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Friday, August 24, 2012

Mandatory Restaurant Meetings: Useless

Ahh, the mandatory meeting. In no other job outside of the restaurant industry have I been expected to attend a meeting that may or may not be on my day off. Of course, what other job have I had that is outside the restaurant, so how would I fucking know? The most recent one I was forced to attend was in fact on my day off. Sure, we may get paid for it, but like I need that extra $5.00 for an hour long meeting. I'd rather have my day off, thanks. The meetings are always the same. The owner or district manager or whoever the fuck else shows up to burp out some words of wisdom. This particular meeting was also attended by a silent partner who was anything but silent. Every time he piped in, I automatically dismissed his comments because he knows absolutely nothing about serving. Besides, his wardrobe looked like he raided the closet of Mr. Furley and how can anyone take him seriously? The meetings are meant to inspire, challenge, correct and educate but really all they do is create a big "shut the fuck up" moment that happens collectively among the employees. These people show up and act like they know what is best even though they only show their faces once every four or five months Their ideas may look good on paper, but they need a healthy dose of reality. Unless you are in the restaurant every day, you really don't know how things work. Do I resent them? Oh hell yes.

At the most recent mandatory meeting, I took notes because I wanted to make sure that I got all of their points down on paper in order to memorize them and make our establishment a better place. No not really. I took the notes so I could put them on this blog and people could see how utterly lame and pointless the meeting was. These are a few of the things that were deemed important enough for me to forfeit my day off and drag my ass to work for an hour:
  • Up sell. No shit. Anyone who has waited tables for more than a hot second knows this point. "A vodka/tonic, sir? Is there any vodka in particular you would like? Might I suggest Grey Goose, Kettle One or Any Other Way Expensive Brand?"
  • No eating while on the clock. Yeah, right. Uh huh. Sure. You try working an eight hour shift with no break and see if you don't grab a handful of whatever you can get.
  • No drinking. Excuse me, how the hell do you expect me to deal with the bitch at table 18 if I don't have a hidden glass of Pinot Grigio in a plastic cup?
  • No cell phones at work. Now that is just dumb. Look, I'm not going to be answering my phone whilst taking an order but I will have my cell phone with me. I need it. It is very important that my phone is in my possession so when someone stiffs me I can take a picture of their credit card receipt and publish it to Facebook. It's what I do. T-Mobile made me do it.
  • Be friendly. Oh, really? I thought I was supposed to openly show my disdain for my guests. Thanks for pointing that one out.
  • Be upbeat. That's why I need the plastic cup of Pinto Grigio.
  • Do your sidework. Again, this pearl of wisdom fell right off the Obvious Truck.
  • Respect one another and respect your managers. Now that is just fucking hilarious.
Yes, that was the extent of the meeting. Why they didn't simply send us an email or text message, I'll never know. Perhaps our silent partner wanted to show off his latest pant and jacket combo and felt that a mandatory meeting was the best way to do that. As for the information we were given, file them all under "no, duh" and call it a day. Here are a few more nuggets of wisdom I am surprised they didn't mention to us. All equally obvious but just as important:
  • Wear your pants at work at all times.
  • Do not floss your teeth while standing at a table. Do this in the sidestand or the service bar.
  • Do not pour vodka on a guest and light them on fire no matter how tempting it is.
  • No pets allowed.
  • Be alive when you show up to work.
  • Clock in and out so we can pay you even though you do this for the love of it and not the money.
  • No smoking crack, shooting heroin or tripping on acid while on the clock.
  • When someone orders something, ring it in, and then bring it to them when it's ready because we owners think you are so stupid that you may not understand your function as a server and we feel better if we point out the obvious. It makes us feel superior to you because we all have small penises and have to exhibit or machismo and authority every chance we get.
I hate the obligatory mandatory meetings in the restaurant world. Only once has the meeting been worth attending. We had a pizza party at it. Next time I go, I'll just have to make sure my plastic cup of Pinto Grigio is full.

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ourmeetingnextweek said...

lol...meetings are only (loosely) interesting IF there's a wine tasting to keep your attention!

Kimberley Hart said...

Mandatory meeting yesterday at work for trainers. On my day off. "Attend, or lose your red (trainer's) apron." OOOOOOOOOOOO! So scared, but an extra hour of minimum wage (over a buck below my regular pay as a cashier), so okay.

We had to make New Year's Resolutions, because you know, New Fiscal Year. Cashiers and retail people came up with having a set way to actually train people since we never get more than a few hours with new hires before turning them loose on an unsuspecting clientele. Retail manager jumps in with, "We have a whole booklet on that; they are in the back!" She rushes off and brings back a seven page package of What You Should Cover (of 97 Transactions) in a Three Hour Encounter with Someone Who has Never Worked a Register Ever.

Really? I've been at this restaurant for five years, been a trainer for four years, and this is the first time I've ever seen this? (None of the other trainers have seen it, either, but I've been there longest so it only makes sense that someone would have helped me be a better trainer at some point, right?) Oh well.

