Daily Life · Work

How to Become the Best Employee in Your Work.

Working as a manager has been a really enlightening experience. Not only did it teach me a lot about myself, but it also taught me a lot about what managers look for in employees. Accumulating this knowledge was a bit of a painful process. This was my first job as a manager and it really was very difficult learning to deal with all the different facets and interpersonal relationships. The way you interact with employees is different from the ways that you interact with coworkers who share the same status in the work que. All this being said – at the end of the time frame that I worked there, I really sat down and thought about what made a good employee. I want to define a good employee as: someone who you as a manager continue to want to work with, mentor, encourage, and give opportunities to. That being defined, I want to talk about the qualities that I as a manager look for in an employee, an acrynm that I like to call “ACTING PROWS”

  1. Attitude – Attitude makes a huge difference. How many times do you want to be around someone who has a bad attitude? A clue – 0. This goes for work as well. I know that everyone has bad days but please think of it like this – Your manager is dealing with a lot of stress, having to wonder why someone isn’t acting appropriately or stomping around their work space shouldn’t be among it. When you get to work – drop whatever outside baggage you are carrying at the door and walk in with confidence and a great attitude. One of the best workers I have had and one of the few people I really really enjoyed working with was a young girl who was always “Great”. Every time you asked her – she found one positive thing to talk about. You could ask her what was new and she would find something to think about. I watched her walk through a 4 inch puddle of water to provide customer service – her favorite shoes got soaked and the comment she made was “I have others at home I can wear tomorrow…. They will dry.” Her attitude made everyone love working with her.
  2. Communication – Everyone has always heard “Communication is key”. Ok – yes this is true, but so the way in which you choose to communicate. It’s very very important to remember that honesty when you communicate is great, but so is learning to phrase your words so that you don’t place blame on another person, sound aggressive, or being short. I have watched as two seperate people have become their own clique. They were so ademate about being “clear” communicators that they ostracized themselves from the rest of the team and did more damage then good. Please understand – it is important to clearly communicate what you need (both with your manager and your teammates), it is also important not to over communicate. Telling people what they need to do, being short in the effort to be clear, and oversharing what they think about their jobs.
  3. Timeliness – The thing that really drove me nuts was timeliness. When you are scheduled for a certain time – show up for that time. Yes occassionally running late happens. I had several people who would either call-in or show up late on a regular basis. This is frustrating for a manager because guess who is covering your job and theirs? We are. Let me be clear – If you are going to be late – communicate it prior to that timeframe. If you are going to call in – sooner rather than later. I strongly believe that calling in more than 3 days a month – you better bring a doctors note to cover your job. Regularly calling-in or showing up late is unacceptable. It shows a lack of commitment or an amount of burnout for your job.
  4. Integrity – Integrity is more than just honesty. Integrity in the work place while it refers to honesty it also refers to completing your commitments. Honor your word. This goes hand in hand with respect (Point 8) and Timeliness (Point 3). Think about it this way – if I as the manager tell you that I will send in your request for use of Sick Hours in this payroll, and then I don’t because “I had plans” or “I changed my mind” how would you feel? You would feel like I’m not dependable and untrustworthy. That is how managers feel when employees change their plans last minute. It provides them with the sense of not trusting the employees to actually do their jobs. The basic memo – fulfill your commitments and have some integrity.
  5. News reporter – Unless you work for CNN, ABC, FOX, Or BBC News – it is not your job to be a reporter. I’m not talking about telling your manager when something goes wrong or someone does something that is out of line. I’m talking about gossip. Let me tell you – I have heard so many horrible stories about the people I work with. All from the coworkers of that person. I have had gossip spread about me. It creates a disfunctional and toxic waste environment in which to work. Do NOT gossip. We all remember highschool. Gossiping about someone is exactly the type of behavior that puts us right back in the toxic, bullying environment that highschool created. Come in, do your job, don’t create drama. If you need drama watch shows at home like “Keeping Up with the Kardashians”.
  6. Guidable – Guidability is similar to teachability. The best employees are the ones that are willing to learn new tips and tricks. One of the girls I liked to work with was the one that I could sit down and talk to about how to change and do things better and it would be done. She would ask for advice and would take what she learned and impliment it. This type of employee is the one that will go far because she is moldable.
  7. Problem Solving – Helping your manager is the best thing you can do. The employees that become close workers with your manager is the one that not only sees the problems within the workplace but searches for solutions before bringing it to the managers attention. I’m not going to lie – I hated having problems brought to me because I would have to find a solution on my own. I did however have one person who would bring a problem and 2 solutions each time. Maybe I didn’t use her solutions but it brought a starting point to the conversation – one which we could bounce around and then find a solution. She was one of the best employees I have worked with ever.
  8. Respect – “Respect is earned not given” – Yes managers must be respectful, they have to earn the trust of their employees. However, respect should always be given to those in power. I have had people refuse to do their job. If they talked to the owners that way – they would have been fired. This really goes back to the attitude point mentioned. When you have a bad attitude you start to be disrespectful. Watch carefully that you don’t follow that track. At the end of the day – you are paid to do your job. If you don’t like it – quit, if you refuse – you run the risk of being fired. There are simple ways to show respect to your boss – don’t interrupt, do your job, be on time. These are simple ways to make a great impression and leave your boss more inclined to give you opportunities for growth.
  9. Organization – The best of employees are organized. They have organized work spaces and they have great time management. They keep lists of things they need to do and they take notes. Taking notes and being organized is a good way for you to start, keep up throughout, and end your day. I’ll be honest – I use Wunderlist on my phone. It’s a great app that allows you to keep multiple checklists as long as you want.
  10. Willingness – This goes back to respect and being teachable. A willingness to being teachable, learning a new way of saying things, or doing your job goes a long way. Like I’ve said the best employees I’ve worked with are the ones that impliment new strategies and show respect in the process.
  11. Service Oriented – When you are working in customer service – that person who is always on top of things. This really comes down to time managment, attitude, and organization. It is important to really focus on your customers when you are with them and pay attention to the little details that will make their experience better. Simple things like making sure that you can substitute an item out for them is important. But having that attitude and making sure they feel that they are the center of your universe is very important.

