Submitted by jowensby on
I am a young manager with only one year under my belt at a large company. I supervise a small group of hospital food service employees who constantly rebel. It seems that no matter how many times I tell them they must ask permission to give a patient a non-menu item in our stand up, they do it. This is an issue to all food service industries, espically hospitals. I have tried to explain that this could hurt the children, but they do it anyway. How do you deal with rebelling employees? Help!
Some or all?
Do all of your employees do this or just some? If some, handle it individually. There is a great podcast (can't remember which one) about the effectiveness of telling the group not to do something versus the individual offender(s). Hopefully someone else remembers it and can post the link (if I remember it I will post it here later).
If you think it is everyone, I'm not sure explaining will do much good. Based on what you've said they frequently do not follow the policy and nothing bad happens to them. I'm assuming that nothing bad has happened yet to any of the children you serve -- so since there are no consequences the employees are proved correct that they do not need to follow the policy (no reason to listen to you therefore!).
Now since you don't want to wait until someone gets hurt before the staff starts listening to you, there needs to be some sort of consequences to them as individuals. You'll want to work with HR or a senior person or check your staff handbook to ensure you are working within the company policies.
Alternatively, you may simply want to ask them why they do not follow the policy since they risk hurting children. But my guess is that the answer will be "because no one ever really gets hurt" and/or because they were trying to make the patients more comfortable/happy.
Are they rebelling or going above and beyond?
The behavior you're describing is giving someone non-menu items. You are categorizing the behavior as rebellion, so perhaps you are seeing more behaviors that give you that impression. Describing them as "rebellious" implies that their primary motivation is to disobey a rule (or disobey you).
Without the benefit of seeing everything you see, I actually interpreted their behaviors as good customer service. Of course, there are safety issues with this, and I'm not saying that isn't a serious consideration. But the last thing you want to do is squash customer service. And I'm all but 100% certain there are other alternatives that are both safe and in line with a customer service mentality. Perhaps you can involve some of these "rebellious" employees to identify some of these alternatives? For example, expanding the menu to give patients a choice between three acceptable drinks, two types of soup, three veggie choices, etc. Or maybe provide a quick way for your staff to get exceptions approved so they can bring what the patient is asking for. You didn't provide examples of what they're doing specifically, but maybe the status quo is overly restrictive and the non-menu items are in fact just fine. I'm sure none of them are trying to harm patients so there is plenty of common ground to find workable alternatives.
Applejack mentioned that the lack of consequences (harm to a patient, etc.) is reinforcing the behavior and concluded you may need to create some consequences to get them back in line. But maybe it's a sign that the consequences are more imagined than real and you just need to nudge the policy.
Now, if they are just bringing non-menu items because they're too lazy to get the orders correct, then of course there's no upside to that behavior. Just trying to provide a different perspective in case your frustration with them not following your orders is getting in the way of an effective response. Either way, make sure you're describing behaviors you can physically see (serving non-menu items) and avoid labels that get in the way (rebelliousness).