Thursday, November 26, 2009


Staffing is a constant, ongoing issue in the small business world.
1. the right people to
2. do the job you want them to do
3. for the money you can afford to pay them

is a multi-factor nightmare.

At the moment in my shop I have five people employed who fulfill one of the three criteria. I would not be alone in finding it difficult to secure the best people, since they rarely present for the jobs I have to offer.

So I have invested considerable time in getting my staff up to speed, on food safety, operating procedures, company policy, customer service goals, minimum acceptable work levels. Some of this stuff is so obvious, I really do loathe having to tell my staff about it. I get embarrassed when someone has not noticed something obvious that requires their attention because IT'S THEIR JOB.

I have one staff member who has pushed and pushed for more hours and changed work circumstances, and got everything she's asked for. Today I found out that she has handed her resume to a casual staff member to get assistance in looking for other work.

This is the first real conundrum for me as an employer. When I was an employee jumping from job to job with no loyalty was all part of hospitality work. It was one of the privileges of having skills to sell. Now as an employer, having it done to me is really shocking. For a start this employee does not have skills to sell. The time I have spent training, the effort I have made to give her the work she asked for, relegating other staff so she can get her hours, I expected a bit of loyalty, but no. I don't get loyalty or commitment or anything but a FU behind my back. I'm hurt and annoyed.

How do I react? Currently I have a useful person doing a consistent job. I need this in my business right now. And so far as the future, I had plans to offer her the full hours she wanted and develop my business with her as part of that core team. I don't want to do this now. But perhaps she's going looking because she doesn't know what I may to offer her. Perhaps she simply doesn't like the job.

I have another staff member who is a consistent but sloppy worker, and who cannot change her behaviours or attitude, as much as I coach her, encourage her, put up with her. Her attitude is the pits. She often comments that customers are being difficult (asking for things we sell, for crying out loud!), and she sneers at people. I have made a huge effort to train all staff about our bread so they can speak knowledgeably when serving, but listening to her talk to customers, she doesn't care. At all. I tolerate this because she turns up every day at 7am, 5 days a week and I need this in my business, because it's something I cannot do. Presently I'm desperately trying to find a way for her to exit the business. I'm sure she has no idea about this. So she will eventually feel betrayed for her loyalty, once she is aware of our plans.

Some of my problems are about communication. I am absolutely not good about confronting people in the moment or after a problem has passed, or taking people aside for a talk, pointing out failures, doing any of that 'one minute manager' stuff. And I need to, because putting up with the mediocre is costing me time, wages and the end result is my customers are affected, so my business is affected.

I often think about how I feel when people I know come into my shop. Mostly I'm embarrassed about the run down, dusty way it often looks, the grotty plates on display, the smeary glass and badly displayed (divinely delicious) bakery items. NO WAY should I feel like this, when I pay people to sort out these things. Shiny, clean glass, beautifully displayed food, with the correct name and price on them and happy, happy service is all we have going for us, and some days we do even have that...

These staff have gotta go.

1 comment:

emzeegee & the hungry three said...

I just read this and cried - because as you're aware I face similar issues all the time. Where ARE the people who want to work, want to contribute, want to be part of a business where they will get rewarded? More than that, where is the work ethic? Where is the desire to do something nice because you care about your job, not because they are paying you? And even if your only motivation is money, why is that not enough for people to just do a good job? Why do they need to be jollied along?

This is just frustrating as hell and I'm not comforted by knowing another SME is suffering the same way I am. I'm sad, disgusted, and wondering where all the good men/women have gone.