Martyrdom is only pretty in paintings

I wrote the following a while back as part of a much bigger project.  After yielding to the advice of everyone who read it, it ended up on the cutting room floor.  I picked it up off the floor and decided to share it here.  This is something most servers struggle with at some point.  It is something that has cost me several jobs over the years.  This is a realistic look at what happens when changes come that you do not agree with.  You cannot avoid change, but you can decide how you deal with it,

The Unemployed Martyr


Nearly every culture from the beginning of time has had myths around the concept of martyrdom.  The humble knight slaying the mighty dragon to save the villagers.   The cowboy fighting for justice who was outnumbered by outlaws.  The futuristic space commander fighting to save the universe from the dark overlord.  Cultures have always built up those who take on seemingly insurmountable challenges at great personal risk for a cause larger than themselves.  In stories you call them heroes.  In restaurants you call them unemployed.

While the notion of martyrdom and fighting the good fight is romantic, it is seldom profitable for an employee.  Changes will occur at your restaurant without your input and be beyond your control.  Humans are not built to embrace change right away.  While your first instinct may be to fight changes that are forced upon you, it is not usually your best response.  Fight your romantic notions of martyrdom and look for better ways of dealing with the situation.

Here are some good tips on addressing change at your restaurant

Don’t Kill the Messenger:  When management introduces a new policy, too often it is assumed it is their idea.  Often the idea comes from a corporate office hundreds or thousands of miles away.  The manager’s job is to introduce it whether they like it or not.  Yelling at a manager with no control over the decision does not get the policy changed, but will make it less likely that they give you any leniency.

Look for the Win/Win/Win: If you can address the source of the new policy, you must look at it from their perspective.  A manager has to look out for three groups: the shareholders, the guests, and the staff.  In order for you to propose an idea you have to be able to make it better for all three groups.  Unless you find a alternative that is better for all three, you do not have the argument to change their mind.

Wait and See: You must understand that your first instinct is to resist change.  That is natural and part of being human.  This may be altering your perception of the change.  Give the change a try and see what happens before you react.  If the change is truly as horrible as you think it is, then it probably won’t last long.  Mistakes can often be rectified during the two weeks of your notice.  The harder you fight it, the more likely the management team is to stick to their guns to reiterate their authority.  Time has a way of correcting bad decisions if you let it.

You Have a Choice: Once you have addressed all of the ideas above, then you have a choice to make.  You only have to live with the change as long as the restaurant employs you.  You do have the choice to leave and seek another job.  This decision should not be made in haste or anger.  Weigh your options and consider your decision wisely.

The restaurant business does not spawn heroes’ tales, but it does create martyrs.  You have the choice at all times to leave in the face of changes, but you have to remember you are an employee.  No matter how great of an employee you are, you are still expendable.  The restaurant will not close its’ doors without you there and will seldom change to fit your needs.  Make decisions based on what is right for you and not some romantic notion of fighting the system.  When you try to be a hero, you often end up unemployed instead.

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