Some recent “incidents” at the hotel where our restaurant is located have spurred their HR people into action. HR people are a little like firemen when it comes to this stuff, but instead of having their boots with the pants already sitting inside of them next to their bed, they have Interoffice Memo forms ready for a quick, knee-jerk reaction when policies get violated and the call to action is sounded. The computer and email programs whirr to life, and the employees end up signing some form that says “On my honor, I will do my best…” or words to the effect that they will never, ever, do what that other guy did to spur whatever it is they are having to sign again, this time. Even though the F&B department is a separate entity, and we are not technically employees of the hotel, we have to adhere to their rules and regs. Especially if we want those sweet discounts when we go on vacay to their sister properties.
I don’t consider myself a big policies kind of guy; but I am huge on standards and procedures when it comes to points of service and restaurant operations. I don’t like the word “rules,” as it implies some kind of King/Fief relationship and, as we all know, they were invented so they could be broken.
Employee “Handbooks” or “Manuals” are all so similar they are literally interchangeable and indistinguishable from job to job. They all have the same rules, written in lawyer-ese to provide legal ass-covering, and a page in the back for us to sign that says something like, “I have read and understand these materials and vow to cut out a kidney if I ever violate them.”
I like to spell things out a little more simply and directly, so there is no ambiguity; no possibility of riffing on the theme and causing the slow mutation of a standard of service into something completely unrecognizable.
- Here are the standards we go by.
- Here’s why we do it this way.
- Here’s the best way I’ve found to do it easily and quickly.
- Here’s what will happen if you don’t do it this way.
- If you come up with a better way that doesn’t trade quality for convenience, let’s give it a try.
Setting down procedures in this manner puts people into stewardship roles. It tells them “I will not be looking over your shoulder, watching how you do absolutely every little thing, then jumping your shit when you don’t. I am trusting you to adhere to our standards, but there is accountability; and I will check in periodically to observe and re-enforce if necessary. I know what I’m talking about, but I also know enough about this stuff to know I don’t know it all; and if you come up with a better, faster, smarter method, I’m nothing but ears.”
I am a big believer in treating people (employees, co-workers) as adults, but only if they’ll act the part. I like to let them know right from the get-go that if you act like a grown-up, you get treated like one. Act like a child, you get punk’d. Much as I hate to resort to touchy-feely “HR-Speak,” this is what is known as “a Safe Workplace.” Standards and policies clearly explained, equally and consistently applied to everyone.
I like to employ the “See One, Do One, Teach One” philosophy when it comes to training. First time you get shown how; second time we do it together or you do it with supervision; third time you should have it down enough to show someone else. If someone has been in our business long enough to get hired at a place of our caliber, they shouldn’t need much more than that. If they do, they get cut loose like the fat lady in that Spencer Tracy movie about the overcrowded lifeboat. This might seem a bit mercenary, but it’s a nod of fairness to those that are competent.
If I were to employ “rules”, I would have just two:
1. Show up on time and ready to work.
2. Don’t steal.
The first rule seems pretty one-dimensional at first glance; but showing up on time and ready for work means a clean and pressed uniform. It means having the tools you need to do your job: physical tools like a corkscrew, a crumber, a pen, and a lighter (it’s only four things so you’d think it’d be easy; but if I had a dollar for every crumber I “loaned” out, I wouldn’t need this job). Mental tools like a non drug-addled brain, so you will have the ability to recall the product knowledge and other information you need to perform your job. You need to show up with a good attitude. Everybody has problems, and I am more sympathetic than your average guy because of the been-there-done-that; but you gotta check that shit at the door, cowboy up, and go to work.
Don’t steal means just what it says. Don’t steal my, the company’s, the guests, or your co-workers money. You steal my money when you are lax, lazy and/or slow I have to add more staff, kissing any hope of a bonus bye-bye because you’ve driven my labor numbers into the stratosphere.
You steal the guests’ money when they have to put up with your crappy or indifferent attitudes or lackadaisical work habits, depriving them of the experience they should have had.
You steal the company’s money when you fuck up and food needs to go back to get re-cooked or thrown away; when you aren’t paying attention and equipment gets damaged or broken; when guests have to put up with your bad attitude and don’t return.
You steal your co-worker’s money when you are constantly late (a crossover from Rule 1), skip out on sidework, hide cash tips, or dominate the time of the cooks, dishwashers and SA’s; or continually need to ask for help or have co-workers bail you out.