Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Good, the Mediocre, and the which management monkey hired you?

Part of being in a corporate restaurant means that we are basically always hiring. Employees come and go more frequently than most bachelors change their bed sheets. The good ones often stay for a while, though some move onto better places. The mediocre stumble along, some figuring out how to make it work, others just struggling to get by and eventually burning out or walking out. Some simply never get it, and never will.

I have trained people over the years in numerous restaurants, and in a variety of other industries as well. I have learned that in about 8 out of 10 times I can tell you within an hour (often less) the long term prospects of a trainee. Presumptuous on my part you might say? Long term experience has shown a pretty high level of accuracy on this. Other people train with regularly (in virtually any industry) will confirm this.

One of the worst things about being a trainer for any corporate restaurant is that I am not in on the hiring process. So I basically get to regularly attempt to polish a turd some green manager hired because they are too ignorant to be able to weed the good from the bad. These are the days I go home thinking somebody has spent the evening jumping up and down on my head.

But every now and then you get one of the good ones. Someone who is gifted, or someone who has honed their skills elsewhere and all you have to do is introduce them to the system. Those nights go by in a blink, with nary a problem. How I long to be in on the hiring process to increase my chances of good trainees.

I could go on for days on some of the people I've had to train. I've had burned out coke whores who struggled to remember my name. Stoners who could wait tables in their sleep. The high strung lady who I suspected might have an aneurysm had she not gotten out of the industry when she did.

You would think I would have learned by now, but I haven't. It still amazes me how some people have little to no self-awareness. They have no clue they are the problem, or that they need to move on because they have no future here.

It almost makes me miss the Gong Show. I want one of those big-assed gongs that I can bang on to shut people down. I'm gracious. I'll let you make mistakes as long as it isn't costing me too much money and as long as I think you are learning from them. But there reaches a point, some reach it far faster than others, when I need to bang that gong. Instead, my only option is to bang my head, and plow on. Hoping the next sacrifice the managers offer up to the server gods is one of the good ones.


staticwarp said...

seriously. i've hired people who required almost no training at all and are my best crew members, and then there are people my boss has hired that after 4 months of work still cant pull their weight or do anything more than spill shit and get in the way, all the while throwing tantrums, sidestepping actual work, and sexually harassing me/every customer that comes into the store. the only good thing about this is that i know i'll get to fire them eventually... that brings some small comfort.

e.weinmann said...

Very well said. I have started training as well, and am developing the same intuition for my trainees. However, due to the recent utter lack of success, my boss, the owner, is now letting me on the hiring process (I am the only trainer).

Out of curiosity, what do you think the best background is for a waiter who has never worked in the industry before, or who has not been in it very long?

Kate said...

"They have no clue they are the problem, or that they need to move on because they have no future here."

Wow, no future at Red Lobster. I really pity them.

Jeffrey Max said...

I know you're probably not the right person to address this, but let me lay it on you, and maybe you can take it to headquarters or whatever.

I have never eaten at Red Lobster. I don't really have any interest in the place. It just seems kind of bland, you know? BUT... I would go probably run to eat a restaurant called RAD LOBSTER. Something to think about.

Upset Waitress said...

RLServer, The random word verification text for me is "redsex"

I put my applicants through a short oral and visual pop quiz before I even think of throwing them on the floor.

1.) I look at their teeth and make sure there's no crack pipe stains or moss growing.

2.) I ask "What is the sum of 1+1+1?"

3.) I ask the potential hire "What do plants need to survive, oxygen or water?".

4.) I ask "If you drop a piece of toast, do you serve it? or charge them extra for the flavor?"

5.) I ask them to say their ABC's in English.

6.) I ask "Do you smoke?". Usually they return my answer with a question "Do I smoke what?".


TheLobstahWoman said...

Our management hired a young guy... maybe 17 or 18 at the time, who had a terrible stutter. He hosted for 1 1/2 years or so and eventually kept insisting to be moved up to a serving position but they always avoided it- even sometimes moving other people up who had been hired after him! After a while the GM finally just told the guy he can't be a server because of his stutter and the guy hired a lawyer... what a mess all that was! He worked on his stuttering problem and improved quite a bit. He's been serving for some time now and makes great tips, i think people feel sorry for him b/c he stutters. Heh... Just a funny thing i thought i'd share.