As always, I love it when people send in their questions. Here’s one from Amy about her nephew’s restaurant:
This weekend, right during the big-time rush, when my nephew needed everyone, his best waitress walked out. She thought a customer had cheated her. It left him short-handed, caused longer waits for tables and made everyone work like crazy to keep up. She came back the next day right before opening for her next shift and acted like nothing was wrong. He told her she wasn’t scheduled, since he wasn’t sure she would show up, and to go back home. They could discuss the issue after the weekend. His dilemma was: Does he get rid of his best help to prove to others that they can’t leave at a critical time or does he keep her since she’s so good? The waitress is a single mom supporting her family, which adds to the equation.
Many leaders have faced a situation like this with their best team member. We had a problem with a great salesperson who couldn’t show up on time. He would sometimes come in an hour-and-a-half late. The way we handled it was by erring on the side of grace. We gave that person a couple of opportunities to change the behavior. Each time he came in late, he was given a considerably sterner reprimand. When he couldn’t make it happen, we let him go.
While most leaders want to fire a person for a horrible decision-making process, we have to remember the team member is still human and makes mistakes. The most important thing is to treat people the way you would want to be treated. We’ve all made bad decisions, and there have been times when people showed us grace. Even though the waitress walked out and caused problems for the owner, staff and customers, it wasn’t a fatal error.
Therefore, I would give her one—just ONE—more chance with a serious discussion on how unacceptable her actions were. And if she makes a decision like that again, she will no longer be employed. Walking out in my book is considerably worse than not showing up on time, so I’m going to be a little harsher.
On top of this, I would go the extra mile and explain how her leaving affected the customers, the team and the restaurant as a whole. Don’t do it in a rip-her-head-off kind of way. It’s a teachable moment, so mentor her. You might be surprised that she really didn’t understand how bad her actions were. Or, she might be a selfish dork and you need to let her go. Either way, you’ll know at the end of that conversation.
In Hiring T.O. I talked about how it doesn’t matter how talented a person is if they affect your business negatively, as well as positively. Walking out didn’t just hurt a sale, it made all of the other team members look at the owner with one question in mind: What’s he gonna do about that? Not handling it properly will lead to a demoralized team. And a demoralized team will crash a business. No team member with an attitude is worth that.
Question: What would you have done in this situation?
- Hiring T.O. (ChrisLoCurto.com)