May 10, 1998. Mother’s Day. One of the most beloved dates in the calendar year, as we honor the person who birthed and raised us unselfishly. For restaurants, Mother’s Day takes special meaning because of the extra rings generated by the cash register. We had just launched our restaurant a week earlier and truth be told, we were not confident in our capability to manage consistently large orders of food. It would have special meaning for me, as I would come to revisit how the employment hiring process works.
By 12:15 pm, we hung a wait-to-be-seated sign. By 12:30 pm, all hell broke loose.
Sometime after 1:00 pm, when the second surge of customers was coming in, one of my service crew went up to me as I was preparing what seemed like a hundred burgers. She said a customer was requesting to talk to the owner of the establishment “right now.”
I told my crew to advise the customer that I would meet with her once the kitchen was stable. A few minutes later, the service crew came back and said the customer was threatening to “create a scene” and put me out of business because she was a member of media.
I begrudgingly stepped out of the grill and trusted my grill men to manage the station for a few minutes. The few minutes seemed like hours. The woman, who was in her mid-thirties, basically gave me a dressing down. She ran a litany of the “do’s and don’ts” in the restaurant business and demanded I address the backlog of orders immediately and without fail.
I respectfully advised her that I have taken note of her advice, but I need to go back to the grill to normalize the flow of operations. She would not let me go and insisted that I apologize to everyone and offer refunds. I politely said, “No. What I need to do right now is work.”
The day after, I kept myself to the store’s office trying to figure out where operations went wrong. Shortly after lunch, one of my service crew informed me that the lady who dressed me down was in the store and wanted to talk to me again. I reluctantly met her, as I was quite confounded at what she could possibly want to talk about this time.
She presented herself as an “experienced restaurant manager,” not a media personality, and she offered her services to my restaurant as its new manager. With a smile, she forwarded her newly updated curriculum vitae.
I don’t know how many demons I fought from possessing my body at the time, but it took superhuman effort to keep in mind that my parents raised me to be a gentleman and respectful to everyone, especially to women.
But I had to sternly “advise” her that what she did yesterday—pulling me out of the grill—was irresponsible and thoughtless for an “experienced restaurant manager.” She used it as a forum to highlight her capabilities at the expense of the business and the customers.
I told her not to waste her CV on me because I would not hire her even as the store’s in-house security guard.
Employee Hiring Process: 5 Rules
Rule No.1: You can make opportunities happen; but don’t force them
The lady in my narrative must have been inspired by the “Muscles from Brussels” Jean Claude Van Damme, who according to film lore stepped inside the head office of Golan Globus and did his famous helicopter kick in front of its founder, Menahem Golan, in order to land the star-making role in Bloodsport.
The employee hiring process is exactly what it is: a process. There is a sequence of events that should be observed and respected. What she should have done was to wait for operations to normalize and then send a word to one of the managers that she would want to speak with me whenever I would be available. That would have been the professional thing to do, and we would have had a productive discussion over a cup of coffee. I may even have hired her as a manager or a consultant at the very least. She saw the opportunity and seized it by the neck instead of holding it by the hand.