Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Building Bridges

Whenever someone leaves his employ, someone else reminds him not to "burn any bridges."  I know a man who not only never burned a bridge, he built new ones.

He was one of the top managers in one of the top restaurants in the country.  Arguably, he was more known than his establishment, which suited the partners just fine - he brought in the guests.  He was a difficult man to work for if you were the kind of person who didn't believe in high standards, excellence in performance, and professionalism.  I don't have his permission to use his name, so let's call him Mr. Manager.  I thought of him as Mr. Mentor, and I've tried ever since to live up to his example.

And one day he gave his two weeks notice.  For me it was a death in the family.  It seemed like the next logical step was to close the establishment and call it a day.  Of course, that didn't happen but for a time I didn't know how I'd go on.  I did; we all did.

After he gave his notice, some of the staff started to slack off a bit.  Missing corkscrews, smudged aprons, carrying fewer than 3 pens, forgotten garnishes, loosened ties...things that seem small but that really matter.  Really.  He put a stop to it right away.  One of the waiters complained that he should lighten up, since he only had a few days left.  "What do you care?" he asked.  "You're leaving."

"Just because I'm leaving doesn't mean this isn't a four-diamond establishment," he said, as he worked full out until the last minute.  "Smarten up."

After he was gone, for years, the staff would remind the slackers, very seriously, "just because (he's) gone, doesn't mean this isn't a four-diamond establishment."


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