Right vs. Comfortable...
One lesson that was driven home in my career by more than one person, who was more experienced than me, was making the right decision vs. making the comfortable decision.
This is a dilemma we are faced with sometimes on an hourly basis. It can be as simple as deciding to let your line cook sandbag grilled chicken and holding it in water because they know they’ll be busy, or more complicated as with dealing with the decision of terminating a habitually tardy employee because you’re short staffed.
I am guilty in my history of hanging on to bad people, knowing full well the need to unload them. The only thing saving them from being an ex employee is the schedule hanging on the wall.
Here is the truth; keeping bad employees is more harmful than running short staffed. Just as pre-grilling chicken is far worse than cooking chicken to order.
It seems that in our restaurants, the comfortable, easy decision is more likely than not, with our people. The downside to choosing to keep a poor performing employee is this simple;
Your worst employee becomes your acceptable standard.
So how does the dictionary define these 2 words?
Comfortable - being in a state of physical or mental comfort; contented and undisturbed; at ease
Right - in conformity with fact, reason, truth, or some standard or principle; correct
In Managing restaurants, we are programmed to be always moving with the ability to assess situations and make decisions. On an average busy shift, there are times where you will have dozens of chances to make the wrong (comfortable) call.
In the long term, it is my experience that the people who work for us and look up to us are much better off when we do the right thing, even if it hurts right now. They respect you as a person and as a leader, even though they are now faced either running short or working 14 shifts in a row.
A simple test is this; next time you are faced with a tough choice, ask yourself, “what would (insert name of mentor here) do? Nearly 100% of the time, you will find yourself answering you own question and making the “right” decision.
Every decision we make in the restaurant business should be aligned with our goals and company mission. By continually choosing the comfortable decisions, we can find ourselves straying further away from these goals.
If you are committed to having the most polished, top tier staff in your unit, does compromising on things like attendance, performance and uniform standards get you there? Did the employee who showed up 25 minutes late with a uniform that looked like it was stored in the glove compartment of their car and an apron that had the special from 2 nights ago on it get a free ride because staffing shortages dictated it? It shouldn’t.
How about that late line check that you forgot about and ran through 10 minutes before opening, only to realize that you had quality and quantity issues on each station…Do you let it ride? If you are focused on great food quality, then no, your team should make as many fixes as you can before you open.
In both cases it may be too easy to let the employee on the floor and the line to run as is, however the consequences that can occur can leave damaging effects on your business.
I will admit, there are times when the comfortable decision call also is the right one. Typically that is from leaders that have made solid, business growing decisions for so long that doing the right thing is also the easy thing…They are just that good.
For the rest of us, old habits die very hard, and can have a ripple effect on your restaurant. From staff moral right on through to guest perception, consistently staying in your comfort zone with decision making can derail you from the goals of the company, as well as your own personal growth.
Lastly, there is this…If you can consistently choose the right and sometimes uncomfortable decision; you will quickly see those troubles that came from the easy way out vanish. You will also realize that those choices become easier to make and eventually the right decision becomes the comfortable one.