Dealing with coworkers who do not pull their weight

Discussion in 'Professional Pastry Chefs' started by Jenny Niedenfuehr, Nov 6, 2018.

  1. Jenny Niedenfuehr

    Jenny Niedenfuehr

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    How do I deal with coworkers who do not pull their weight? It feels like I do all the hard work and the lifting with every team I've worked with in bakeries and in the pastry section in a restaurant, and people take advantage of it. It's killing me because then I started feeling like "why should I have to refill flour containers for them?" or why should I do this or that if they can get away it. I've already spoken to management about these problems at various times and nothing changes except resentment. Other coworkers are allowed to go slower and do less work at my current job. It's so frustrating and nobody works as a team in my current job. Everyone is for themselves and it's a free for all. Nobody has my back at all and I always try to help them. Yesterday, someone took out the butter in the microwave as I was melting it and removed it as it was in the middle of its cycle and put his own ingredients inside. It made me so mad and then he proceeded to put all of his dirty dishes in the sink and leave them for of course me to do.

    The one time I asked him to please wash his paddle so he got mad. I was hoping an hour later that the dishwasher would have arrived so after I used mine he said in a really salty tone "wash that." As far as I'm concerned, I did nothing wrong. I hardly work with these people and I've been at this current job the longest out of everyone. I just feel so alone and I'm always coming behind and picking up after everyone, scrubbing the fridges etc because some people simply refuse to clean.

    Any advice?
     
  2. Jenny Niedenfuehr

    Jenny Niedenfuehr

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    If I don't clean then the places get dirtier and dirtier over time from what I've experienced. I'm just so burnt out and I'm considering switching careers because of the crap I've received at multiple places.
     
  3. gontothekitchen

    gontothekitchen

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    This is a failure in leadership. In the restaurant where I work, management tries to foster a sense of teamwork and will discuss during meetings the need for everyone to pitch in and do the little jobs that don't clearly fall under one person, and we have rules re: what you're responsible for washing, where things go, keeping your work area clean, and these apply to everyone in the chain. Our head chef doesn't shy away from heavy duty cleaning if it needs to get done or sweeping floors. If management doesn't care, then it's not your job to. Be direct and ask for what you need to get done. Let people be the ones to tell you no. Most people will do what's asked when they're directly asked to do it. If they don't and get all pissy, then that's on them. You stay cool. If it's pervasive, keep track of every time you ask a coworker to clean/move something as well as any extra work you've done, in case management does choose to get involved (don't bring up an actual list, but at least it gives you specifics you can point to). But ultimately if the owners or management don't care about keeping clean standards and a functioning work environment, it's on them. The more extra work you do, the less they'll notice the problems.
     
    sgmchef, dectra, Seoul Food and 2 others like this.
  4. Jenny Niedenfuehr

    Jenny Niedenfuehr

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    I just don't like asking them to do things and they do it but they give me attitude especially when I'm not management or a manager. It just seems so low to me.
     
  5. sgsvirgil

    sgsvirgil

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    It appears that you have what I call a "crisis of identity." What I mean by that is you are just a cog in the wheel, but, you see yourself as the wheel. On a positive note, this is likely an indicator of good work ethic, pride in what you do, a deep desire for everyone to work as a team and succeed as a team. To that extent, if management does not have the situational awareness to recognize these characteristics and reward them, then, that part is on management.

    However, as far as you're concerned, I think you will have a far easier time of things if you were to practice a wee bit of the fine art of detachment, especially if you do not have any supervisory responsibilities. I would suggest that you simply go about your job, mind your square, do it the best you can and stop concerning yourself with what other people are doing or not doing. Once you have earned supervisory responsibilities, great! You will then have the responsibility of correcting whatever you deem to be broken. Until then, however, you are only going to come off as bossy to everyone else and cause them to continue to resent you. In the end, the only thing you are accomplishing is drawing attention to yourself in a negative way.

    I suggest that you stop doing all the dishes and picking up after everyone else. Kitchen maid is not part of your job description. Mind your own square and chances are that sooner or later, management will notice who was doing all the work. Two thing are then likely to happen. 1) management will take note of who was actually doing the work; and 2) management will notice who was not doing the work.

    The funny thing about good work ethic is that its most noticeable when its no longer there.

    This is profession that is filled with unfairness, politics and all manner of people and issues that will drive you insane, if you let them. Learn how to not let these things get to you.

