What are your top gripes about employees? What do you do to address them?

A couple of mine:

"That's not my job." - I can't stand it when an employee says this! Your job is to provide the best service possible to our customer. That's a pretty broad statement and means you should be able to do anything from hosting to bussing.

"Sorry, I can't do that for you." - I don't mind so much when staff says this to me (although it usually doesn't make me happy) but when it's said to a customer it drvies me nuts. Within reason, of course, staff should never make the customer feel like there's something we can't do for them.

What are your gripes?

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Mine is lying. If I ask whether my server checked the bathroom recently or if kitchen staff pulled the grease traps, I expect to hear an honest answer. I run a small restaurant, front and back and don't have the time or inclination to check every single thing they should be doing. I will find out if they lied very quickly and it usually results in an "I'm disappointed in you..." talk leading to termination in extreme cases. Especially if they lied about a missed shift - tell the truth and you may get another chance.
Yeah I agree with that one! You have to be able to trust staff to perform their duties.
Lose the phones. Hands down.
confiscation.

Cheers !
I don't run a restaurant ( I edit a foodservice trade pub) so my gripes are a little different from those restaurant owners have about hourly employees. My main gripe is salaried employees who are clock watchers, especially ones who think they have a 9-to-5 job. You know the ones: if they come in late because the subway or the bus or the train delayed them, they still want to walk out the door at 5 because the delay wasn't their fault. Second is employees who will do exactly what you tell them to do, but never show any initiative or ask, during idle time, what else they might do to help our operation meet its deadlines.

As a restaurant customer, I agree with you about the cell phones. There is absolutely no reason for an employee to be on a cell phone while on the job. If a line worker or cashier can't at least stop talking on the phone while taking my order, I go to the manager. I've seen too many QSRs and supermarkets where, it seems, the inmates run the asylum.
Phones are a huge issue, they represent significant loss of focus and distract from and lengthen service. Phones cut into the bottom line and can lead to confusion and sometimes real problems that get you in trouble. The damage from phone use at work is cumulative and spikes. If cellular signals at locations are studied an approximation of how much employee time is spent on cellular phones can be made. And we really don't have to go there, we know it is a big problem.

Forceful confiscation of phones may result in human resource loyalty issues and affect employee turnover.

An incintive program to get the phone away from the employee when they come in the door can work and it can certainly back-up strong language and moderation by management onsite concerning the phone at work issue.

Employee meals could have a bonus for those willing to leave their phones in their vehicles, and that would be an honor system. Those that get the bonus desert or food selection sign a pledge on a clipboard. These are going to be the people most interested in making money and doing business when on premises. Those employees would need further reward and this type of social grooming of the staff can yield pleasant results that increase employee loyalty and uncover some real gems on your staff and shake out some problems simply by bringing focus and alternative to those areas and issues, the phone issue.

If you could glean all of the employee phone use data from say ... 200 Bonefish Grill locations that phone companies would probably pay you for that data. A project to estimate employee phone useage on premises might pay for itself and get a free consultant assigned by a phone company.

There are many creative solutions to the phone problem and one is to make phones an asset for the company. Phones are communication devices and employees who have enhanced communications, (which cost the company nothing), may offer enhanced value to a company who only percieves loss through the phones at work.

Delivering company emails and communications via phones to employees can lead to the creation of an online social network for an employee base and incredibly valuable information can be recieved from that conversation on the internet. The online social network can offer an employee points system that is delivered via the very devices so many of us loathe.

In a much broader perspective the one entity that enforces some unarticulated rule that we must have our cell phones on our person at all times is the greatest culprit and they are ... the phone companies themselves. When you attempt to limit personal phone useage by employees at work you do battle with some of the most expensive and sophisticated sales and media programs in the history of mankind.

Blaming and being agressive with employees on the issue will backfire, co-opt the strategies of the phone companies and key in to your employees connections and dependencies with respect to their communication needs and behaviours and you get much, much closer to a solution.
And then there is always google lattitude, a web 2.0-3.0 mapping program that displays the location of a person's phone ... your friend's phones ... :-) they call it a social networking tool, quaint.
I had this one waitress who worked serving for 13 years. She would always ask which one was the Merlot & which one was the Chablis. She screwed up her Manhattans & Martinis too. "Which one gets the olive?" After she left, she went into banking. Need I say more? Oh ya! I can! She once sent me a ticket for a white wine & modified it with "Cream of Decease". I looked at it for quite awhile before I busted out laughing, figuring the customer wanted a Kir. She always said she didn't drink, so she didn't know. It is your job, dammit! 13 years?

I can't stand lazy workers either. If I had to come out from behind the bar to go get food, I'd announce it to my servers & ask what they needed. If you aren't working in a team environment, the customer is going to lose in a busy environment. Even on the way into the kitchen, you can clear empty dishes. I guess my point is that teamwork, makes more money for all, from the busser to the owner.
I'm not in the restaurant business, but I've eaten in a few in my day.
My gripe (and it applies in most any job where you're dealing with customers) has to do with
a problem, that can't/won't get rectified.

The response by the place "It's our policy/it's against our policy" , of course depending upon
the argument.
I have had a number of different business and all kinds of employees and I want to change the word from Gripes to complaints One of my biggest complaints are employees who are just out for themselves and to not realize that if they help me and other employees get what Iwe want we will help them get what they want.

What I have found out though in most cases what I am griping or complain about is something that could have been eliminated if I had hired the right attitude in the first place, set the expectations up front and given them the training they needed to do the job

I found this question so interesting that I am going to post another discussion question about what gripes do you have about your boss or the company you work for. Check it out and post your thoughts
I think this is the best answer! Hiring the right people has to be the most important thing you do as a manager or owner.
I am a firm believer that there are two types of people(employees) in this world. Those who go over and above because they take pride in themselves and everything they do, and those who don't. This also fall true for many managers I have worked with. It all goes back to hire the attitude and you'll be right every time.
I absolutely agree with each of you about the types of employees and that hiring the right people is important. What is my gripe? The reluctance to terminate "the warm body" because now we have to do a job search. If a person is not meeting your expectations replace them. Too many times I see mediocre employees that just seem to hang on basically because they show up, but these people are costing us money because they don't upsell, they don't create a great restaurant visit that people seek to repeat. They just do the basic jobs just well enough to hang on. In truth these are the employees that can hurt you most because they provide an example for everyone else.

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