Are They Worth It?

I’ve managed people for a long time.  As a manager for Dick’s Sporting Goods, and as a chef I’ve had to make a career out of assessing talent and contributions vs. the wanting to keep or fire certain individuals on staff.  The final question we need to ask when deciding to either keep or dismiss an employee is “are they worth the trouble of keeping?”  If so, make sure you’re committed to putting in the work to fix any problems with that worker, if not, then let them go without hesitation.

I was listening to sports talk radio recently and the Odell Beckham Jr. trade to the Cleveland Browns was the focus of the discussion.  He was seen by some, including the Giant’s management, as a distraction because of his antics, his behavior on the sidelines, and his perceived disruptive nature.  One contributor to the talk defended OBJ and criticized the Giants explaining that an organization needs to weight out the pros and cons of an individual before deciding that he needs to be removed from the team.  Since I eat, sleep, and dream about work, I thought about how this rule relates to restaurants.

Having a good attitude, being reliable, and being good at your job is a no-brainer.  These people however seem to becoming less available.

How about the guy who shows up every single day, never requests time off, but despite being pretty good at his job, hardly ever does anything beyond the minimum required to maintain their position?  We need those without ambition to fill jobs in a consistent and daily basis without question.  Keep them and seek out others with ambition to train, develop, and advance.  Have peace of mind that the first guy is going to show up and keep a station covered. One less thing to worry about.

What if your chef is great, but is too hard on the staff, creating a scenario that causes servers to either quit or become poor employees?  If you’re unwilling to correct the reasons, she might be unhappy with the staff, the let her go, the problem will never be fixed and it’s time to move on and find a chef with lower standards. You’ll be happy because you do not have to address the underlying issue with training, the service staff will be happy, and the atmosphere will be more pleasant.

What if we invest in our people and they end up leaving?  What if we don’t and they end up staying?

We really need to take more interest in the people who work for us and attempt to show a reasonable amount of empathy for a situation they may not be able to control.

How about the great server who coworkers and customers like, but refuses to learn anything about the menu?  Depends? Are they required to learn the menu?

The guy who’s 10 minutes late every shift, but does a good job?  How about the one who is 10 minutes late every day and does a mediocre job?

My Siena College cross country coach said, “you’re fair by treating everyone differently.”

How about a server who’s so bad that his work reflects on and affects the work of others?  Incorrectly sending orders to the kitchen can spoil the cook’s ability to do their jobs properly. Failing to finish your side work or set up the night before can leave work for others, not allowing them to do other things. If being bad at your job makes others be bad at their job, then it’s time to find another line of work.

If a cook fails to do the necessary prep work on Tuesday then the cook working that station on Wednesday may have a tough time being ready for service on Wednesday.

If a quarterback is no longer effective, then a receiver may not be able to perform up to his potential and can get frustrated.

Great service can make the food better, bad service will make for a more critical diner.  Bad food and poor kitchen performance can make the server’s job more difficult.  Find out which one is doing a good job and build your restaurant around them.

The Giants have decided that OBJ is not someone to build the next season around.  The ineffective quarterback is their choice, and they’re entitled to that choice.  The empty seats may tell them something in 2019.

Servers, if it takes 10 minutes for the food to go from the pass to the correct table then it’s going to result in cold food.

A server should never tell a customer that their errors are the fault of the kitchen.  Cooks are trained to have good memories.

OBJ may or not be likable, but his so-called antics are worth having his talent on the team, unlike the antics of some players who break the law, have domestic violence issues, and drug problems.  His behavior is mostly born out of passion for the game and a desire to compete, perform well, and win.

If your team members are performing their jobs well, or at worst, adequately and are otherwise good employees then keep them, train them, and invest in them.  Overlook their poor qualities if it does not disrupt the performance of the restaurant.   If they’re typically late, complain, call off often, AND, are not good performers then move on, they’re not worth it.

The Cleveland Browns will find that Odell Beckham is worth it.


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