Wednesday, February 24, 2010


In the heat of the moment, when the domino effect is taking over and everything seems to be going wrong, in the midst of horror and mayhem, like rats on a sinking ship, they jump. VAPORIZED! First the eyes glaze over, their mind leaves them and then, they ARE TAKEN, instantly, into the world beyond where socks disappear to and wire coat hangers migrate from, the GREAT UNKNOWN. Teammates turn for help only to find an empty space and maybe a small wisp of dust where their mate once stood. Never to be seen nor heard from again. (At least until payday) They have perfectly good reasons for disappearing. “This company is lame”, “my boss is mean”,” I am the only one that knows what I am doing”,” they do not pay me enough for this”,” I had an emergency”,” the sun was in my eyes”, and my personal favorite, “I had to teach them a lesson, let’s see them run this place without me.”

Well, this is what really happens after someone walks out on his or her job: we stop everything immediately and search frantically for that person. After all hope is lost the search is called off and we have a moment of silence to honor them. Then there is a good deal of time spent on in-depth discussion as to how we all might do better so that no one will be “taken” again. We inform the guests that we will not be able to complete service for the evening and maybe not ever again. At a small memorial the following day we all grab each other’s leg and start pulling real hard.


All sarcasm aside, the void does fill with lightning speed, and recovery takes but a moment. In most cases, life moves on with little or no discrepancy since the walker was not performing anyway, they were not able to. Most times with a long-term team member, a walkout has been building for some time. Little or no communication occurs previous. That is a HUGE mistake. I worked very closely with one of my commis chefs on a daily basis for years. I noticed he had been sort of distant and quiet one week. Then one night in the midst of a very intense dinner service, he blew, five full minutes of ranting, raving and rioting right up in my face.(I even got a little spit on me) Throwing his apron on the floor, giving it a real good stomp, he flew out the back door screaming the proper obscenities, my own obscenities following closely behind him. I nearly fell on my rear. I picked my jaw up off the floor; we finished the service cleaned up and went home. Completely dismayed, I had no idea why this happened. Since we had worked together for so long, I called him. After some sincere conversation, we worked out all the issues to mutual satisfaction and he was back on the job the next day. I was unaware he was having a problem; he never said anything! This is a fine example of why it is important to have honest and open communication between all members of an operation. This requires that a manager be approachable. From my own personal experience, I believe that 90 % of walkouts are avoidable if only the person would communicate their troubles and a manager is open-minded; most problems can usually be worked out.

On the other hand, some people who walk out on a job are expressing extreme selfishness. They have taken a job for prestige or money and found that it requires experience, skill and HARD WORK. In the heat of the moment, they find that they have bitten off more than they could chew. Now they have become embarrassed. Sometimes this can become an asset; a lesson learned. Once called out, their limitations are evident, laid bare for the entire world to see. If they have enough humility to admit they have made a mistake, I usually give a second chance. A fresh new relationship (with a different position) can develop and we can move on in a productive fashion. Very creative people are sensitive. Very high-pressure situations create special circumstances.

There are very real consequences when a team member walks out on his/her job. Sadly most companies have a no re-hire policy, once you quit that way, you are gone forever and are “marked”. The HR department will need to act responsibly to those asking for good references for you. They will have to say that you walked out and they are unable to give a good recommendation regardless of the hard work you may have contributed previously. “He/she was a great employee right up to the day they left with no notice”, doesn’t sound too good, huh? That is a bad rap to carry around on a job search. Damage control after a walk out is practically nil. The best hope one has after walking out on a job is to try to make amends to the employer, maybe it can be kept off the record. Get through the shift as best you can and COMMUNICATE the problems AFTERWARD. If you do end up VANISHING, send some of my socks back if you can. Nothing can be worse than having the reputation of having COLD FEET.

1 comment:

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