Are Your Restaurant Employees Doing More Harm than Good

Have you ever had that feeling in the pit of your stomach that something is absolutely wrong with one of your employees? Like they're doing more harm than good to your business even when, and especially when, you think they're one of your best. If you can relate, then your gut is trying to tell you something and it’s usually right. Unfortunately, most of us don’t trust our inner voice enough to listen. What are some of the key indicators that you should be looking for to tell you you're keeping a team member on longer than they should be? I'm going to share that with you in just a moment.

Often the team members who you think are your best employees are often the ones holding your restaurant back. What do I mean?

Let’s look at what I call the dependable line employee. This is a team member who shows up every shift, fills in a shift when asked and has worked for you for years. They’ve proven themselves to be dependable through thick and thin. You feel like this person's got your back. Yet, there are problems, such as they:

  • Don't consistently do their side work.
  • Don't like change and fight it.
  • Remind you of the times you tried to change and it didn’t work.
  • Make newer employees feel like they don't belong and create a divide between the old timers and the new kids.
  • Have outlasted every manager that's worked there so they’re not cooperative for new managers.

Yet you’re stuck in this rut thinking this is one of your long-term employees you can always count on them to show up and work, even if it’s not done your way.

Another example is what I call the restaurant management saboteur. This person's difficult to see because when you tell them about all the things you want to do, this manager says yes to everything. You suggestion inventory systems, and they’re enthusiastic. Same with ideas about scheduling labor on budget. They’re all excitement and yeses, but they don't ever take action. You get frustrated and when you push them on it, they have an excuse for everything: well, it got busy; we're short a couple of people; excuse after excuse.

The problem is you buy into it while they’re talking behind your back. You hear the whispers, but the saboteur never breaks in front of you.

Both employees are destroying your business. The dependable employee is creating a negative work environment of favoritism. They know they can get away with anything and everything they want to do or not want to do. Management will never push them out. They are there. They put you in a position where the tail wags the dog and everybody sees it. This leaves newer employees feeling put out, demotivated, and they start modeling similar behavior because there aren’t any consequences.

That restaurant management saboteur is costing you tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of dollars in your bottom-line profitability every single year by not making the changes you decided your restaurant needs. They usually treat a select few employees as their favorites and treat the rest like crap, often talking bad about them and creating a hostile environment. They’re not using the systems designed to save you money and offer a consistent experience for your guests. They’re hurting your business.

These two type of employees also cost you valuable time. They're also making you feel like you're the only one who can do the job because you keep giving it up and not getting results back, making you literally a prisoner of your business.

How do you avoid this? Here are the key indicators that you have a bad team member or manager.

  1. They're difficult to manage. If that employee or that manager is difficult to manage on any level and it feels like they're chewing up 80 percent of your mental power on running your business, that’s a sure sign of trouble. If it’s endlessly challenging to manage them or to get them to do the work you’ve asked them to do, you probably need to help them move on from your restaurant.
  2. They have unlimited excuses. I teach my members you might as well have your managers or your employees tell you it was locusts. “I was late to work because a swarm of locusts choked up my car and it died.” “Oh, I would have gotten those recipe costing cards but locusts grabbed my computer and flew away with it, so I couldn't do my work.” “It was locusts’ fault that I didn't do my side work. They were swarming and all I could do was fall behind. I had to leave.” It doesn't matter the excuse, it matters that they’re offering up excuses at all.
  3. They don’t think the rules apply to them. These people often think the rules apply to everybody else and not them. These special team members and special managers get away with murder, creating a negative work environment.
  4. They tend to cause drama. If you’re constantly searching for solutions to complaints about an employee and nobody wants to work with them because all they do is bitch and moan, you’ve got a drama problem.
  5. If you wouldn’t hire them again if you knew what you know now. Ask yourself if you would hire this employee again knowing what you now know, not what you thought you saw in them, but what they’ve actually shown you. If the answer is no, it is pretty clear they’re doing more harm than good.

This is a big challenge in times of a labor shortage. Restaurants are always struggling to fill the kitchen and letting someone go means someone has to fill those hours and it will probably be you. But I'm going to tell you right now I would rather run short-staffed than have the wrong people on my team.

As the leader of your business, you have to move the business forward, not stay stagnant or stand still. Keeping restaurant employees who do more harm than good prevents you from doing that job.

If you would like to learn how to own a restaurant that doesn't depend on you being in it to be successful, sign up for my free video course that teaches you three key principles to running a successful restaurant. If you're ready right now to make some serious changes in your restaurant, you can also book a 60-minute call with me where we talk about your challenges and figure out exactly what is holding you back from having a restaurant that doesn’t depend on you being in it to be successful. 

Be sure to visit my YouTube channel for more helpful restaurant management video tips.

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Create Freedom from Your Restaurant