i was just doing payroll and found that my barista closed the shop 45 minutes early last week without asking me. I have also looked back and found several other days when she clocked out right at closing, meaning she would have to close early to count the money, etc. I am going to approach her and ask why she closed early; however, it seems like no matter what her answer is, i will probably have to let her go. In my opinion, even if she cut her finger off and had to go to the hospital, it is her responsibility to let me know when she is changing "policy". my issue is I don't think I can trust her. Does this seem harsh?

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The hardest part of being a business owner is finding good people. Doesn't matter if you are running a cafe or running the country, you are always looking for good people.
When you think you have found one you have to nuture, coach and encourage. Sure, they will screw up sometimes.
If you give them the authority to make decisions, you cant go crook at them for making them.
If you dont like some of the decisions they make, you take them aside and explain why, and when that situation occurs again you explain to them why it will be done differently.
Leaders need opurtunity to stretch and grow, stumble and lurch.
I work on a three strike system.
But you must have seen some sort of spark, to have them on a close precedure, to begin with?
Most larger organizations have a formal disciplinary procedure - verbal warning, written warning, dismissal, or something similar. This comes into play in the case of most minor violations... theft, assault, and the like are a different case. Seems pretty reasonable to me.

Do you have an employee manual? Written policy on this? I'm guessing not. I would establish your stores policy for these kinds of matters and put it into play. Have a discussion with this employee and go from there. Then clearly communicate your store's policy on matter like this to the rest of the employees to make sure all are clear.

Good luck.
If your policy is not to close early, and if your policy was clearly communicated to employees and if this is the first verifiable offense then I'd give a written warning letting them know if it happens again it'll be the last time, as in let go.

My policy isn't just not closing early but also pre-closing does not include making it look like you're closed. No outside furniture taken inside until closing time hits etc.

I hate places that have posted hours then willy-nilly close early if it's slow. Case in point: had my shop open Labor Day short 5 posted hours. My barista called just over an hour before scheduled close and asked if she could close early because it was slow. I told her no. Ended up the last hour got much busier and matched at the register the first four hours open. If I would have caved and let her close early would have been a negative money day.
I always wonder why owners do not have cameras installed in their shops. Not only is it a deterrent for robberies and a protection for your employees but it is also a way you can look in on your shop via an internet feed. As long as you have an internet connection in your shop you can watch your shop from home or even from your smartphone.

I found that it works especially well for making sure your shop opens up on time.
Just echoing what others are saying: If it is a policy that has been put in place, and communication is open about not closing early, then yes, the person violated policy on numerous occasions and has to be let go. If this is not a communicated policy and something that you "just think would be obvious" then you cannot let the person go without a warning, IMO.

Perhaps the person was just trying to save you money? Sounds weird for an employee to think like this, but if the employee feels like they have ownership in the company (usually a good thing) then perhaps they were trying to save you some dough. Sit down and talk with the employee about it and make your policy clear. If the policy already was clear, then I think you know what you have to do.

Best thing I ever did was get a security camera system that allows me to see the whole coffeehouse on the Internet. I have cameras that the Baristas see and cameras they didn't know of (until recently). Security is cool now -- you can have cameras hidden in Exit signs and Stereo speakers! So when they don't think I'm watching, I call them to say Hi, and to "wave to the cameras"! :-D We've also caught shoplifters (of coffee) with the cameras -- and, I can print out the camera images!! A wise investment!!!
thanks so much. yes, i agree that even though it's obvious that an employee shouldn't close early without management approval, it really isn't fair that I let her go for making that executive decision on her own. what is clear to me is that I can no longer trust this employee, so the best thing to do is move her off of shifts where she is left alone.

i do, however, feel it is important to assert my leadership with some sort of punishment. she did violate one of our rules which is to communicate with their supervisor any issues which affect her ability to perform her job. she has also been late 4 times in the past month and she was supposed to be fired if she was late even once so the combination of the two will earn her one week off which i think is a fair way to handle the situation.

We do not have a manual, but we do have very clear simple written rules, I think I need to clarify what needs to be brought to my attention when i am away.
She closed your shop early which could have lost customers for you, yes she should be let go.
i'm completely against the whole "watching your baristas with a camera" thing. that's way too big-brother for me. if you aren't hiring people you can trust, don't hire them in the first place.
When you care about where you work it's not just a job. You want to make your employer money and educate your clients, giving the best experience possible. Closing early is lazy and inconsistent, I have seen it happen at so many places that I've worked. In managing the last couple of years I have always felt that if I let someone get away with something I am just hindering them and their work ethics. Once you've talked with her do what you feel like is right for the situation. Another thing I have come to find is that something can look extremely black and white to me and be completely different to someone else. You just have to go off you best judgement. But based off the information, there's no way I would keep someone on that was hurting my business.
Jared Rutledge said:
i'm completely against the whole "watching your baristas with a camera" thing. that's way too big-brother for me. if you aren't hiring people you can trust, don't hire them in the first place.

That kind of trust is WAY overrated. No one is that good at hiring and screening people.
Read your statement after your first year my friend and you'll be singing a different tune.

Fire her, do it in front of other employees and emphasize that closing early is the same thing as stealing she stole your opportunity to do business and may have cost you customers.

Jared Rutledge said:
i'm completely against the whole "watching your baristas with a camera" thing. that's way too big-brother for me. if you aren't hiring people you can trust, don't hire them in the first place.

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