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Food & Beverage - Managing Slow or Lazy Staff
By Ken Burgin
Someone who takes an hour to do what others fix in 20 minutes, then disappears for a cigarette; or the one who can't move from behind an empty bar to help clear dirty tables.
It's aggravating to managers and the other staff who carry them, and may be the reason why good staff leave, especially if they think you tolerate laziness that makes their work harder.
So what does 'fast' or 'good enough' actually look like? What are the benchmarks? This is often the missing information, but essential if you're going to escalate the issue to disciplinary action.
I'm often asked by new operators 'how many floor staff do I need per customer?' Hard to answer without knowing the style of service, but I usually know that, just by asking, they're overstaffed. Many times, young or new staff are doing the best they know how, but they've neverseena better way.
The benchmarks are all around you. They can be set by comparing efficient venues with a similar style (and it's another reason for eating and drinking out). Their bar staff handle the whole room with two people, why do we need four? One person handles their carvery line for 100 lunches, why do we need two?
The McCafe at my local airport handles thousands of customers a day with one or two staff, but a funky café nearby needs three stylish people to handle a fraction of that. Best practice numbers are there if you go looking, and as with this last example, the productivity increase also comes from more automation and careful workplace design.
Setting your own Staff Key Performance Indicators is a critical step in establishing minimum speed and work standards. At some point, there have to be numbers to measure results against.
Here are more action steps to consider:
Finally, what is the 'pain or gain' for poor or good performance? Don't make threats you won't carry out - I've seen too many staff on their 50th warning. But unless there are real consequences for poor behaviour, what is the motivation to do anything better? And how often are people praised for doing a good job? Not 'Idol' hype where every small achievement is cheered, but real acknowledgement (even aLetter of Thanks*) for handling the customers from hell, doing double shifts to cover staff absence or selling way beyond the average.
Laziness is real, but it's the symptom of something else: poor selection, lack of skill, lack of performance standards, lack of feedback or boredom. But you can't afford to be 'slack' in how you handle it!
Profitable Hospitality offers management and cost-control systems (Manuals & CD-ROMs) for restaurants, cafes, hotels, bars and clubs. The systems are based on the extensive consulting and operating experience of CEO Ken Burgin, and enable busy owners and managers to set up complete operating and cost-control systems in minutes, not months. Profitable Hospitality also runs regular management training workshops in the areas of kitchen profit & efficiency, restaurant marketing and functions management. A free monthly e-newsletter keeps you up to date on the latest industry management issues. www.profitablehospitality.com.
Source: Hotel News Resource. “Food & Beverage - Managing Slow or Lazy Staff”
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