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Working around one person's schedule

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

The title says it all.  I have a line cook who has been with us for several years and because he is the only person who a) doesn't have a car and b) has both a wife and kids, gets some preferential scheduling.  Meaning:  He basically gets the coveted 9-5 Monday thru Friday to be able to make his family life work.  The problem is, I often find myself having to schedule less seasoned cooks on the weekends or evenings instead of the people I NEED to have on staff.  I've had him work a couple random Saturdays here and there but I always find myself accommodating his needs instead of doing what's right for my kitchen.  I even had to change his shift from 8 to 8:30 because he was consistently late due to walking his children to school.

 

I'm a compassionate person, but it seems unfair for my entire staff to be on the receiving end of this all of the time.  My gut is telling me I need to ask for more flexibility from him, but the reasons why he can't are always the family.  As a relatively new manager, I'm not sure how to push the family thing aside and say "I know you need to spend time with your family but my operation is suffering from this preferential treatment."  (Did I just ask and answer that question?)  My staff is pretty tight and turnover is low so if he decides to walk, I'm left in a pretty tight position.  On the other hand, I can't let myself be held hostage by those conditions alone.

post #2 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Taylor Frost View Post
 

The title says it all.  I have a line cook who has been with us for several years and because he is the only person who a) doesn't have a car and b) has both a wife and kids, gets some preferential scheduling.  Meaning:  He basically gets the coveted 9-5 Monday thru Friday to be able to make his family life work.  The problem is, I often find myself having to schedule less seasoned cooks on the weekends or evenings instead of the people I NEED to have on staff.  I've had him work a couple random Saturdays here and there but I always find myself accommodating his needs instead of doing what's right for my kitchen.  I even had to change his shift from 8 to 8:30 because he was consistently late due to walking his children to school.

 

I'm a compassionate person, but it seems unfair for my entire staff to be on the receiving end of this all of the time.  My gut is telling me I need to ask for more flexibility from him, but the reasons why he can't are always the family.  As a relatively new manager, I'm not sure how to push the family thing aside and say "I know you need to spend time with your family but my operation is suffering from this preferential treatment."  (Did I just ask and answer that question?)  My staff is pretty tight and turnover is low so if he decides to walk, I'm left in a pretty tight position.  On the other hand, I can't let myself be held hostage by those conditions alone.

 

 After dealing with a dishwasher who had a similar family commitment I can tell you once you bite the bullet you'll feel better. Giving employees preferential treatment irregardless of "seniority" or family commitments is not fair and not what is right for the restaurant. Also really makes other employees bitter even if they don't complain. Employees are just that, employees. They do not call the shots nor can they dictate their schedule for premium 9-5 hours. These are the hours you need filled and if he can't fill them you need to part ways.

 

I hate to sound brash but I feel strongly about letting employees know these are the commitments required to work in this very tough industry and if you can't meet them you need to look into finding an office job. I know it's scary to think about what you're going to do if your best line cook walks or a dishwasher pulls a no call no show after getting pissed off but remember nobody is irreplaceable. As soon as one leaves one will fill the void. It will take a few weeks to fill the shoes of a talented cook or a reliable dishwasher but it WILL happen and you'll push through easier than you thought. Nobody is so important that the house burns down if they're not there no matter what role they play.

 

Pulling the trigger once is all it takes for the other employees to realize that nobody is beyond being let go. Whether they have kids or not is irrelevant, their ability to fill the hours you need is the single most important aspect of their employment and without that aren't good for business.

post #3 of 18

Now I'm going to take the other side, and simply ask that while everything is "Jake" during the week while this guy is on,

why can't you interview and hire the same kind of people for the weekend?

 

Personally, I think what you are doing to help this guy is great and HE is working the day shift, taking care of your place, and making you money.

post #4 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chefross View Post
 

Now I'm going to take the other side, and simply ask that while everything is "Jake" during the week while this guy is on,

why can't you interview and hire the same kind of people for the weekend?

 

Personally, I think what you are doing to help this guy is great and HE is working the day shift, taking care of your place, and making you money.


Agreed, and if he was transparent with his needs when he started and this was agreed upon then I don't see an issue. I think the better idea is to find stronger cooks that can work the weekend. Especially when you have someone that is so consistent. On top of that, if he is getting the work done starting at 8:30 that used to require someone coming in at 8:00, then isn't he saving you money on labor?

 

I have a loyal dishwasher that has worked for 15 years with us. He can only work Tuesday through Saturday and he works 3PM to close. He has never called out sick but can never cover anything else.

post #5 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by linecook854 View Post

 

Pulling the trigger once is all it takes for the other employees to realize that nobody is beyond being let go. Whether they have kids or not is irrelevant, their ability to fill the hours you need is the single most important aspect of their employment and without that aren't good for business.

