Restaurant Management: Letting the Well-Liked Go


We don’t have to tell you — restaurant management isn’t easy. One of the hardest tasks for restaurant managers is firing employees, especially when they’re a well-liked member of your team.

Ease the Blow and Move On

Everybody loves Katie, but you had to let her go. And nobody is taking it well. What do you do to ease the blow? Firing employees is never easy, but sometimes it has to be done for the good of the team. Unfortunately, though, the team won’t always see it that way. What do you do to ease the blow?

Be honest. Katie didn’t quit. Katie didn’t think she needed a break. The fact is that you let her go and everyone knows that. By implying anything differently, you’ll lose credibility with your team. Instead, tell your team: “It was a difficult decision, but we felt that this operation was not the best place for Katie.”

Be somewhat vague. Maybe Katie was getting high in the second stall of the bathroom. Maybe she stole 50 steaks from the walk-in cooler. Or maybe she couldn’t keep her hands off the busboy. Even if you have every legitimate reason to let Katie go, if you are too specific about the reason for termination to her co-workers, you leave yourself vulnerable for legal action. Slander is a slippery slope you don’t want to slide down… by making her “unemployable” with your comments, you set yourself up for a steep lawsuit. Instead, tell inquiring team members that it is a private matter between you and the former employee. If you’re pushed for a reason, take the high road: “I’m sure that if you were in Katie’s position, you would also appreciate my discretion.”

Be open. You know that Katie will be missed by her co-workers, so don’t sugar-coat it. Tell your team members you know working without Katie will be a difficult transition. Ask them how you can ease their transition and listen without judgment… if someone wants to tell you how great she was, don’t interrupt to point out her flaws. Instead, tell the team member, “I really value you as an employee and I hope you’ll let me know how I can help you through this.”

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