Talking to "brick wall" employees

Okay…I need some help.

Lately, I’ve been having some issues with new and older employees in regards to food costs and cleanliness standards, and they’re not listening to me because I am just a shift leader.

I have spoken to my boss and he says I need to speak to them about these issues, but I have, so I don’t know if he doesn’t feel I’m being assertive or what…but here’s a few “case and points”. PLEASE feel free to help me out here!

  1. New employee X comes from Dominos. She was apparently the GM at a successful store in another town, and achieved awesome results with food costs, etc., and quit when Dominos didn’t pay the performance bonuses promised to her for keeping in certain goals. She is VERY nice and I like her personality…but she is kind of boorish and will not “listen” to what you say in terms of DOING what you say. Such as using our cups to portion the pizzas and going by the charts. I have explained over and over that you MUST be consistent with using the cups, even when busy, but she’ll do it once or twice after I say it, then bypass the cups and throw the toppings on by hand.

  2. Older employee is now being left notes of the inadequacies from the night before, and comes back with tacky notes about what could have been done “for him”, even though the things he comes back with fall under the night manager’s duty, such as making sure the opening driver has their chores done before they leave (day manager leaves 2 hours before opening driver does).

  3. Other employees with more tenure dismissing what you say because “they’ve been there longer”, even though you explain THIS is what it says in PRINT of how you do it, and that you expect it to be done that way.

Again, any ideas will be MUCH appreciated! I’m at my wits end with the disrespect or uncaring…or both…whatever it is. haha


I have the perfect solution…come work for me!!! Okay, so even if you can’t come work with me…We are getting close to opening in NW AR. We have been saying another week, every week, for 5-6 weeks…but, I think we will do it in 2 more weeks. I will have a dry run, wondering if you and the family can make it…I think it will be next firday night.

Hard to say exactly without witnessing your leadership skills. The girl from Dominos may not be trainable. Much of the time its easier to train a fresh employee rather than one who has been trained by someone else with different methods.

I would say this, however. If you are having problems with “most” of your employees, new and old, you probably need to start looking at yourself. Examine how you interact with them, how you tell them things, do you then stand on top of them, etc. You are not the top dog so you do not get the automatic respect that he or she does. Does your boss enforce all these policies? If he doesn’t, or is lax, there is not much you can do. All you can do is hold up “his” standards, not the companies.

If your boss has the same high standards as you, then you need to observe how he interacts and learn something there. Vary your approach with the other employees and see what you get results from. No one gets automatic respect once they are given a title. This is a valuable learning experience for you no matter what you do in the future.

Over the years I’ve seen many great employees who had everyone’s respect not make it as managers because they could not develop the proper leadership skills. You can get through this you just have figure out how to get through to them. If you are really motivated read some books on leadership.

Excellent advice pirate.

I think you sit down with the girl and have a meeting about meeting food goals. You explain the system and the expectations. You say something every single time she is not following the expectations.

As for the clean up…come in early and check people out. Talk to the manager of that shift and ask them to check out employees.

At our store everyone must ask a manager if they can leave…that way if the manager okays it…it is the managers problem not theirs.

On another note…these issues will pretty much always be the issues. You will be dealing with this stuff for the long haul. Don’t over react and don’t become soooo hard on things you become more of a pain in the rear to your boss than the actual infraction.

You are the problem solver…even when things aren’t working don’t run to your boss…try something new. Maybe reward correct behavior rather than discipline bad.

I have had managers over the years come barf on me every problem that happens on their shift…I don’t want to hear it…I hired them to take care of it.


I agree as far as take the bull by the horns, if I was the owner I would want to know a little of the details but I would also come with my solution as well. As stated you were hired to solve issues not highlight them.
as far as the dominoes girl I am the firm believer that it is REALLY hard to teach an old dog new tricks…If she has hand thrown cheese for years its gonna be hard for you and her.
I think #2 is just taking the post it notes as personal. I would geuss you may just need another form of communication

The first thing that needs to be done is have a one on one with each employee about the proper pizza making procedures. This can be done as you work, nothing formal. Then when you see a variance in their performance, you once again show them the correct way and explain why it is to be done. The 2nd time they do not follow your instruction, you need to write down their inappropiate action on the proper form you use for discipline problems. Mention they have been shown and verbally warned and you want them to understand that these procedures are to be followed by everyone at all times, regardless of business volume.
Some people can be told, some with a written warning, some suspended and others will never change. You have to decide the best way to retain this person. Merely explain that in order to work here, procedures need to be followed and you are hired to be sure they are followed. Let them know that they are required to follow all store procedures, regardless of past performance.

Thank you all!

Those 3 scenarios listed are the ones who are causing me the problems. Most everyone else is grateful to have me as a shift leader, at least to my face, because I don’t mind stepping in and helping with dishes, etc, if I’m slow and have a moment to help.

