Archive | February, 2009

Are They Your Best Employees?

28 Feb

Recently, a collegue recounted an experience she had working at another store. She said that the crew ran the store, not the management. I asked her what the GM thought about that, and she told me that the GM let the workers do it, and wouldn’t hear anyone telling her that this is wrong.

The two crew people in question, according to my collegue, took full advantage of the situation. They didn’t do the things that they were supposed to, such as cleaning up after themselves. They made fun of the other employees. They generally acted as if they were over and above the law.

The GM’s excuse: “They’re my best employees. They make the food really fast and deliever it on time.”

The problem with this sort of attitude on the part of management is that she is creating an environment that is hostile to the other employees. By endowing these two “best workers” with impunity, she is sending two destructive messages. The first is that this sort of behavior is tolerable. The second is that other employees aren’t as valuable as these two.

If the two “best workers” have major attitude problems that no one is bothering to adjust, it sends a message to the other employees that this is the sort of model behavior that management is looking for. That means that other employees, seeking positive recognition, will start to emulate that behavior and then you will have more than just two employees who behave unmanageably.

In the cases where the two “best workers” are favored above other employees, this will foster an attitude of indifference on the part of the other employees. “If they don’t have to clean up their station, why should I?” Start holding these two accountable, the others will see that, too. But it doesn’t sound as if, in this store, that these two will ever be held accountable.

Have I just described your store? Are you holding on to employees that you’d be better off letting go?

How would a subordinate manager handle this situation? With careful documentation. The subordinate needs to hold these two employees accountable and discipline them when they do things that are wrong. If the GM won’t allow the discipline, then copies should be forwarded to the GM’s boss with an explanation of the GM’s behavior.

If the GM’s boss won’t do anything, then it may be time to contact Human Resources. HR should be able to help out in this situation.

Bottom line: Employees like this need to fall in line with the rest of the crew, or they need to go. All too often in fast food, speed is valued above simple respect. Someone who has speed is immune to prosecution and may do as he or she likes in the store. This is destructive for morale and hurts the store’s performance in the long run. It also undermines the authority of the management and sends the message that such behavior is tolerated, even preferable.