more important for the management to work well within all agents of personal, proxy, and collective. Accomplishing all three agencies will determine the success of the restaurant and the quality of employees that are working within the restaurant. The management of the restaurant that I worked at over the course of several summers did a great job working and functioning in all three categories. They worked hard personally, communicate and prepared the staff well, and collectively the restaurant is very successful and the best place to eat in town. Several servers and other employees have been working there over twenty years. That alone can explain what kind of atmosphere the owners and management have built. Great post!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s