 

Based on the initial posting, it seems like this guy is covering a shift that already existed, except he is the strongest of the group and can't cover the other shifts, except on special circumstances. So this shift would have to be covered by someone, it just so happens that it sounds like this guy is the strongest of the crew and could be better utilized on the weekends.

post #6 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chefross View Post
 

Now I'm going to take the other side, and simply ask that while everything is "Jake" during the week while this guy is on,

why can't you interview and hire the same kind of people for the weekend?

 

Personally, I think what you are doing to help this guy is great and HE is working the day shift, taking care of your place, and making you money.

 

Exactly!

 

I've been on both sides of this situation and speaking from experience and what info you have provided, it sounds like a very solid, symbiotic relationship. If you go trying to strong-arm this person, you could end up losing a very valuable asset and piece to the puzzle that makes up staffing a kitchen. If the person in question wasn't doing their job, acting irresponsibly and causing issues, you wouldn't find yourself with this dilemma. There are others out there that should be so lucky.

 

There is too much emphasis on trying to muscle the staff. It all seems more a lesson in how to be bull-headed and short sighted instead of looking at the big picture. Yes, I am one of those that hangs on to what the "one minute manager" taught us oh so long ago. The whole job is made up of times as a manager, owner, chef or all the above, you find yourself in a situation of making the tough and unpopular decisions. Yet I've always tried to impress in my management teams that the definition of being the one in charge is that you are the person the tough decisions fall to but it's how well we make those decisions that defines us in that role. This is one time where the decision should not be tough and in the end it will define the type of boss you are or will be. I agree whole hearted in the fact you have a role for this person and it is being filled properly and effectively. Why throw a wrench into the works only to find yourself in a tougher position or worse.....causing this person undue stress on something that he is trying to make work for all parties involved. It's obvious from my perception that, if push came to shove and you gave the proposition of "my way or the highway", just remember that door swings two ways!

 

Isn't it tough enough to find people that are experienced, willing, able and capable?  Oh yeah, don't forget responsible. That's because responsibility is the number one thing everyone in this business is graced with and yes.......that is a very detectable note of sarcasm.

 

Make it work for this person, focus on training others to be similar and your problem will go away. Plus, you'll have hopefully earned the continued dedication and loyalty in your staff and we all know that comes oh so frequently in this business. Yeah....more of that sarcasm.


Edited by oldschool1982 - 3/24/14 at 12:59pm
post #7 of 18

It seems to me that you have a square peg that fits just right into a square hole that you have. You can try to fit that square peg into a round hole that you have, but even if you are successful, you will still be left with a hole from the square one you pulled it out of.

 

At my present job, I work in the kitchen. I am probably the best wait person that we have on staff. Should they try to get me to wait tables then or leave me where I am happy and productive. I am also well versed in accounting, so maybe put me in the accounting office, naw don't think so.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #8 of 18
Thread Starter 

I think it's worth explaining the reason for this inquiry in the first place. 

 

One of my other cooks asked to not close the place up on a Monday night, which due to the way my kitchen is set up, left me with no other legitimate closer.  I tried calling the person mentioned above multiple times and left voicemails, none of which were returned.  It's not that he gets the preferential schedule that irks me.  It's that he almost refuses to flex in order to help out one of his teammates but will frequently need exceptions made at the drop of a hat.  Yes, he's consistent but that doesn't mean he's necessarily my highest value employee.  On a couple occasions he's blamed mistakes made in the kitchen on other people and after light research I discover he's either wrong or covering his own butt. 

 

I had to read my post to make sure I didn't say anything to propagate the comments about him being "a valuable asset".  Remember, he had 2 managers before me, hence why this schedule was given to him in the first place.  Don't assume he's some saint by working a shift that others are perfectly capable of doing.  He just gets works ideal hours because he's the only person with children in my staff.  Even if I required him to close, the LATEST he would be home is 8-8:30pm which for most cooks is pretty comfy.

post #9 of 18
I would tell him tell him he's an awesome employee. Praise his strengths, and how much you appreciate him.then in the same breath tell him he has it good there with his nice schedule that any one would want.
Explain to him the store and staff need him, his leadership and strengths every other Saturday to make your crew stronger. If he still can't weed him out.
post #10 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Taylor Frost View Post
 

I think it's worth explaining the reason for this inquiry in the first place. 

 

One of my other cooks asked to not close the place up on a Monday night, which due to the way my kitchen is set up, left me with no other legitimate closer.  I tried calling the person mentioned above multiple times and left voicemails, none of which were returned.  It's not that he gets the preferential schedule that irks me.  It's that he almost refuses to flex in order to help out one of his teammates but will frequently need exceptions made at the drop of a hat.  Yes, he's consistent but that doesn't mean he's necessarily my highest value employee.  On a couple occasions he's blamed mistakes made in the kitchen on other people and after light research I discover he's either wrong or covering his own butt. 