The little things like these are the ones that are going to make you stand out to your manager. They will bring you more opportunities because people will notice what you are doing. It’s rare to find someone who fits these qualities so when you do – it may take a moment for them to realize that it’s real but then they will reward you.

 

Have questions or a comment? Share with me!

Daily Life · Relationships · School tips · Work

Socially Acceptable?

Lately I’ve been thinking about social norms. Mainly because I was asked by a customer the other day what I think the biggest challenges facing women in the management workforce are. It’s a good question. Great actually. I really had to stop and think.

He and I continued to have a discussion about what the differences between men in management and women in management are. I’ve always enjoyed sociology and psychology when I take those classes. However the reality is that it doesn’t just permeate our society when it comes to management, it’s embedded into our thought process.

Gender stereotypes are weird when you think about them and heaven only knows when they started or where they came from. A great example: Pink is considered a feminine and girly color, while blue is considered a manly color. Interestingly enough these colors began as the opposite. Red was considered a manly color because it mimicked the color of blood and blue was considered feminine as it mimicked the color of flowers.

There have always been small gender stereotypes that we have allowed but the big ones are the ones I want to address today.

Guy Land – is a great example of how far we have allowed boys to fall within our society. Back when America was first being settled men were younger and more mature. They had to be. Now it is considered acceptable for men to stay in the mindset of drinking, partying, and having no responsibilities for a longer period of time. Many people love to watch the movie “Failure to Launch”. The reality is that it simply sums up what our society tolerates and calls “Men”. Like wise it’s become acceptable for people to say that if you cry, if you show any emotion besides anger, you are not a man – you are weak. However if you are a woman and you show anything like this – you are considered to be nothing more than a bitch.

