Merge's Blog

High employee turnover – a possible reason (a leadership lesson from Kitchen Nightmares)

BouzaglosOn May 10, the reality TV show Kitchen Nightmares aired its last episode of the season, but it was the first time in the show’s history that its host, noted chef Gordon Ramsay, was unable to help turn around a struggling restaurant. If you haven’t heard about the “crash and burn” of Samy and Amy Bouzaglo of Amy’s Baking Company in Scottsdale, Arizona, then you must have been hibernating in a cave somewhere! But just in case you were, here’s a synopsis:

After the couple’s behaviour and finger-pointing proved too much for even Gordon Ramsay to overcome, he walked off the program saying: “After about 100 Kitchen Nightmares, I met two owners I could not help; it is because they are incapable of listening.” Some of the more unforgettable moments on the show – the couple pocketed all the tips that were earmarked for the waitstaff, admitted to firing more than 100 people over a period of one year, served pre-made frozen ravioli as “fresh, made daily”, and my most memorable: picked a fight with a customer who’d been waiting for his pizza for over an hour and then threatened to call the police if he did not pay for his (still not received) pizza before he left. And once the episode had aired, the couple went certifiably insane when it started responding to comments posted on their social media accounts, insulting people and using profanity.

You can watch the entire 41 minute episode below if you’ve got some time. Seriously, I recommend this highly if you’re looking for classic examples of what NOT to do! Fair warning: there are a LOT of censored bleep in this show; and (surprisingly for those of you who are familiar with Gordon Ramsey) most of them don’t come from the host, they come from the Bouzaglos.

A lot has been said in the last month about everything this couple did/is doing wrong in just about every arena – running a business, participating in social media, dealing with customers and staff – but in today’s and the next edition of the blog, I want to address two specific things that I think are of particular relevance to leaders everywhere.

First, this restaurant had incredibly high turnover. By Amy Bouzaglo’s own admission, they fired more than 100 people in a year. Here’s something to consider:

When your employee turnover is that high, maybe it’s not the staff, maybe it’s you!

Just sayin’!

It’s very hard to look within for flaws, but as leaders, it’s important to be able to stand back from emotional situations and ask ourselves whether we are contributing (or even causing) the problem.

In next Monday’s blog post, I’ll talk about one more thing that struck me as being particularly pertinent for leaders to learn from – specifically this couple’s inability to communicate with one another. But in the meantime, I’m curious to know what you thought of this episode – were there any other lessons in leadership?  Please add your thoughts to the Comment link below.

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