 

I had to read my post to make sure I didn't say anything to propagate the comments about him being "a valuable asset".  Remember, he had 2 managers before me, hence why this schedule was given to him in the first place.  Don't assume he's some saint by working a shift that others are perfectly capable of doing.  He just gets works ideal hours because he's the only person with children in my staff.  Even if I required him to close, the LATEST he would be home is 8-8:30pm which for most cooks is pretty comfy.

Taylor,

 

We can only make recommendations and assessments based on the information you provide. In your original post, you may not have propagated the idea that this person is a saint or valuable asset but with the information you did provide, it was not hard to draw a line to the conclusion that this person was one of your better employees. Remember yourself, that we don't work with you or the person and have not had first hand knowledge to draw a conclusion. We are relying on our experiences and what we perceive and view as "similar situations" from experience throughout our careers to give advice. And for the record, it's hard to remember something when it's not been said.

 

What you recently explained is close to a 180 degree turn from what you originally explained. Now your painting a picture of an employee that is inflexible, unreachable and just an average employee that you inherited. If the person in question has had two managers prior, obviously there is some reason you all have kept him on. Don't let your frustration cloud your judgement. Also you need to realize, this person is not a manager nor are they on salary. The point is that this person has a job to support his family life and is not a person who's job is more his life. As a manager, you've chosen to be there all the extra hours and give the dedication for the job you hold, and part of that is covering shifts.  It's not the responsibility of the employee to fill the shift and, in the end, the employee has the right to refuse or be unavailable if they choose so. Yes, there were many times I would be frustrated by the same thing and often I was the one that filled the shift. Yet, it was my job and I had to learn I couldn't let my frustration dictate how I approached my employees.

 

This person has brought things to you, probably the same things that were brought to the prior two managers and you have all decided to accommodate the requests. All the employee owes you in return is to be there during the agreed times and do the job per requirements and set standards. Nothing more and nothing less and extra is extra. Also, there is a difference between what a manager views as "extra" and what an employee does. No matter what, you've all chosen to honor the requests for family life and that's admirable and unfortunately, the standard that has been set. Yes you can start to change the standard and make his life more difficult. But that's your choice as a manage so if you do chose to go down that path, I'd have to say that's petty and weak, as a manager, if you resorted to that behavior instead of working through it.

 

Just one thing before I finish. Before you start knocking this person about those requests, have you put yourself in their shoes? I guess it's time to ask yourself some hard questions. I hate to be the one to break the news but this one is all in your court so here's a couple to get your ball rolling.

 

1. Do I have a family?

 

2. If  I did , is this person doing anything different than I would if the situation was similar?

 

3. Is this really an issue or am I frustrated because this person holds the in your words "coveted schedule" and has a life outside the restaurant?

 

4. Is there no other employee available, and if not......found, that can be trained to fill the schedule gaps this person is not covering?

 

5. Have I looked at every option and solution to this situation. IMHPO and from this seat I can tell you there are more than you think and from what you've said.....have looked at.

 

6. Am I prepared to roll up my sleeves and help out until the position can be filled?


Edited by oldschool1982 - 3/25/14 at 7:07am
post #11 of 18

I'm against giving any employee a fixed schedule preferential treatment. Being able to conform to a work schedule is part of the job description as well. Don't we all have families we would rather be there for? I missed a lot of my sons school life when he was young because I had to work. It was a choice I made for myself. It's called life. I think society today wants to make it so that people can have it all, and they can't, it's impossible. It's like when I read stories of women that now need to take off every couple hours to breast feed,  and if an employer gives them shit about it they are being prejudice against women who breast feed. :rolleyes: seriously?  It's getting to be ridiculous. If you can't work certain schedules, then either get another job, or be an at home stay dad. Work is work. it's not suppose to revolve around employees with personal issues. Not only does it make other employees who may work harder suffer, it also makes the business suffer.

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde

 

 

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“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde

 

 

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post #12 of 18

So basically what you are saying is that no one ever gave you an opportunity or worked around some "life" situation?

 

I started in the the industry in what some would call the "stone-age" (pre 1979) and with as tough as things were back then, I always had a boss (owner, Chef, manager, etc) that worked around things for people.....including me. There were those that wouldn't and like you say, I found another job......out of either want or necessity, necessity meaning I was terminated. Whether it was my fault or just circumstances, I a) learned and b) worked my tail off to not be the one who would be considered to be canned if something came up.