It’s interesting to me how it is easier for men to get promotions, respect, and others never question their emotions in a situation or decision.

If you have ever heard the song “The Man” by Taylor Swift – you will understand what I mean. While I know society is changing and things are becoming better for women in the workforce, they are still very much opposed to women being in power. This song does a great job pointing out the differences between men and women.

Within our society it is thought that women are weaker due to being more emotional, though in all fairness i’m not sure that’s true. Society tells men to bottle their emotions – to be emotionally constipated. While a man might be considered being “strong and manly” by his friends for that, it makes it harder for women to relate to him. Yes there are times where it is nice, but lets be honest, people need relationships – they need to emotionally connect with each other. I’ve copied the lyrics for “The Man” by Taylor Swift and put them down below.

“I would be complex
I would be cool
They’d say I played the field before
I found someone to commit to
And that would be okay
For me to do
Every conquest I had made
Would make me more of a boss to you
I’d be a fearless leader
I’d be an alpha type
When everyone believes ya
What’s that like?
I’m so sick of running
As fast as I can
Wondering if I’d get there quicker
If I was a man
And I’m so sick of them
Coming at me again
‘Cause if I was a man
Then I’d be the man
I’d be the man
I’d be the man
They’d say I hustled
Put in the work
They wouldn’t shake their heads
And question how much of this I deserve
What I was wearing, if I was rude
Could all be separated from my good ideas and power moves
And we would toast to me, oh, let the players play
I’d be just like Leo, in Saint-Tropez
I’m so sick of running
As fast as I can
Wondering if I’d get there quicker
If I was a man
And I’m so sick of them
Coming at me again
‘Cause if I was a man
Then I’d be the man
I’d be the man
I’d be the man
What’s it like to brag about raking in dollars
And getting bitches and models?
And it’s all good if you’re bad
And it’s okay if you’re mad
If I was out flashin’ my dollas
I’d be a bitch, not a baller
They’d paint me out to be bad
So it’s okay that I’m mad”
The Man by Taylor Swift
Here’s my total ending – we all have stereotypes that are residual in our minds due to the way we have been raised. Society permeates everything. If you take anything away from this, learn to ask questions for why you do what you do and why you think what you think.
As Always – I would love to hear your feedback!

Daily Life · Hygge · School tips · Work

5 of The Best Ways to De-Stress

It seems like stress is always surrounding us. I’m not sure about my readers but I always go through a phase where every so many weeks – I feel more stressed than I should. Yesterday was that day. What happens is that I feel overwhelmed, over burdened, and generically insane. I get cranky and end up biting off my husbands head. In short – I become the “Queen Of Hearts”. Inevitably in this cycle of crazy – the next phase to follow is me de-stressing. I’ve found a five ways to do that and that’s what I’m going to share with you today.

 

Hygge- 

If you are familiar at all with this term than you will know it is made for relaxation. I come from a state which tends to be cold 6 months out of the year. For me – this practice is more nostalgic than anything. There is something very relaxing about curling up in a fluffy blanket with a cup of something hot in hand. I also recommend a book – something that you don’t need to think about.

Baking – 

For me baking is an outlet. I find that I need to be able to create something that I can control in order to feel relaxed. It’s like finding a hobby. Everyone should have at least 1 and for me – it’s baking. I enjoy food, and I enjoy creating it. (PS – Check out my baking business at http://www.sweetstoriesbakery.wordpress.com )

Exercise –

While I don’t particularly love exercise, I do find that I enjoy the endorphin release it gives me. I have found that with exercising it allows my body to expell all the negative energy it has and it allows me to focus on what’s at hand. It also helps me to remove all the thoughts in my head and become more at peace. The days that I haven’t been super stressed out – I will do yoga. The days where it’s been harder I tend to do more spinning, running, or kick boxing. I find that this allows me to keep the peaceful feeling flowing when I’m having a good day and to expell all the anger and resentment I may be harboring on the other days.

