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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Oh, please... this is the worst advice on this thread yet. First of all, you should NEVER, EVER fire someone in front of other employees, it just brings you to their level and makes you look childish and unprofessional.

Secondly, while the issue is serious (I'm not stating or debating that) it is NOT stealing. Taking money from the register is stealing. Putting a baked good in your stomach without paying is stealing. Walking out the door early on a night when it was obviously slow enough that the shop should have been closed anyway (if you can sucessfully close a shop completely while it is still open that's a sign of a wasted hour of operation) is not the same. I agree that it's a serious issue, that trust is now a big problem and that some customers may be upset, but it is not stealing and I repeat there is NEVER a reason to fire in front of other people.

If I ever caught one of my managers firing somone in front of or in earshot of another employee, they would be fired themselves.

-bry

Jason Shipley said:
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.
Maybe you were just making a point but this is heavy handed and vindictive. There is no need for that kind of bullishness. A really good employee manager would not have this issue in the first place and a good portion of the blame in this situation does fall on the shop owner (Stephanie in this case, which she already recognises) for not having an employee handbook or some sort of hard and fast rules for running the shop.

Any discipline should start with a private conversation with the employee. In this case I think the conversation should have started almost a month ago with her first and second late arrival. The employees behavior seems to be degrading and this is generally indicative of a problem that likely has nothing to do with their job or anyone at the shop.

I did some training at a company that had a list of muses and graces for their employees and managers to follow. It was a good list of qualities but it lacked compassion, it was my firm belief that without that one attribute to temper the rest, the entire system was pretty useless in the long run.

If you temper your "Firmness" with "Compassion" your results will be much better.

Jason Shipley said:
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.
Completely agree, any and all disciplinary discussions should be strictly in private. OTOH, praises can be public.
Public praise can also help to motivate. Not always, but I've seen many employees pick up their performance after being told that they're doing a good job. I've also asked people to help me do my job by doing their job a different way, and it usually works. Basically, what I'm telling them is that they are doing a crappy job and I'm having to redo their work; but, I'm wording it so that it doesn't come across as a put down.
Yes, being positive and creating a positive work place is in our mission. I did fire an employee once in front of other employees, mostly because i was busy baking and needed to tell her before she clocked in. We then walked upstairs and talked more about the situation. After doing it, I completely recognized it was the wrong thing to do, and made a special point to apologize to the employees that witnessed it, telling them it will never happen again. Sometimes, reprimanding does need to be done on the spot, and I am very careful to do so as discretely as possible.
I am going to have to disagree with you on this one Bryan. It is stealing. Because you have no way of knowing the future, as none of us do, you have no way of knowing what the business might have been. I can't count how many times I was closing up shop, and had a huge burst of customers in the last 45 minutes, heck, last 5 minutes! And if it was really that slow, that money would have made a positive difference. So, in that I disagree.

I do NOT advocate dealing with employee problems in front of others. It's just not professional on any level. I think the best thing to do is have policies, have a way of enforcing them, making sure they're enforced, and enforcing them when necessary. So it's fair across the board, everyone has the same understanding and expectations, and no one can say, "I didn't know that." Again, sometimes it's a challenge to make our coffee workplaces, which are normally alot more laid back, more professional, and we may not want it to seem that way, but in the case of these situations, it just makes sense.

Bryan Wray said:
Oh, please... this is the worst advice on this thread yet. First of all, you should NEVER, EVER fire someone in front of other employees, it just brings you to their level and makes you look childish and unprofessional.

Secondly, while the issue is serious (I'm not stating or debating that) it is NOT stealing. Taking money from the register is stealing. Putting a baked good in your stomach without paying is stealing. Walking out the door early on a night when it was obviously slow enough that the shop should have been closed anyway (if you can sucessfully close a shop completely while it is still open that's a sign of a wasted hour of operation) is not the same. I agree that it's a serious issue, that trust is now a big problem and that some customers may be upset, but it is not stealing and I repeat there is NEVER a reason to fire in front of other people.

If I ever caught one of my managers firing somone in front of or in earshot of another employee, they would be fired themselves.

