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When is Enough, Enough?

I recently read a comment in a Restaurant Group forum that I subscribed to where someone asked how to handle a situation with an associate. One of their associates had resigned because they felt the work environment in the operation was too toxic for them to work in.

This individual went on to further explain that the associate who had resigned, was a hard-working employee and was part of the team for a few years, but had a history of loud unprofessional outburst and throwing things when the operation got busy. The other associates had their fill of this behavior and told the associate how they felt which led this individual to comment that the work environment was too toxic for them.

The restaurant owner had asked for suggestions on how to handle the situation and even recommended the possibility of transferring the associate to another one of their locations.

So when is enough, enough? When do you decide to remove a problem from your operation because of the negative impact on other associates or before the problem becomes a liability to the operation?

In a 2016 survey conducted by Weber Shandwick, ( 30% of the managers surveyed had commented that they have either fired or threatened to fire an associate due to incivility in the workplace. Approximately 25% of associates surveyed stated they had left a position due to a toxic workplace environment while 87% of those surveyed commented that workplace incivility has negatively impacted their work performance of their duties, (

When associates are negatively impacted by others at work, this leads to a decrease in productivity, loss of good associates, associates losing confidence in the company, and excessive callouts. All of this leads to a growing problem for the company, not to mention the potential of someone getting hurt due to flaring tempers.

When one associate act’s poorly in the workplace, this virus will quickly spread to others. If this bad behavior isn’t quickly managed, associates will lose faith in the management for their failure to properly deal with the situation. Additionally if left unchecked, this will begin to impact service and your guest.

“When you see a problem and fail to address it, you’ve not only set a new standard, but you’ve lowered mine.”

No one likes to fire associates, especially a good worker and one who has been with you for a few years. It is important to allow associates the opportunity to improve on their behavior and it’s our job as managers to coach these individuals to help them succeed.

But…..sooner than later, if the negative behavior continues and is now impacting the rest of the team, no matter how much of a Rockstar this associate may be, it’s probably for the best that you part ways or as I like to say, "Help them find other opportunities." The one thing I do not recommend is moving a problem and hoping that the situation will improve. As they say, a leopard can’t change its spots and a tiger can’t change its stripes.

We have a responsibility as managers and leaders to all of our associates to create and maintain a safe and positive work environment. When there is a problem that is not dealt with quickly and appropriately, this problem will continue to grow and lead to even greater challenges.

One of my favorite sayings that I share with my management team is, “When you see a problem and fail to address it, you’ve not only set a new standard, but you’ve lowered mine.”


Society for Human Resource Management (2017) Managing Difficult Employees and Disruptive Behaviors. Retrieved from,

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