Candles and a Hot Bath – 

Hot baths can do wonders for the body and soul. I highly recommend this one especially before bed. I have found that a hot bath with a soothing candle can create an atmosphere of peace where one can feel completely rested. This allows the mind to relax and the body to let go of any stress. If you are like me – you come out ready for a nap.

Avoiding Social Media – 

To be honest – I’m rarely on twitter, instagram, or facebook. I find that they harbor so much negativity that my life is far less complicated or stressful when I’m not on them. I have also found, mainly because I manage a restaurant, that if I’m at home – I need to put my phone down. I also set it on silent so I can ignore any work messages until a certain time frame has passed. I will tell you that being on your phone 24/7 is unhealthy and creates a need for more drama than you can fill. It will cause your mind to never be able to shut down and really – not everyone’s issue needs to be ours. This is the one thing that my husband has to remind me of constantly and it’s the continual source of my frustration. I’m working on trying to put down my phone more often and I recommend you do the same.

 

Honestly,

It’s hard trying to de-stress. It’s hard trying to avoid certain habits that we have created and it’s hard starting new ones. I’m not much for exercising but I have found I need the outlet. I’m always attached to my phone – and I have found I need to put it down. If you have tips and tricks that you find help you de-stress I would love to hear about them. Everyone is different and so each item is going to suit people differently. Please feel free to share your thoughts below.

Work

9 Tips to Increase Your Performance as a Server

Previously I have discussed a few tips to increase server performance. While these still hold true – I’m going to expound on them. I work as a manager in the restaurant industry, these are based on things that I see my own staff doing or things I have discussed with them. Not only will these tips impress your manager but they are sure to impress your guests as well.

  1. Pay attention to the details –
    • Details are everything when you are serving a guest. They make the difference between having someone send something back to the kitchen or them loving the dish.
    • Attention to details encompasses knowing:
    • what ingredients the kitchen uses
    • checking your section for wobbling tables
    • making sure your station is filled and ready to go
    • doing your side-work properly so you set the next shift up for success
    • clearing the table when ready (this is not just the busser’s job)
  2. A great server Introduces themselves –
    • I had one of my servers recently tell me that they didn’t want to introduce themselves because it felt a bit much like working at Chili’s. I told them – You should introduce yourself because it gives a warm and welcoming feeling to your guests. This is the basis of starting a connection to up-selling.
    • When someone is standing overtop of you – you are already feeling a bit prickled ( you are uncomfortable because you are placed in a vulnerable position), the introduction makes you feel a bit more at ease.
  3. Smile –
    • Smiling does a lot. I’m not talking about looking like the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland but you do need to smile when you take care of people. It makes them feel important and that you are there to help them.
  4. Preferences, Sensitivities, and Allergies –
    • It seems like everyone has an allergy of some sort. I tell my servers when they introduce themselves always start with “Welcome to ____________, my name is Hannah. I’ll be taking care of you tonight. Are there any preferences, sensitivities, or allergies I need to be aware of?” This immediately sets the tone for guests. They know you, they can trust you, and you have attention to detail. I have seen an increase in my servers tips when they use this on tables vs when they don’t. To be clear – a preference is like a diet – the customer is adhering to it but will not have an allergic reaction, a sensitivity – they may have a minor reaction but it won’t be bad – they can handle cross-contaimination, an allergy – they cannot have any cross-contaimination – it will result in a severe allergic reaction. This needs to be stated on the ticket to the kitchen as well and the manager should be made aware.
  5. Know your menu –
    • Make sure that you as the server know the menu. You know what is going into the dishes, what the kitchen can change. Be aware of the time frame – if it’s a rush – the kitchen may not want to change it. Make sure you know the bar menu. If you are still learning that’s fine, always say “I’m not sure but let me check for you.” It tells them that you don’t know but you are willing to go the extra mile to find out.
  6. Mis en place –
    • I know I have mentioned it before but it bears mentioning again. ALWAYS make sure your table is prepped. This means dropping dessert spoons as soon as they order, dropping a bowl for those seafood shells, or getting a chiller set up for white wine. The bussers/runners don’t have time for it and it is your job as a server. These little things are again – attention to details that make the difference between you and other servers.
  7. Good Wine Service –
    • This is more important to me because I live and work in California. This means that almost everyone out here knows about wine and how it should be served. That being said – good wine service starts from the beginning. You should always show the label and the bottle (cupping the bottom with your hand) to the person who ordered. When they say it’s alright hold the bottom and cut below the lip. Place the trash in your apron (never on the table) – do not twist the bottle when you cut it and never hold it by the neck (even when you are removing the cork). Pour a taste for the person who ordered. When they give the nod – you can pour clockwise, ending with that same person. Place the bottle and the cork on the table (or in the chiller if it’s a white). If you are nervous about the whole process and they are quite – ask them questions that force long answers “Where are you from?” “How do you like the area?” etc. It forces them to talk and takes the pressure off you.
  8. Know How to Up-sell –
    • You don’t need to pressure anyone to buy anything, but you should know how to up-sell. If they buy two glasses of the same wine, say “I noticed you want two glasses of the same wine, would you be interested in a bottle?” When it comes to dessert – always drop the menu with a recommendation. “The Churros are my favorite – they are like eating a baby angel.” I know it sounds weird but it sticks with people. When you describe the food – describe it in such a way that it makes their mouth water. Use words like:
      • decadent
      • moist
      • full of spice
      • hints of _______
    • basically you need to act like you are a Food Network star describing the food. That’s how you sell it. People want to know what’s the best. The items that I eat all the time I say are “_______________ soul food” (Insert whatever cultural restaurant you work for – example “Mexican Soul Food”) People know terms like that and they love hearing it.
    • You eat first with your ears, then your eyes, finally you eat with your mouth.
  9. Check the Food-
    • Make sure when the food comes out it is up to their liking. As soon as it’s dropped “Everything looks ok?” and after two bites “How is it tasting?” These prevent a guest from sitting there waiting like an idiot for the server to come back, just to say it was bad.
    • If they order a steak always – ALWAYS – ask them to cut into it to make sure the temperature is correct. Wait until they have done so and it is good before you walk away.