-bry

Jason Shipley said:
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.
I guess what I'm saying (which, really, I already said well enough that I should probably just leave it alone, but when have I ever done that before) is that if we can't predict the future, I feel like we are handing out a guilty verdict without evidence which is not fair to the employee.

Closing up shop early certainly could have cost Stephanie nearly $100 or so (in my random figure estimation), but it also could have saved her money if no one would have come in.

To have to tell the employee as you were firing them (because in my handbook stealing is one and done, no warnings) that, "It's like stealing. We can't be sure that we missed out on customers, but we'll just never know and that isn't okay, so you're out" would just seem like a week argument to me.

Eh, I dunno... maybe it's just me.

-bry
The problem with closing early is NOT just that days potential lost gross income which well may have been zilch. It's potentially much worse than that. Say a daily regular of many years stops by a half hour before the Posted Scheduled Close Time and the place is closed. Now lets say it happens again (or not, irrelevant). Now said regular is ticked and quits coming in for good. This daily regular once spent $100 to $200 PER MONTH and now spends nothing. Over $1000 lost annually. Now they tell a friend who was also a regular and they stop coming in too. Another Grand down the drain. And then tells another friend ad infinitum. Word of mouth is the most powerful form of advertising, be it good or bad tales being told. And bad things get said far more frequently than good....just read any Newspaper.

Bryan Wray said:
I guess what I'm saying (which, really, I already said well enough that I should probably just leave it alone, but when have I ever done that before) is that if we can't predict the future, I feel like we are handing out a guilty verdict without evidence which is not fair to the employee.

Closing up shop early certainly could have cost Stephanie nearly $100 or so (in my random figure estimation), but it also could have saved her money if no one would have come in.

To have to tell the employee as you were firing them (because in my handbook stealing is one and done, no warnings) that, "It's like stealing. We can't be sure that we missed out on customers, but we'll just never know and that isn't okay, so you're out" would just seem like a week argument to me.

Eh, I dunno... maybe it's just me.

-bry
This is not theft.

It is almost always a bad idea, and may well cause significant loss of future income, but it is not theft. Theft is consciously taking money out of your till and pocketing it. Closing early is at worst laziness and negligence. Lets keep some perspective, eh?

Don't believe me? Call the police and try to have your employee charged with closing early.
I guess it would sound like this:

Police: "Ok, Miss...uh, er 'Barista", up against the Expresso Machine, yur under arrest for Closing Early!"

:-D

Brady said:
This is not theft.

It is almost always a bad idea, and may well cause significant loss of future income, but it is not theft. Theft is consciously taking money out of your till and pocketing it. Closing early is at worst laziness and negligence. Lets keep some perspective, eh?

Don't believe me? Call the police and try to have your employee charged with closing early.
Just a quick comment some things should not have to be spelled out the door say we close at a certian time that is the time that you close. Unless of course you are the owner and can make these descision. As a owner i don't say to my employee that time on the door is only if we are busy if not do what you want. I took over a shop that the owner was not their and to save money he would call the employeees and ask how many customers have you had in the last hour the employees learned to give a low number is they wanted to go home. This took months of sitting in my coffee shop till 9 with out a soul coming in before the community trused we would be open till the time on the door. Why did she not call the owner? Because she knew or should have known she would have been told no.
yes, I do agree it is not stealing. It's a managerial issue. She is not the manager, the owner, and as such does not have the power to make those decisions. She is, however, responsible for performing her duties as outlined in her job description, and making managerial decisions is not on her job description.

The end result is I was finally able to confront her, and it turned out that it WAS slow so she did decide to close early. I let her know that that was not her decision to make, and that we would put her on one week's probation, and if we decided to continue the relationship, I would not be able to trust her alone, and would therefore have to reduce her hours. It was simply the harsh reality that I needed to be strong. She ended up deciding to move on, which given some of the issues that seemed to be underlying her behavior (ie, she was mad at me), was probably the best solution.

The feedback on this post has been extremely interesting. Thanks to everybody for all your support!

PS, I just had somebody come in for their first day 15 minutes late, no phone call, so that was her first and last day. It's tough being so tough all the time when you care about your employees. If she would have called, it would have been fine. Too bad.

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