Servers that are trainers were told there are too many of them (seven and we only need four), so some of them will go back to wearing the mud brown aprons and not be on training status anymore. Again with the "ooooooooooooooooo", because a) there was no pay raise with that red apron and b) there will be no pay cut. Not to mention, c) no one has to put up with trying to get 18 hours of training into a new hire with only 12 hours of working with them.

Cashiers were told it is up to the retail manager if she keeps us. There are only two of us anyway. One works mornings, I work mostly afternoons and evenings. Both shifts covered. "If we aren't utilizing you, you won't be a trainer anymore." So helloooooo? Wouldn't it be good to schedule the new hires when the trainers are scheduled? (Especially on the days we aren't off?) Or at least vice versa (snark). As it is, they have non-trainers with little experience on the job themselves training new people. Which only throws a monkey wrench into the whole thing.

Result of the meeting? I reminded my retail manager that my availability is far greater than what I'm scheduled and I can work nights to help train new hires.

If there's no extra pay and no great bennies, why do I care? It's not because of the red apron (which is actually more of a maroon and makes me look like a country-store ghost). It's because I take pride in my job, and I want the new hires to do so, as well. I want us to be building a team and not just a bunch of bodies who can push buttons to plug into the schedule. I want job security -- ie, guests to come back -- so I want our team to be friendly, as mistake-free as we possibly can be, and consistent.

Thankfully, we didn't have any talking heads yesterday and our new Training Coordinator has a clue about all of our jobs, not just the servers, so that helps. Still, I don't like them on my day off, either. Especially since we have to show up in uniform. Because, yeah, who wants to get up, go out in uniform for an hour, and either go back home or bring a change of clothes to do anything else the rest of the day? Bleah.

Upside for you, though? You got pizza and can hide Pinot Grigio in that cup of yours. :-) All we got was a country fried steak cut up into steak fingers and cheese fries. Oh, and all the free iced tea we can drink. ;-)

Josh said...

Perfect timing for this post- I have one tomorrow (yes, Saturday) at 8am.
I'm sure everyone will show up bright eyed, bushy tailed, and NOT AT ALL HUNGOVER AND/OR STILL DRUNK.

I don't understand how people in charge of multimillion dollar operations can be so fucking stupid.

Jennifer Black said...

What I worked as a receptionist/vet assistant in a private animal hospital, we had monthly staff meetings that always ALWAYS took place on my day off. And yes, I was expected to show up for an hour to listen to the asshole head vet berate everybody for not doing his job for him.

Jill said...

431Don't you think most meetings, of any sort, at any place , are basically a waste of people's time? I'm convinced that some people have meetings in lieu of a social life.

MEK said...

I work at a hotel, and the manager is always coming back to housekeeping and calling for meetings WHEN WE SHOULD BE WORKING and tries to tell us how to housekeep. He is a fat old man who has never made a bed or cleaned a toilet in his whole life, what does he know? Managers are full of hot air and just like to hear themselves talk.

Bitchy Britt said...

My meeting was pretty. awesome today.. vodka tasting right before I went on the floor : ) and our liquor rep was super hot

Anonymous said...

My favorite employee meeting was one I attended after a coworkers had a Halloween party. Everyone showed up, probably still drunk, in costumes. Nothing was said about our lack if attentiveness, but there were no more meetings scheduled after a holiday.
I also think the cell phone stuff is ridiculous. I think "what's good for the goose, is good for the gander". If there is no cell phones, then set the example as a manager. An employees life is no less important then a managers life, so sometimes we might need to communicate with the outside world. I'm pretty sure high schools have better cell phone privalages than restaurants.

jasgem said...

My favourite ever meeting was one where they set the meeting to take place before a wine tasting but forgot to tell the wine rep to come an hour later. Consequently, we had the wine tasting first but being total alcoholics, nobody was spitting out the wine. By the time the meeting started, we were all rolling drunk. I don't remember what the meeting was about, though I assume it was pretty similar to the one in your post Bitchy. whatever it was about, the fact that I don't remember it clearly hasn't had an impact on my work so maybe the fact that I've had about 15years more experience than the 12 year old manager worked in my favour this time.

Becky said...

When I worked at the Big Box Music Store, we had mandatory Saturday morning meetings. I don't recall any of them having any sort of point. I think they were meant to to pep us up or something, but it just made us all tired. I do remember there were always donuts, and often beer though. I don't like donuts or beer though, so meh.

The Artist Formerly Known As Bagel Fairy said...

Ugh, hated those. Ours were always on Sunday nights, and I was an opener, so I invariably worked at 5 a.m. the next morning. So I'd be sitting there sipping decaf tea and grumbling about how I was supposed to be in bed already, while some manager droned on the attendance policy...even though the worst violators never showed up to those meetings.

Anonymous said...

I love our team meetings now because I work from home and it's done by conference call, so for me it's just half an hour off the phones. Back when I worked for KFC, not so much. Then it was a half hour bus ride there and back to hear a whole lot of obvious as yours was.

efficient said...

The tips are so nice and the tips related to the employee are 100% correct....

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