The reality is small things like these, which might seem large at the moment, make all the difference to your guests. They are bread and butter of a servers life. These will make your guests happier – they are more likely to return to you and that restaurant, they will increase your tips, and they will increase your standing with your manager.

Remember Good service isn’t an accident – Good service is on purpose.

Have tips or tricks? Please Share! 

 

Uncategorized · Work

How To Succeed At Your Job As A Server

I’ve been working in the restaurant again. Having left and now being back, I can honestly say that I have noticed differences between the servers who make good tips and those who make average. I’m cross training as a bartender and it’s really given me the opportunity to watch the servers and notice what they do right and wrong.

3 things to do to make you a better server:

  1. Really study the Menu – both food and drink. When a customer asks you a question about the menu – make sure you know the answer. There is nothing more frustrating as a customer to have to repeat the question about 2 -3 times to another person or have someone say “uhhh I don’t know”.
  2. 3 words: “Mise en place”. This means “everything in its place”. When you work in the restaurant – make sure you actually put things into their place or prep the table prior to running their food. I sat two days ago in a restaurant for 10 minutes before I received utensils for eating (after my food arrived). It’s embarrassing to work in a restaurant and run food to a table that isn’t ready and it’s embarrassing to have to ask for utensils for food.
  3. Stop asking other servers to talk to your table. I honestly get asked at least 2 times a shift to talk to a table to clarify requests for food or drinks. I also get asked to help with the computer. Please make sure you know what you are doing.

These are three simple tips that will help you manage your time and perform at your utmost. Simple steps and phrases like “proper prior planning prevents a piss poor performance” will help you in the long run.

Daily Life · Family · Relationships · Work

Loving the Unlovable

I apologize for not writing more this week – It as been a long one filled with turmoil and a lot of Illness filling our home. That being said – I have been praying and asking God to show me what to write about. He really brought to mind for me all the people I have had in my life, specifically the difficult ones.

