Did This Manager Lose Their Mind?  Or Were They Only Saying What So Many Managers Think…But Don’t Say?

This story starts on December 6 when a Reddit user posted something on the r/antiwork subreddit.

For those who aren’t familiar with Reddit and its r/antiwork subreddit – that would include me – according to this article:

“…r/antiwork is a subreddit that’s become a place for people to talk about their dissatisfaction with working conditions and their negative experiences.  In 2021, the subreddit grew to more than 900,000 followers (which the site calls ‘idlers’) and now boasts more than 1.8 million.” 

Here’s the intro to that December 6 post:

What this led to was a news story that, when I googled it, brought me millions of results on December 13 and read like a who’s who in the national and international media world:  CBS, NBC, Fox, the Guardian, the Washington Post, the Washington Examiner, The Hill, Fortune, the New York Post, MarketWatch, Business Insider, the Today Show and many others.

And as I started reading the stories, I found myself feeling sympathy, and empathy, for the people getting all this attention.

The central figure is unidentified, and the articles refer to the person as the “manager” and “they,” so I’ll do likewise.

The story starts at an Olive Garden Restaurant in Overland Park, near Kansas City, KS.

The manager sent a mass email to the team members.  The email, variously referred to as a “rant,” a “tirade,” and a “diatribe” was about employees who had apparently repeatedly “called off” with various excuses for why they were unable to show up for work.

As you read the manager’s email, it doesn’t take a psychologist to see that the manager was angry.  Enraged.  Seething with frustration.

Here’s the local media outlet that broke the story:

The article included the rant/tirade/diatribe in full.

And yes, the “dog” part in the headline is an excerpt from the email.  Here’s how it starts:

“Our call offs are occurring at a staggering rate.  From now on, if you call off, you might as well go out and look for another job.  We are no longer tolerating ANY excuse for calling off.  If you’re sick, you need to come prove it to us.  If your dog died, you need to bring him in and prove it to us.  If its a ‘family emergency’ and you can’t say, too bad.  Go to work somewhere else.”

Is the manager angry, enraged, and seething with frustration?

Oh, yeah.

And this is where my sympathy and empathy kicked in:

I’ve been on both sides of this – as a team member and in management.

I’m a Team Member

I’m sick and I’m not going to work.  First, because I feel too rotten to get out of bed.  And second, because I don’t want to come into work and spread whatever I’ve got.

And in our current “tridemic” of COVID, the flu and RSV, any sane manager would agree I should stay home.

And if I call in sick and I’m not actually sick, well – I’ll call it a “mental health day,” or something like that.  (Everyone does this.  Well, practically everyone.)

I’m a Manager

Any absence – of even just one person – puts a burden on the entire team, including me.  They and I will have to do our jobs and pick up the duties of the absent person.  This increases the stress level, and when the business is a restaurant and the restaurant is busy, the stress level goes way up.  Orders get botched, food gets cold, customers don’t tip and may not return.

And if an employee is “calling off” – calling in sick – multiple times and/or multiple employees are calling off, that restaurant’s day could be a disaster.

As a manager, I’ve had it.  Enough is enough.  I know these people aren’t sick.  This is…

So…

The manager’s email – two paragraphs and more than 300 words – includes multiple invitations to unhappy employees to find work elsewhere. 

As a manager, on more than one occasion I’ve felt like saying the same.

The Olive Garden’s manager’s email cites themself as an example – how they’ve never called in sick in their “11.5 years” with the company; how they came to work after being in a wreck that totaled their car; and how, at night, they’d “rather be home with my husband and dog, going to the movies or seeing family.  But I don’t, I’m dedicated to being here.”

I suspect this manager had reached their limit of one too many staff calling off one too many times.  So they grabbed their phone or sat down at their computer and dashed off the email – whatever thoughts came into their head.

Including that part of about bringing in the dead dog.

Did the manager pause and think twice before hitting “Send”?

Was the satisfaction of writing and sending that email worth losing their job?

Did the manager regret the email after they were fired?

Would Olive Garden have fired the manager if this story had not gone viral?

The manager was fired…

“A spokeswoman for Darden restaurants, which owns Olive Garden, confirmed to The Washington Post that the missive had been sent to employees and said that the ‘restaurant fired the manager after learning about it.

“‘We strive to provide a caring and respectful work environment for our team members.  This message is not aligned with our company’s values,’ read a statement from the company.  ‘We have parted ways with this manager.’”

Now I’ve got my team member hat back on, and I’m rolling my eyes about that “caring and respectful work environment for our team members.”

Yeah, sure.  What a bunch of…

So, the restaurant manager and Olive Garden have “parted ways.”

The team members will get a new manager who may be great – or far worse than the one they had.

Life will go on, including at the Olive Garden Restaurant in Overland Park, near Kansas City, KS.

And as for me…

I’ve learned a new phrase:

“Recreational Ranting”

Gosh – I’ve been doing that since I started this blog!

Judges, how am I doing?

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