    Good luck! :)
     
  6. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    The only way to move forward is by doing your job and no ones else's job. When you stop complaining they will notice. Guy's could be as-ho;es in the kitchen. They know if they leave it you will eventually do it. Don't fall into their trap. A lot of managers just see that the work is being done they don't care how it gets done or who does it. Just do your job and do it well. You can't change other people or their work ethic. In most cases the people who do their job will outshine the laggers....Good luck
     
  7. iceman82

    iceman82

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    I am actually writing a whole book on this, and a part of it deals with this issue exactly.
    After my twenty five plus years, I can tell you ( and basically, the book says the same thing in a much more detailed manner, with the psychological reason why it works, and the fundamental reason why you should do as I suggest ) with absolute certainty; the best answer is :
    Work your freaking rear end off, keep picking up the slack, and enjoy the "f" out of it. Basically, turn the other cheek and kick ass while your doing it. Don't just enjoy it, seriously enjoy it . Dig down deep, get your soul dirty, and find a level of love for that kitchen that apparently only you already have.
    Think about this honestly though, should you stay? Maybe it is time to go. Be honest with yourself. Its okay if you want to leave, or stay, its just an honest question that you deserve to answer honestly.

    Good luck
     
  8. chipshopman

    chipshopman

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  9. Seoul Food

    Seoul Food

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    Sorry but I have to disagree. While this may seem like taking the "high road" and having better standards than others all it is really going to do is enable the offenders to continue what they are doing if not worse. Showing that you are willing to pick up others slack is not going to magically inspire these workers to do more or better. They are lazy and cut corners because they can and that is who they are. It's a paycheck to them not a career. I would follow some of the other advice given here and maybe not continue to go to management with every thing that happens. (They generally don't want to spend time listening that this person didn't wash this dish or that person didn't refill that product after use.) Instead do what you need to do to fulfill your job responsibilities to the best of your ability and let the chips fall where they may. If the manager doesn't get a clue when things start slipping than that's their problem.
     
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  10. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    I understand where Iceman82 is coming from. It's obvious the OP can't get anything done with management to solve this problem. The OP has two choices, she either leaves or does her job without complaining while shinning in her job performance. IMHO leaving is loosing. You never let the as-h-les win. If the OP was under a harassment situation that would be different. The things that bother her are minor things that more or less "get her goat" daily. She is having a problem with the day to day bullsh-t working with idiots.
    That being said, The OP should stay focused to why she works there. She could only control her own path. We all have a choice in life. We can either be like them or be the kind of people who make a difference. Don't let them change you. Work hard, do your job, good things will happen......The Best.........ChefBillyB
     
  11. iceman82

    iceman82

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    In the book, I point out that while doing your job completely and absolutely, and with a sincerety that is obviously currently unmatched, picking up the slack only where it affects you directly, and then look for the slack that would affect them and only come to them. For instance:

    If the coworker is supposed to be restocking and/or cleaning and is not, and it is there station and not yours, do not clean it. Eventually, it will come to light that said coworker is not doing their job. If asked , reply "I didn't realize I needed to clean/stock that station" if told to do so, you are in the wrong kitchen.
    Lets assume this coworker is not picking up the slack on the line, during the rush/service. Sorry, but you are going to have to pull some weight here, and it may take a bit of thought, but eventually you can identify what it is you can leave to "hang" in order to get management to see what is going on wrong.

    While we are talking about, what exactly are some examples said coworker is not doing correctly or well?
    Again, be honest with yourself, is this really a place you want to be? Is the issue small, or big? I understand when it can be a line/rush issue, that can be very very frustrating and hard to deal with. You mention having senority and yet somehow not being heard by management... that isn't the norm for myself, but maybe there is a reason for this you could mention here? If there is, that is another reason to start looking for work elsewhere. Give us some details as to what is going on.

    To SeoulFood, I am not saying totally ignoring it and completely dealing with it. But usually, by being honest with yourself and working your butt off, good things happen... unless there is something to this story that we are missing, in which case, leaving might be the best option ( hence why I mentioned it ).

    In my experience, as a line cook, if someone was slacking, by doing the above mentioned, you win and the other person is reprimanded. I have never been in a situation where my opinion of a coworker wasn't respected, but I have seen it many times before where someone elses opinion of others was completely ignored because of their own performance.
     