I’m most concerned about scenario #1 because, like many of you have said, she may just be untrainable. The boy that is replying with tacky notes has already been verbally told what he is lacking on, and after offers of advice and guidance of how to do these things for his shift, my boss wants written record, hence the notes now being left.

Unfortunately, he is about out the door. I wish the boss would just demote him…he’s a GREAT line man, just not a good manager. But, I’m sure he’d leave if he was demoted. sigh

had someone tell me years ago,
“there are 2 reasons someone does not do something…they don’t know or they don’t care.” If you are sure of the first one then the answer is pretty simple. Do you want someone on staff that does not care?
Above all…no surprises. Tell them what they are required to do to stay employed. Let them know that if they don’t follow procedures, they will not work there.
Simple communication on a mature and adult basis.

There are two kinds of power out there in interpersonal relationships of all sorts: Institutional Power and Personal Power.

Institutional Power is about position, hiring authority, job titles, financial leverages and the like. It derives from a structure of a coproation or organization that authorizes a person to have influence and/or control over a person’s circumstances, financial well being, and/or comfort. Drill Sergeants have immense Institutional Power.

Personal Power derives from internal character, integrity, commitment, enthusiasm, insight, empathy, compassion and the like. It is about who a person is, regardless of their position or status. We have all met people who are simply compelling because of how they go about their lives and interacting with people.

By far and away, the most effective form of leadership is in Personal Power. It develops loyalty, buy-in, connection, understanding, and character within a person and group. Institutional Power is also very useful when the time comes to use it. papajgirl, as a shift leader, you are really thin in “institutional power”, from what I’ve read. You don’t seem to have much organizational authority like disciplining for infractions, power to fire people, and all that. You may be able to do documented training and supervision sessions that get sent up the chain of command . . . but unless the structure supports that sort of play, there is no power in that.

It is most likely that you must use personal power to make a difference in the situation. It is through personal character and integrity that you can make a lasting, real impact on group dynamics. Fostering loyalty and respect takes personal character and personality of leadership. That is more than we can advise over a web forum. It will be about who you are, how you treat people and what people see in and believe about you.

Who is the most influential person (non-parent) in your life, and what do you find that compels you WILLINGLY to follow that person or persons? That is the sort of thing I am talking about. Getting people to willingly clean out the grease trap for you.

You sure hit the nail on the head there Nick.

I am the “go to” for the any customer problems and running the shift because I am there “as” the “manager”, but the day to day discipline and “decision making” regarding employees is not bestowed upon me. It is my responsibility to talk to the employees and report infractions…but that is it.

That’s what gets so frustrating. I am a DOER, not a thinker.

I am not “egotistical” but dang…why can’t those that I’m having problems with kind of model me…even just a “little” bit.

If I have time to lean, I’m restocking, refilling, cleaning, helping others, prepping…etc. I don’t sit and chat or take hours on one task waiting for an early “go home” call.

I am social and try to encourage a sense of “ownership” in our little group of workers, but it’s more like a game of hot potato…no one wants the potato unless the potato comes with braggin’ rights.

Some of the others are really good with helping out and respecting the “chain” of authority (meaning if they’re asked to do something, they will do so, and not ask someone higher if it’s that person’s authority to delegate the task), and those people are really pleasant to work for, and I am coming up with an incentive plan to present to my boss for these harder workers.

Currently one isn’t in place, and it really wouldn’t be hard to come up with a cost effective “bonus” to keep these workers interested. It is my hope an incentive program to reward the good work will let those few “ho hums” work better, or then let my boss see they are dead weight and replace.

Bonus Program will be effective for the Higher management . . . it is institutional power. It will not instill any sense of personal commitment and loyalty to you as a leader. Should make it easier to get them to do stuff, but it will not be because of your leadership skills and connection to the staff. That you still have to figure out as a shift leader.

I don’t care if they respect me or not as a shift leader as long as they pull their own weight with their own jobs.

That’s not too much to ask of anyone. Work for your pay. KWIM?

Rule #1…NEVER leave post it notes denigrating prior shift performance …let me say that again NEVER!

Clear? hehe :lol:

Rule#2…Respect is a two-way street…kidof a ying and yang thing…goes around comes around…

I have run my two shops for close to 6 years now and I hate managers that " delagate" without imput. They last all of one day with me. The manager is NEVER to sit in the office until the day is over and they are doing the books. My employees are all treated with respect and courtesy. Please and thank you are everlasting. Obviously you can’t just let things get out of hand but if you are constantly on them about every little thing but never an occasional " at-a-boy,girl" then yo breed contempt.

