Ken Burgin

What Employees Should Never See or Hear

We want to be open with staff and involve them in decisions and success. And the team may feel like ‘family’, but there are some things the kids shouldn’t know about – personal and business! New managers can find it difficult to be discreet – do they need some guidance?

Here’s my No-Go list – how does it compare with yours? Comments and examples very welcome…

Pay Rates and Employee Perks. Most people know what others are paid, but your discussion with each person is about their pay only. If possible, have a manager handle the negotiation for an increase. It’s good to keep your distance – a little bit of ‘good cop, bad cop’ can be useful. I usually found my manager was less generous than I would have been, and his decisions were accepted!

Personal Issues – Yours and Theirs. Gossip spreads fast, and one of the challenges of being a manager or owner is keeping your emotions and personality much more private. Most of the staff just aren’t interested in your hard times or difficulties or crazy new romance. Nor do they want others talking about their breakups, family issues or dramas. A firm ‘No Gossip’ rule is essential, and you lead the way.

Disciplinary Actions. Most staff know who’s not performing, and it’s usually no surprise. It should be handled privately, discreetly and preserving the dignity of the employee. If a termination is likely, have the ‘go away’ envelope of pay and documents ready. If someone leaves, the message is very simple – ‘Greg is no longer with us and we wish him all the best’.

How Much Money We Made!! Success is exciting, but your discreet face is still important. That goes for boasting about the brilliant sales on a huge weekend, the new BMW that is oh-so-tempting, and those Italian shoes you would love, love, love! You deserve success, but most staff don’t understand how long it took to get these results, the capital you invested, or the massive costs you cover every week. Never be seen taking cash from the till, and keep the sports car at home 😉

Politics and Religion: How you vote and how your employees vote may be very different – employers are usually more conservative. And what they believe or how they practise a religion is also private. When your friends disagree with you, they will argue back – staff don’t have that freedom and probably find your opinions oppressive. The ‘United Nations’ that makes up your workforce may also be offended by the cheap racial slant that infects so much politics. Protect them.

The Dumb Boss and the Stupid Rules. She may be hard and fair, or hard and unfair. Or weak and ineffective – whatever it is, you chose the job and have decided to stay. As have the other employees – keep your opinions to yourself. Changing from within is a challenge, and worth pursuing – how that happens and how the boss reacts needs to be handled discreetly. Bitching and rebellion doesn’t get you very far.

Your Potty Mouth. Let’s face it, the language in restaurants can be colourful! Swearing and ‘adult themes’ are all over TV and the net – where do you draw the line? And laws are stronger than ever to protect people from abuse, bullying and harassment – keep it very clean.

AND… there are so many positive things you can talk about… what’s working on the spring menu, new seasonal produce, how well the Sunday night team handled the rush, new craft beers or desserts, the Chef’s new baby, the trainees doing so well, the crazy new colour scheme, a great new shop in the street nearby, celebrating Chris’s tenth anniversary at work, Jessie’s birthday – there’s no shortage!

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