  12. Seoul Food

    Seoul Food

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    I agree there is a difference between doing other workers duties and preventing the line from sinking during a meal service. The original poster commented on things to the extent of no cohesive team work. From what I gather they feel like they are left to do certain tasks that should be common sense activities and interactions from other staff members. I am not suggesting that they stop doing anything that would directly negatively affect their job, just don't do any extra menial duties that she doesn't have to. I know the inclination of a good cook is to step up in a situation like the line failing because some worker is slow or slacking, but in all honesty that's the worker's and chef's problem not hers. The chef or manager should be on or near the line during service anyways to see what's going on so I'm not sure how the coworker is getting away with so much during service other than the fact that she just does all their work for them.
     
  13. foodpump

    foodpump

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    Me?

    What I have done in the past was to have a chat with the mngr or owner. It usually goes something like this:

    “Look,you’re paying me X$/ hr. So why the ( deleted) do you expect me to wash dishes and wipe eveyone’s backside that could be done for Y$/hr.?”
     
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  14. chefpeon

    chefpeon Kitchen Dork

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    @foodpump makes a good point here. You want management to listen? Present it in terms of dollars. They'll listen to that. I hate to say it, but management usually rolls their eyes at people who they see as whiny tattletales. Whether you actually are or not.

    Another thing I hate to say is that whether you admit it or not, sexism exists in kitchens. It's a little bit of a different experience for a woman in a mostly male dominated kitchen. It made me a better chef to have to work a little bit harder to prove myself, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't have a little resentment about it. Especially the part where I was kicking ass and getting paid less for it.

    That said, I've learned to draw my boundaries and I never enable my co-workers to slack off or take advantage of the fact that I have an excellent work ethic. My way of dealing with those shenanigans was to institute my own shenanigans. For example:

    * When a co-worker has left their dishes, including a giant 60 qt mixing bowl in the sink, therefore preventing me from doing my own dishes, I would say in a loud voice, "Hey Steve? I'm just gonna move your sh*t over here until you get a chance to deal with it, OK??" And I would move said sh*t back over to his station. Nothing like a little subtle humiliation to get the message across. I used to be that person that did everybody's dishes just to clear the sink. All that did was make me the de-facto dishwasher.

    * When a co-worker has removed my stuff from the microwave, or moved my stuff off the stovetop because he didn't really manage his time very well and has decided his stuff takes priority, then I just take his stuff off the stovetop or microwave, put mine back and then put his stuff back on his station, or if the situation warrants it, I'll hide it. I've taken great joy watching people look for their stuff.

    Now, I don't advocate shenanigans, but if you're going to carve a place out for yourself, sometimes they're needed. Honestly, complaining to management might be a necessity, but others don't have much respect for those they consider tattletales. Being a person who is seen as someone that doesn't put up with other's shenanigans has been my way of survival.
     
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  15. foodpump

    foodpump

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    How do you deal with 1 tbsp. Of sour cream left in a 5 Ltr bucket?

    You put a label on it, “ found this bucket with 1 tbsp of sour cream left in it, found Nov.7 2018”.

    Leave it on the shelf, do not wipe anyone’s a$$ for them. Smile, nod, and carry on with your work.
     
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  16. foodpump

    foodpump

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    Of course, when “ people” use the microwave in my station and leave a gawdawfull mess in it and no one wants to clean it up this is what I do:

    I make sure everyone sees me cleaning it. TThen I take a cheap suitcase padlock, and slide it through the little holes on the plug. Plug it in if you dare! When the complaints start rolling in, I just shrug and tell ‘me I’m tired of cleaning out the nuke. Same deal with the kitchen aid mixer....
     
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  17. Seoul Food

    Seoul Food

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    It seems the trend is that in kitchens especially you have to assert yourself to the other staff in a way that isn't going to jeopardize your job but enough that will let them know they can't just walk all over you. Sometimes you have to fix problems yourself to the best of your ability. Hopefully your coworkers will get the hint and give you some more respect.
     
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  18. foodpump

    foodpump

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    Let’s put it this way:

    “ A true diplomat is someone who can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you actually look forward to the trip “
     
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  19. dueh

    dueh

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    This is something I used a bit to my advantage at a hotel bakery. We put out huge amounts of bread for banquets, as well as baked daily for every restaurant on the property. I went and made sure I knew every single station, and then started asking to go to the BEO meetings, put in the orders for ingredients, so on and so forth. I learned how to manage people, and run the bakery I was in, setting myself up for the future. The best part is, I was such an asset, that I was getting at least a full day and a half of overtime a week, which made me very happy.

    I took advantage of the slack that needed to be picked up, and made it work for me.
     
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