Lead by example. I know you have heard this before but have you really applied it? Leading by example means there is no job that needs to be done that you would not do yourself. If you hand out the " sweeping" job to the same person or make sure someone else always does it before they go home then you are not leading by example. You are delegating work load based on percieved level of respect and that goes right to the heart of Nicks’ personal power.

So what I do with my employees is list things that need to be done and we all chose one. Then nobody feels they got " stuck" with a job---- dishes…I got it if you get the make table…team building… notes just fry my arse unless they are for a job well done.

Okay those are my initial thoughts when I read your post. Now I am the boss and you ask me what I think…I have had this problem in the past and here is what I say. Do you tell them to do work or do you ask them? When they are done you you thank them? I had a manager just last week say " they don’t listen to me and I make sure they get certain things done or I have to do them at the end of the night"…and I asked her " do you phrase it that way to the employee" she said yes and I said " well now it’s all about you to your co-worker and they might just not do the work the way you want just to spite you" Work together and don’t worry that you are doing all the work …heck the co-worker you deem as the brick wall probably think they do all the work without reward so they start to slack. Figure out how to get the employees to work as a team and everything seems to get done.

As far as the McDonalds of Pizza co-worker that won’t measure…I threaten ( in a funny way ) to break their hands …and I think we can now assume this person did not get their bonus because food costs WERE out of line for the very reason you are having issues. Just put it politely and again ( like you have) that we really need to measure items and ask " do you think you could do that for me? " If they say they can’t just say " well I can’t have someone here that won’t measure " and go from there. But keep your cool and be polite. If you just run to the owner and say they won’t listen to me the employees will ride that ship too…and make you more uncomfortable.

Again never a note!
No notes @!@@@@

Not Ever!!!


Good Luck

Excellent post Nick.

Jimmy makes a good point. Its one thing to leave a note to let the next staff know they are out of something but another entirely for other reasons.

Just think about emails and how many times people misinterpret what people are saying because they don’t understand the tone. When you leave a note, the person reading it open to interpreting it any way they want. Most of the time it will just come across as rude, irritating, etc . . .

Plus, as a “shift leader” you are overstepping your position. When your “shift” ends, so does your authority or position of responsibility.

And, you “should” care if they respect you. The don’t necessarily have to like you, but you need to have their respect.

I am having to write notes because my boss wants a “written documentation” of the infractions because the manager is not doing what he should be doing.

I’m not a notes person, personally, I am an action taker.

As for delegating tasks…I delegate what needs to be done among them, not dumping stuff off of me, so I need to get the clear.

Say, for instance, I have 2 drivers standing there doing nothing (happens a lot, on anyone’s shift, not just mine). I say something like “hey, we need a few boxes folded for the night rush. Would you mind taking care of this?” or “there are a few dishes left from morning prep in the sink. Can you make sure you get those done before you leave?”.

I never ask MORE than what is expected of them. I just ask what IS expected of them.

I kind of liken it to substitute teaching…when the teacher is away, the kids will play.

As for the notes, they have been put in a way that, had I gotten the note, would have seen no offense to it.

The notes are kept in a journal that we managers write to each other to let them know how the day went, any shortages or overages, what future orders may be around, etc.

The note was “J, a few things didn’t get completed last night, and I wanted to let you know what they were so you could go over them with your new closing driver.”

I listed the “infractions” and said “thanks, see you tonight”.

Perhaps even though I am a shift leader, my boss expects more of the “title” than others do…as he does not seem to feel my “authority ends” at the end of the shift…and I agree…that’s what I expected of the title, but it’s okay if he wants me to step up, too…even if I don’t have an Asst. title.

Keep the ideas coming. I really do learn from you guys/gals.

Has anyone read thru …IMHO…if all people would work together with the principals in this site…papajgril would not have to deal with these issues. Kristi, are you a taraus or borderline taraus? I understand you completely. All need to pull there weight, go the distance, help each other, or get the you know what out!!! But, there is just too much dead wood out there with absolutly no drive to get ahead. It seems may times over, the ones that care, are the ones that get burnt. I understand you love your job, you have a great high ethical standard and it really sucks to not be appreciated…welcome to corp America. Sometimes … it is a sign to go on to other things, can be scarey, but, you are driven and need to find your niche. The sad part is, there are always slacking AH’s where ever you go.


Why “ask”? Just tell, nicely. “Please fold a pack of boxes.” “Please wash those dishes”.

Asking gives an option not to do it.

They KNOW that refusing is NOT an option. But no one likes to be told to do anything. Asking politely makes the person feel they are helping and that is a good thing.

Of course, the objective is to have them take the initiative on their own. If standing around “happens a lot” then you have a management problem in hiring the wrong people, not training properly, or not developing a strong culture.

LOL Close.

I am an Aries…April 1st…and so is my husband…so we definitely have some interesting times for sure! haha