If there is one thing in life that is always guaranteed it’s that you will always have at least 1 difficult person in your life. I like to thing of them as the sand paper of life. God places them there to teach you something and smooth out your rough edges. With it being right on the holidays, I really felt that it was needed to talk about how to deal with the difficult people in life.

Look – When it comes to dealing with people it’s easy to deal with the nice people. The people who are good to you – it’s easy to be good to them. It’s hard to be nice to difficult people. And I’m not talking about putting up a phony front about being nice then going behind the their backs and talking about them (again – this has taken me years to learn and I’m still imperfect, so please don’t think I’m saying this from a “I can do it already” vantage point).

God calls us to love one another. Not just the people we do like but to love everyone. In Fact in Matthew 5 he gives a direct command “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”. We are called to do this because even unbelievers can love people who are their friends. But it shows God’s love when we can love someone. We are called to be Salt of the earth, Lights of the world. How can we do this – simple – love those who hate us.

Ok so here’s the thing – It’s hard to love that boss you have that is just really pushy and short with you. The one who rides you into the ground daily. It’s hard to deal with that girl who calls you and is always complaining. That coworker who can’t show up for work because she is “sick” then posts pictures on instagram of her going drinking with her boyfriend/girlfriends. It’s hard to forgive the man or woman who wronged you. Your ex who told you he wanted a divorce. Your husband who said something hurtful today, that you just can’t seem to let go of. I have been through all of that. It never gets easier but I have learned how to forgive these people. I have learned what helps me to start thinking of them as needing love not hate, anger, or resentment.

Here’s what I do:

  1. pray for them. I pray. I pray for them daily. If you are like me you have a prayer journal and their name is written 3 times minimum. I pray for them to become closer to God and for him to make them into the person he wants them to be. Here’s the thing – When you pray for them, it may not change the situation. It may not even change them. But it will change you. Every time God tells us to turn the other cheek, to love our enemies – he follows it with “pray for them”. Even Christ did this as he was on the cross – he said “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do”. Pray with a humble heart for the Lord to touch their lives in a miraculous way.
  2. I buy them a gift. Now this works in situations where you will see them at work daily but not in all situations. Typically I just buy them a coffee or a latte and bring it to them with a note like “your daily cup of joy”. This sounds stupid but most of the time it just lets the person know you are thinking of them. Something that small like a can of coke or cup of coffee can make their day that much better. Plus – it marks the first tangible step of forgiveness and attempt at unconditional love for me. Several of the people who have been the most difficult in my life – we now keep in touch and while we may never be best friends, I do count them as real friends.
  3. Realize that they may not change. The behavior they have – sometimes it will change. I have had an experience where it has changed but I have also had experiences where it hasn’t. I still pray for these people even though I don’t have any interaction with them. And I still send them small gifts when I can. But I also realize – their behavior might not change and it’s important to come to terms with that. But my reactions to their behaviors have.

Jesus Died for everyone. Not just for the righteous. He forgave Judas – a man who sent him to his death. One of the most interesting teachings is the Lords Prayer:

“Our Father in Heaven,

Hallowed be your name.

Your kingdom Come,

Your will be done,

On earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,

and forgive us our debts,

as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil. ”

I just want to rest on the idea of God forgiving us our debts – think of ever sin you have ever committed (if you haven’t committed many – kudos to you but you are wrong; and if you are like me – I get it.). He forgives all of those. Every single sin that popped into your head – it’s already forgiven. Isn’t that incredible!? How could we do any less. I would like to point out that if you can’t forgive the next verse tells us that we will not be forgiven by the Father. Without forgiveness we can’t have unity as a body of believers. Without forgiveness we can’t have unconditional love. And without forgiveness – we can’t see people change or come to Christ.

It’s time to stop letting the people who are hurting influence our behavior. It’s time to be Salt of the earth and Lights to the world. It’s time to turn the other cheek. “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:44