Chit Chat

We have been having a problem of late at the shop where I can’t get the employees to stop idle chit chat. It has been a standing rule that there is no talking on the line other than what is pertaining to the job at hand. On several occasions, talking on the line has contributed to errors (go figure) and they still can’t seem to stop even after they are reprimanded for doing so. Any advice on how to stop this constant banter?

I know exactly how you feel.
Do what I do.
SCREAM at them.
It works for a minute or two so you get a little respite but they soon start up again.
I know how you feel - it drives me crazy, especially the ones who are computer gamers (most of my staff :cry: ). They just don’t understand that they are here to work and not at a social gathering.
Young people do not have any knowledge of work responsibility and no matter how much you threaten, scream, coherse or bribe they soon revert back to talking.

How about tossing out that Eisenhower era thinking? I mean really, not talking on the makeline?

I’d rather have them talking on the line rather than constantly going outside to smoke. If mistakes get too bad, start instituting a penalty of some kind. The only problem is how to be fair about it. That, I don’t have a clue, though I’ve pondered it for years. Ultimately, it comes down to the cut table, reading the ticket and reading the pie, as a last check (well, for DI the server is the ultimate last check), so that person has to be responsible and skilled.

Stopping the idle chat isn’t really conducive to a good working environment, though. If they’re afraid to laugh with their co-workers, the work will likely get sloppier. But, yeah, when it’s a rush they have to know it’s time to shut up and work. Getting that into their half-numbed brains is the trick.

(expressed with all due respect and love for the employees, naturally!)

One thing to do is never let them eat mistakes, that rewards them for a job poorly done.

One other suggestion would be to reward them for a mistake-free shift. Maybe a free crew pie IF there are no mistakes. Or you could go further and a mistake-free week (is that possible) would be cause for reward. I am not one to say that I do it more often than not, but I do believe it is better to reward for a good job than punish for a bad job.


in our shop i don’t mind the chit chat we just ask them to use indoor voices because we have an open kitchen

Placing the pizza into the oven is a critical control point for catching errors. Have them double check their work at that exact point every time: Stop talking, pause and focus, look at ticket and compare to pizza, then fix or proceed.

Have a stick for making errors (penalties that progressively get more severe) and a carrot for avoiding errors (bonus system).

Edit: Rereading a post before posting is a critical-control point for catching posting errors!

Try to vary the type of employees you have on each shift. Example, one older, one younger, one sports nut, one geek etc. Its best they can get along but not be best mates.

When we recruit, we always look for class, age diversity. Now we only have one combination of staff that we don’t mix, they are OK together but get that chit chat error problem and is a last resort.

We actually encouraged our staff to chit-chat in the kitchen, as long as it wasnt detrimental to the tasks at hand. You’d see us back there laughing and singin and havin a good time. We had an open window between the kitchen and the dining room as well.

Now here’s the thing… everyone ENJOYED working and looked forward to going to work for the most part. We’ve actually had customers comment that they liked the fact that the staff was having fun and having a good time. I will tell ya though, it takes a special kind of manager to make that environment work that well.

I agree with the other posts in response. Chit Chat is a good thing. I want employees that like and respect each other and enjoy being at work.

Time to rethink your rules or you will have a lot of turnover problems which is a MUCH larger cause of mistakes than makeline conversation!

Anybody else notice this? Sorry, couldn’t resist :slight_smile:

Sorry, I was chatting while posting!

I agree with stebby1. Our kitchen is set up similar to his and all we ask is that our employees just not raise their voices or use foul language. We even had a review on our restaurant where the reviewer stated that while there he heard a strange noise coming from the kitchen…laughter and employees actually enjoying themselves which helped make his visit even more enjoyable.

So did Brad say hit them with a stick? :stuck_out_tongue: LOL! Sorry my 4 year old has this same issue…she will not stop talking. I did get her to stop for a day and I will share with you 2 things that worked. First…I opened her crayon box and started to snap them in half until she stops talking. I know…bad daddy! She then informed me that the teachers in pre-k breaks them too. I later found out that they now say break them because the shorter item is easier to learn to hold correctly. GO FIGURE! Back to topic… I also got a few quiet minutes by telling her that if she keeps talking she will run out of words and then what would she say? Ok…it worked for a little while. This all just depends on how smart your kitchen staff is and their level of coloring abilities! :wink:

Clarification of my initial post. We let chit chat go along until it gets to the situation where it becomes overbearing, loud and takes precedence over the job at hand … making pizzas. It only gets rounded in when they slow down the make line or orders start having errors. It’s a fine balance between what is acceptable and motivational and waht is not.
As stated earlier I find those who are into computer games are the worst offenders as they tend to get into their conversations and get loud and exicitable as the chat goes on and don’t know when to stop and step back. But then again this is the nerd society :stuck_out_tongue:

Thank you for all your suggestions! I most definitely don’t want to create a work environment where people can’t have fun. My fondest job memories are working at places where everyone was a team and got the job done but could still have a good time doing it. I should clarify, the vast majority of the errors are a result of employees that are FOH, drivers, etc walking by the line and stopping to chat. I find that for the most part, those working on the line can small talk with one another during slower times without much problem since they know when tickets come in, it’s time to zip it and get the orders out. I have worked in restaurants for the better part of my life and in every establishment this was against the rules, only speaking with the line to clarify orders or correct an error.

I like the idea of rewarding for a shift/day/week with no errors. Reminds me of several of the factories around here that have signs when you pull in that say “xx amount of days without a work-time accident”

If it is contributing to errors and the final product, and potentially reducing customer satisfaction, I will absolutely address it!

re: The Eisenhower comment it is not about the talking, it is about the professionalism and skills of your pizza makers! Bad cooks can not talk and perform their duties @ the same time. If they do not care about their performance silence will not help! the only sollution is better employees NOT the issue of talking.

Just MY $.02


Find the worst offenders and cut their pay. Money is a great motivator.

Is there anyway to alter your kitchen so that people that aren’t on the make-line aren’t walking by it?

I put a table, basically in the middle of the kitchen that serves two purposes. 1. it’s more convient for packing orders. and 2. it makes it so the drivers can not get to the make line without being in the way, so unless it’s business they don’t go on the other side of the table.

Today I got not just one but two applications that had SOCIALIZING listed under the Interests heading. I thought of this thread right away. I just shook my head in amazment.