what would you do?

So the other day on my security cameras i caught my manager allowing a former employee behind the counter. In general I do not like non workers behind the counter but this gentleman in particular did not leave on good terms. I held a meeting with her about the incident and told her that because of this it was now a rule that no non employees may come behind the counter. It wasn’t something that had been a persistent issue or one that even happened very often, in fact the time she has had someone behind the counter to talk to her has been very minute overall. This is something that only happens a small handful of times throughout the year in fact. Regardless I told her that I no longer want it happening at all and that I was going to strictly enforce it. I am sure by now you all have probably deduced where this is heading, but last night I caught her allowing her boyfriend (not the same guy whom was in the other night) behind the counter. Now I am uncertain of what action to take. I ultimately feel as if this is a giant middle finger to me. My manager is a terrific worker, has a work ethic that I wish everyone had, never misses work, and always comes in even on her days off to make sure the store is good (she does this part without being asked or told, she just wants things to run smoothly always) . This puts me in a predicament. I know she had no ill intent behind it but the simple fact that this occurred just 3 days after we had our conversation seems to scathing to ignore. I would like some external input on how you guys would handle this situation if you were in my shoes. Thanks for listening to me ramble.

What did you tell her would happen if she violated the rule?

I did not set anything definitive, perhaps that was my mistake, I genuinely did not think this would be an issue I would be dealing with again, much less 3 days from the first occurence.

yeah that’s a rough one…I would reminder her about what you talked about and let her know your disappointment then define what the consequence will be next time.

I would tell her exactly that and this makes it clear that you had not thought through everything and need to talk with her about it. Make her a part of the creation of the policy so she is bought into it. This empowers her and transforms this from a wrist slapping exercise into a constructive process. I would then ask her how she thinks it should be handled from here forward.

On the 0ther hand, you would not make an exception for her boyfriend? Seems heavy handed to me. You could reinforce the rule by stating that her boyfriend (not others… a difference in privilege that is appropriate for a manager) is allowed for a short time if he is there to pick her up etc but that no-one else is and that he should not be there just hanging out.

Thank you for the response. I do agree with you on possibly making it an exception, I am just feeling as if I have been somewhat slighted because of the fact that I just talked to her about how nobody is allowed in the back and then she allows him in the back without contacting me. I have a good rapport with her boyfriend, he used to work for me also, and he will come in and chat with me from time to time. I would also like to say that this was not just a simple quick visit, he was there for over an hour. I have been trying to include her in setting policy, but it seems to be a struggle. Do you have any examples or suggestions for things that have worked for you?

Sounds like your manager is generally a good employee. As I keep getting told " pick your battles". Look at it from her point of view, the boyfriend has been in the kitchen before even when you were there, she may not have done it to be defiant of your new rule, just didn’t think you meant him.
With that being said. Tell her you don’t want the liability of any non employee in your kitchen when your not there, the kitchen is a dangerous place. You don’t need somebody getting burned on the oven or slipping on a wet floor. . .etc.
My policy is they can stand just inside the back door. Or just inside the kitchen. They are not allowed near prep tables or equipment.

Unless you have a few other employees just as good as her lined up to take her place, I would remember the fact that she is a good and caring (hard to find caring) mgr that COMES IN ON HER DAY OFF to outweigh how mad I am about the situation. And do what PENELOPE said Pick your battles. And what BODEGAHWY said and let her help you decide what’s fair and what should be done when she breaks those set rules next time.

I agree it is a pick your battles situation - but on the other hand, you own the place, and she should be willing to follow your rules.

I don’t quite understand the need of having the boyfriend enter the kitchen area. In fact, I don’t understand the need of the boyfriend to even hang around the business at all. What other business would allow someone’s boyfriend to hang around while she worked? Would Wal-Mart? No. Would some office job? No.

It’s hard to say from outside the situation, but I wouldn’t automatically jump to the conclusion that she is intentionally defying you. She probably has it in her mind that you meant that specific person or other ex employees that don’t have a reason to be there. In her mind, the boyfriend might have a reason to be there. I would bring it up to her and ask her why she would allow him back there so soon after you spoke to her about it. Tell her something along the lines of how great a job you think she does outside of this decision, and if she can understand how it puts you in an awkward situation after the new policy. It’s up to you if you can justify a reason to have the boyfriend there. It’s not just whether or not you trust him not to steal, it can also be a liability thing. The biggest thing with what sounds like an otherwise great employee is to talk to her about it and find out what she was thinking before taking it as a personal slight. Then, if it comes down to seeing the situation two different ways, your way wins out as the owner. But make that decision after gathering as much information as you can. That’s what I would do.

Hmm, tough call;
Did she look directly at the camera, flip it the classic “1 Finger Salute” to purposely defy you? Or did he walk back there on his own accord?
maybe she felt it would offend him if she shooed him away?
Without getting into their personal relationship, maybe she was justifiably uncomfortable telling him to leave that area.
I would bring it up to her, and gently make it clear that nobody besides active employees who are on the clock, are allowed behind the counter, this can be due to insurance, Health Dept, and/or company rules. (use whatever plausible reason that you want) and that you are disappointed that she allowed this to happen.
I always like to make people understand how things look from another viewpoint, get them involved in the decision making (to a reasonable degree) just to show them that it is really a team effort, not a total dictatorship. Basically build your own protege, instill a sense of higher responsibility into them.

I wish you luck in getting this rectified without a pile of drama.

I’m shocked at how many of you have a ‘no big deal’ attitude about this. I can count on one hand how many times my wife has been in the kitchen while we were open or I was working on something.

Different strokes I guess. My wife does not work in the store, but is in and out of the business (behind the counter) at least a couple of times per week. I am not bothered if my manager’s significant other stops by and chats with him while he is in the office. (I do not expect to see spouses or significant others for cooks and drivers in back though) Of all things I have to think or worry about, this one ranks pretty low.

Every rule i’ve made gets broken. So now i try really hard not to make rules ! Politely ask them to refrain a few times and then reduce hours until compliance. Those pulling for you get more hours. Their choice,assembling a team of people all pulling in the same direction is a beautiful thing ,