Attitudes and Egos...

Joined Aug 21, 2009
I know we all have them but I've noticed that in some people they can really interfere with their job performance, and of course when the day goes to **** in a handbasket they are the ones pointing the finger at someone else when it is really them causing the problem.

There was a situation with the KS on Saturday and while I am not happy that it happened, I am glad that it did in a way because now the owners and KM see where I am coming from when it comes to him. I have had issues with the KS since I took over as AKM and alot of it stems from his ego and attitude. He was the cause of a terrible day I had when the KM was away and well, he did the same thing on Saturday when I was off.

Apparently he was to call board on Saturday and it started out ok, but when the orders started to fill something went off in him and he started taking over the egg station and the meat station and tried to be a hero and do it all. Needless to say it did not work and they ended up in the jungle big time. They had 40-45 minute chit times because he was effing around so much things had to be remade and the owners had to comp a ton of meals and give away treats and smoothies as a way to make up for it and they are sure they lost customers that day.

The KM is off on Christmas Eve so I am the one responsible for the line and I have to say that if he starts acting that way on me, I am going to send him home on the spot and either tough it out or ask the owner to come in the back and help with board and I will fill in on the line where I am needed.

So.. besides firing his *** or demoting him.. what would you guys do to deal with him?

We have tried talking to him, telling him where we see his strengths and also where he needs to improve, and he appears to work hard sometimes and then he just goes right back to his old habits and well.. it is becoming a problem. He has no credibility with the kitchen staff and that has to come from him. We have told him that many times, and if he wants their respect he has to earn it. That comes from setting an example and working as hard as if not harder than the kitchen staff, and that is how the KM and I have the respect and credibility with them that we have. We have been helping him with this and then he goes and pulls a stunt like he did on Saturday and here we are scratching our heads...
Joined Dec 4, 2009
The problem with egos and "attitudes" is that they are hard to define or describe, hard to quantify and impossible -- and probably illegal -- to put into policy.

Unless you're a certified therapist, you need to stay away from this area. Amateur psychology doesn't belong in a workplace.

But you can and should address the times when job performance is at stake or when a person's action impacts other employees. Even "grossly insubordinate" is an addressable activity.

Standard and professional procedure is to issue a written specific warning. Calling the person aside at the end of the shift is the way to do this. This gives you time to put down something objective rather than personal. And you tell the person that two more warnings come next and then the boot after that.

Egos are definitely two-edged swords. Some of the world's great chefs have the great egos and it's what made them great. On the other hand, egos make for difficult team play.

I'm a firm believer in hiring slowly and firing quickly. How many more comps can the restaurant survive?

Don't address his ego nor his "attitude". Address his performance.

Joined Oct 19, 2009
I certainly agree with gardenguru, however (although I'll admit I'm more certainly not a psychologist) perhaps what he envisioned from his performence either doesn't match his responsibilities or roles in the kitchen- MAYBE (emphasis on the uncertainty here) if you were to find out his goals, and work with him to draft out an action plan to help him attain his goals, he would be happier.
If anything, if you would be a set of responisiblities that he would of drafted out, which would be certainly (perhaps I shouldn't use that word!) easier to define his current role and future in the kitchen.
Joined Sep 28, 2008
I agree with all said above, but one thing sticks out in my mind about your problem employee:

You said:

That may be the problem there. He is jumping all over the place trying to be a hero? Look from his perspective: Perhaps he is trying to work harder to earn the respect of the kitchen. Of course, he is jamming things big time, which makes him lose respect, which makes him work harder. It is a viscous cycle.

I am not a big believer in firing people on a drop of a hat. I believe in inspiring people to achieve greater things. Attitude is very subjective, so you cannot really punish the guy on that. He may actually think that he is working his butt off and getting no respect!

I council you to approach the problem from his perspective. Place yourself in his shoes. Praise what he is doing right, and ask him questions on how he can improve. See, you are telling the guy what he needs to do, and that is making him defensive, right? If you were in a simular situation, you would probably act the same towards criticism. Perhaps you would genuinely think you are busting your ***.

Finally, it almost sounds like the guy needs to work smarter, not harder. He is trying to take everything at once, and is ruining the pie. See if you can direct him (lead him) with questions on how he can improve the performance. Focus the facts, don't criticize, praise what he did right, and you will see that he will change his tune.

How do I know this? I used to be the guy you are talking about. I was lucky to have people direct me this way. You cannot fire them all - it is better for you as a leader to get people on your side!
Joined Feb 24, 2009
I agree wholeheartedly with what the other posters are saying here. One thing I would add is that when you ask this guy to change his behavior and work practices, you need to be very specific about what kind of work and behavior you want.
Don't just tell him to work harder, give him specific examples of what to do when the ticket rail gets filled up-how to organize and manage the orders.
Don't just tell him to improve his attitude-tell him and show him clearly how to deal with the stress of a jammed up line.

There's a great three-part formula in dealing with problems like this:
1. state the facts of the situation
2. state how those facts affect you, the other workers and/or the overall goals of the group effort
3. describe how you want the situation to be changed and what solutions you will use to get there.

If you speak about the problems from your perspective in a clear, factual way it doesn't sound to the recipient as if you are blaming him (even though he might be the source of the problem), and he's less likely to become defensive and throw blame around to you and others. You are also more likely to get "buy-in" from him to find solutions. Use sentences that begin with "I" or "We" and avoid the word "You" altogether.

Example about how you use this formula:

" I noticed that things got really jammed up last night. I saw that when the ticket rail fill up, people began crossing into others' stations."

"Although, it might seem like a good idea to do this, we need to let the person assigned to the station fill the orders as best he can, and ask someone for the help he needs. Otherwise, everyone gets confused and a bottleneck is created on the line when we need organization and clear heads the most. Comping meals and treats hurts our bottom line and reduces the money available for holiday bonuses and raises at performance review time."

"From now on, when business gets heavy, I want expediters to organize the tickets into groups of ten and call totals of orders to be made to each station, then move on to the next ten when those are put up. Only move into another station if that person asks for help and ask them what they need done to catch up beware of assumptions in this situation." This tactic is just a suggestion as to how to manage the "weeds". Use whatever operational strategy you choose, but be very clear and specific in describing what you expect and how to go about doing it.
Joined Aug 21, 2009
Thanks everyone. As always you guys have the best advice!

Maybe he is trying to be the hero to earn the staff's respect or have the owners notice how much he does, but instead of having that work for him, it's ending up in disaster.

One thing did come to mind... our owners are looking at opening another location in a couple of years and he wants to transfer and be KM there. So maybe he is behaving this way so that he is in their minds when they are thinking about a KM.
Joined May 8, 2009
I'm not going to opine, but it kinda speaks for itself, no?

You know what you need to do, just a tough decision. sorry.
Joined Aug 21, 2009
That it does....

Part of being management comes with making the tough calls... and I will do what I have to do so that the kitchen runs well. That just said I doubt we will be busy so I might just end up sending people home early and since he opens he will be the first one to go.
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