The last time we went out of town I left one of my part time guys in charge of the kitchen Monday and Tuesday. He's Mayan, related to two other guys who work for us and is also the sous chef of the area's most well-known restaurant.
When I returned the kitchen looked better than it ever had after an absence. Usually there are a dozen little things to irritate me but this time it was completely clean, well-organized and well-prepped. I left a note on the board to this effect, not singly him out by name but anyone reading between the lines could get what I was saying. Except of course my current sous chef who tried to take credit , saying something like," yeah I tried to keep the place together as much as I could. It's hard sometimes though."
I'm not paying my part-timer that much and last week I told him I needed to give him a raise. He said "Why?" I told him because he was doing a good job and I wanted to acknowledge that. "I'm happy with the money I'm making. You let me go to Mexico and gave me a job when I came back. It's slow right now and you're not making much money." I then told him I really appreciated what he did while we were gone and that I knew he was happy at his other gig but if he ever wasn't I'd like to offer him the sous job.
He told me the waiters let him know how much they appreciated working with him rather than the sous and we talked about the problems I have with him. We talked about switching days around so the Mayan was in charge rather than the Republican. I still don't have resolution in sight but now I know I have a person to rely on when we need to go out of town or if I need a little more time off.
Why don't I get rid of the Republican? Because he never does anything terrible enough for firing. Yes, CA is an at will employment state and I suppose I could just say I don't like you, leave. But I'm personally uncomfortable with that. Unfortunately at this point I'm paying a sous chef wage and getting a line cook and an uninspired line cook at that.