Supervising Those Who Don’t Respect Coworkers

A question for Ask the Workplace Doctors about supervising: How do you supervise those who don’t respect each other and are individualistic?

I am the supervisor in a kitchen at an on campus job, and I have been noticing more and more lately that the people that I work with seem to have no respect for one another, much less me, and are very individualistic, in the sense that they don’t appreciate group achievement and are more concerned with their own personal outcomes than that of the kitchen staff as a whole.

I have tried going to upper management many times to see if there is something that we can do to encourage the staff to behave like a team in order to be more effective, but management sticks to the front of the house and does not see the turmoil in the back, so they don’t deem the kitchen’s state a problem.

I am looking for some advice and guidance to help me help the kitchen run more effectively. I know getting the staff to view themselves as a team is essential, but I am not sure what I can do to get them to see that?

Signed, Kitchen Duty

Dear Kitchen Duty:

I suggest that you have the ability to answer your own question. You have done that in a job specific way. I will be interested to learn if you put your advice into action. I believe in a way that the way to correct a situation at an job is to prove to the staff how badly they really do need each other to operate. In a response to my contact with you, you said. “At the beginning of each night, I assign a station to everyone, and as the night comes to an end, everyone thinks that as soon as their station is cleaned, that they should get to leave, regardless of whether or not the whole kitchen is clean.”

I agree  that is a good way, using your own words, ” to get the crew to start respecting one another. Train everyone on every station to show that every station is as important as is the next. Also to prove to the staff that they are better off working as a team than as an individuals, each person for one night should be required to be 100% responsible for his/her station and should get no help from anybody. That may sound cruel but it would do much to show the crew members that they need each other and without each other, nobody’s station runs properly.”

“I also think that it would be effective to set up some sort of competition with a reward system for the closing crews, since the closing crews are the ones that seem to have difficulty working as a team. A way to make this happened could be to have a checklist of things that need to be done by the end of the night, each night. Points will be assigned based on how well the job is done. For example: If a different team closes every night of the week, there should be a checklist at the end of the night and all of the criteria on the checklist should have to be met.If each item on the checklist is, say, four points, the crew has the ability to get four out of four points, or lower if the job is not done particularly well. At the end of the week, management could look at which closing team had the most points for their shift, and create some sort of reward for that team. It would invite friendly competition into the workplace and force the crews to work together as a team. It would demonstrate that they need to work together to make things run successfully. This would be a fun way to show the crew that they are better off working together than working individually.” Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. I wait to learn what you do.

Lauren O’Rourke, Guest Respondent