Not that long ago I asked a question on How To Be A Good Server Blog’s facebook page and with all the responses to this question, there was one thing that a stood out among the rest. The question was:
What is the biggest problem you run into at work?
Now I thought when I posted this question that I would hear some things like:
- Not enough shifts
- Too many shifts
- I’m the only one doing side duties
- I don’t make enough money
- Problem guests
- Other staff
- I’m not allowed to drink on shift
- I didn’t win the lottery, so now I need to work this split-shift today
I received 17 private messages from people who wanted to tell me their biggest problem, but was either afraid to put their comment on the page just in case someone who they didn’t want to see it, saw it, and some just wanted to not sound like they were whining or being bitchy about it. Of those 17 messages 12 of them were about the same thing:
This is quite a concerning issue because management is there to support everyone in the restaurant (well that’s how I see it). Yes they are responsible for daily operations, scheduling, banking and a whole bunch of other administrative stuff, but I think that the most important priority a manager should focus on is to support the entire team.
I replied to all the messages that were sent to me and I asked if they could expand a bit more on their problems with management. Not everyone got back to me but I got enough responses to find a few key issues:
- Uses the “power” to talk down to people
- Doesn’t support the staff (one example was a guest being cut-off for being intoxicated and when the manager spoke to the guest, they gave them another drink and apologized on behalf of the server)
- Never around during breakfast, lunch or dinner service
So how do you approach an issue with a manager without things getting ugly?
Each situation is unique and should be handled differently, I’ll do my best to give you some different options to help resolve problems with management.
- You can ask to sit down for a one-on-one before or after your shift to talk about an issue. Your approach should never be aggressive or irrational. Bring up the issue, explain why it is affecting you and maybe others, and also be prepared with a plausible solution. If the manager has a problem with abusing power then this is not your best option.
- If you aren’t confident doing a one-on-one with a manager to bring up an issue you can always do it as a group. If there are other staff members having the same problem you can get together and bring it up as a group. Once again you need to not be aggressive or irrational (especially in a group situation). I’ve found that this approach works better, because with multiple people rallying together to help solve a problem, it shows that it’s a legitimate issue and will be taken more seriously (not that the one-on-one scenario isn’t legitimate, but with more people it sinks in a little more).
- If your issue is with a manager who is abusing their power this will probably be your best option. It’s as simple as approaching another manager, a higher ranking manager (like a general manager), or even the owner. You should once again follow the same formula of not being aggressive or irrational, explain why it’s a problem and offer a solution. If you point out that the issue is making the business suffer, then this is more incentive for these people to want to fix it quickly (especially the owner).
It’s never fun being in a situation where there are problems with management, it can make it tough being happy to go to, or be at work, but if you are logical in trying to find a solution and have some support, you should hopefully get things back to normal.
One last piece of advice is to not use sabotage or dirty tactics to get these things fixed. A server I used to work with had a problem with a manager so he pretended to be a guest that ate at the restaurant. He sent an email to the general manager with this outrageous story basically saying this manager swore, threatened and pushed him. Problem was he sent it from an anonymous email then bragged about it on facebook.
Guess who saw the facebook post?
If you have any other questions or have had problem with management where things worked out, please share it in the comments.
Thanks and have a great day.