Servers and bartenders are often in an unfortunate position when they are experiencing a problem in the workplace. There’s no HR department or other designated, impartial third party to turn to when something goes wrong. On top of this, restaurants and bars can be unique environments.
Everyone spends so much time together that the lines between staff and management can easily blur, making it that much harder to approach your uppers with an issue. Here, we’ve come up with some tips for dealing with a workplace dilemma in a professional way that gets results.
Find the Right Time
If your issue is not an extremely pressing one, and you think it could wait a couple of days or even hours, hold off until the right time. That means no barging into the office in tears or accosting management during the dinner rush. Wait until the end of your shift to address the problem, or better yet, come in early the next day. This shows a level-headedness and calm that your boss will appreciate and it also gives you time to cool off and collect your thoughts.
Of course, if you’re assaulted, having a physical problem, or experiencing any other urgent matter, don’t wait!
Find the Right Words
Ok, let’s say you have a set schedule and one of your days gets bumped to accommodate someone new. This sucks and can be extremely unfair. However, there’s still a right way and a wrong way to approach the issue.
Don’t run down your manager with complaints of favoritism and unfairness. Even if this is exactly what’s happening, it comes off as childish and won’t gain you any respect.
Do ask them what you can do to improve. Try phrasing it this way, “I’ve noticed you took me off of Saturday nights. I was wondering if I could be doing something better and if you could address it with me first in the future so that I can correct my behavior.” If they don’t really have a good reason for what happened, try this, “I love this job but I rely on Saturday nights as part of my income. Can we reach a compromise?”.
If none of this works and you keep getting shafted, it may be time to look for a new gig or move up to the person above your immediate manager.
Issues with a Fellow Staff Member
While we believe you should always try to work things out between yourselves, sometimes one individual can create such a toxic environment that this simply isn’t possible. Take care how you approach management with interpersonal problems. Instead of attacking the other person, cite your conflict as a whole. Try this, “I’ve found it very difficult to work with so-and-so and I was wondering what steps could be taken to mitigate this?”. Sometimes nothing can be done. If the person hasn’t committed any fireable offenses, you may need to think about whether you want to remain at this job.
Again, if someone is harassing you or making you uncomfortable, it is a fireable offense and immediate action should be taken. Don’t hesitate in consulting a lawyer to find out what your options are.
If the Situation is Delicate
Don’t get cheated on a paycheck. Being forced to pay for walkouts, or are made to tip out cooks, do your research before talking to your boss. These things are illegal, so go into this meeting armed with all the knowledge you need to defend yourself. If they won’t listen, call a lawyer. It’s also a good idea to get the rest of the staff behind you for these tricky scenarios as everyone may be experiencing the same thing.
Have you dealt with any workplace issues recently? Tell us how you coped in the comments.
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