 

30 years, even 15 years ago I would agree without question. But now, I'm staring down the "back 9" and I can only half agree with the idea of the job not being there for the person and that the person is there for the job. It's not that I've become softer or I don't have a standard of expectation, it's because life and people throughout my life have taught me there are too many variables that are present. In the end, we are managing people and not machines. Yet machines break down occasionally as well.

 

Plus the idea of that type of commitment works great only if you're paying enough for that person to commit solely to the job. Too many families are required to be a 2, 3 or 4 income family today and that's to just get by. There was a lesson learned things are difficult but there was an opportunity for escape. Today, that's not always the case especially in the Restaurant industry.

 

I grew up in a one income family and my Mother only went to work after we were old enough to be on our own. This guy may not have to option of being a stay at home Dad. It was never mentioned if this guys wife works nights and weekends and he fills in with income from a day job. Anyhow, I doubt you or anyone out there is paying more than $12 bucks an hour to even your best people. I don't believe that's proper and just to give my opinion perspective, I made $13 an hour in 1985. When you factor in the cost of living increase of 29 years, that works out to be close to $30 an hour today.

 

The truth of the matter is we don't have all the info and none from the "other side". Anyone can be as much a hard arse as they want. I was.......yet learned from a careers worth of examples and mistakes it takes more than just throwing around ultimatums with people to get the end result you want.

 

For the record, I really want to be here to help people. But that's just me. It is what it is sotTake it for what it's worth or what it can mean.

post #13 of 18
Quote:
So basically what you are saying is that no one ever gave you an opportunity or worked around some "life" situation?

Not on a permanent, or even weekly basis. Sure, kids get sick, cars break down, etc, but I never asked for a special schedule because of my own personal circumstances. I honestly wouldn't dare, but maybe that's because I'm a woman.

 

The OP stated about said employee: "he almost refuses to flex in order to help out one of his teammates but will frequently need exceptions made at the drop of a hat." not to mention the guy is not even one of his top employees, and lies to cover up his mistakes, like really, wtf? what value other than showing up to work, and being somewhat dependable is he adding to the establishment?

 

I understand about the economy..and the cost of living, etc, but honestly, that's no one else's problem. People are trying to run businesses in the same economy you describe, and they too have to deal with the cost of living, it doesn't only apply to employees. Employees come and go, and can get other jobs, however, business owners have only one shot at it, and a smart business person cannot be concerned with every single employees personal financial issues.

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde

 

 

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“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde

 

 

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post #14 of 18

I understand what you are saying and can somewhat agree but maybe also, I was caught off guard by the second post. The message from post one to post two is totally different and if the OP had included all the info at the same time,  I am certain I would have had a different stance. Probably not that much different but enough to mention it.

 

Anyhow, somewhere, I forget were but I know it was close to 30 years ago, I was taught that if an employee fails, more than half the time it's more the managers fault because something was missed in either the interview process or through training. Yes, there are bad managers and equally bad employees but as I moved forward in my career, this thought process started to make some real sense and why I proposed that the OP actually sit down and think through the situation. I am almost certain the answer they are looking for would be staring them in the face. Finally, I guess it's just becoming more difficult as I get older to advise or suggest to an OP or contributor they should present the possibility of 86ing "if they don't change their__________" to someone without being there to make a proper assessment.


Edited by oldschool1982 - 3/27/14 at 11:17am
post #15 of 18
Thread Starter 
Well given the fact that you guys have all weighed in on this subject, I thought I'd follow up. I basically told him that once or twice a month I'd need him to close and I'd give him proper notice (1 week min). Then I started interviews for a new line cook, unrelated by the way. Well, once he saw that going on, he was more than ambitious in offering more flexibility.
post #16 of 18

Sounds like a win/win for both of you.  To be honest, a typical line cook job isn't saving the world, and it's not really worth devoting your whole life to it.  On the other hand, the needs of the business are the needs of the business.  If someone can't work when you need them then they either have to lose out on some hours or find another job.  The best approach is to be flexible but in order to do that it almost always has to be a give and take.

 

FWIW the guys on the line today seem to me to have it a lot better than back in the "stone age" when I started (early 80's).  Back then it was like-it-or-lump it, in my experience.

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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post #17 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phaedrus View Post 
 
Back then it was like-it-or-lump it, in my experience.

 

 

That might win the understatement of the year....

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"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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post #18 of 18

well you asked the question and already have the answer.

please trust your gut feelings because this is not going to work in the end…..

anyone who wants to work in a kitchen has to realize what it takes, so no preferential treatments please.

lots of us chefs over here have kids, families and friends we barely get to see because we chose to work in a kitchen….

thats the price we have to pay.

dealing with issues like this is no fun at all but no matter how compassionate you are, be compassionate to the WHOLE crew…everybody treated equal.

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