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About breakfast at work

(658 Posts)
WishingILivedOnAnIsland Wed 10-Jul-19 09:22:13

Every day without fail one of our senior administrators comes in on time, gets herself settled, then spends 10 minutes in the kitchen constructing a complicated bowlful of breakfast. She takes the bowl to her desk and slowly eats in the open plan office until around 9:30am. She then signals the start of her work day by returning her bowl to the kitchen. Anyone who approaches her regarding work prior to The Bowl’s Return is met with a withering look and an ‘excuse me I am eating my breakfast’ as though they’ve walked into her own kitchen out of hours and demanded a favour.

I’m her manager and I’m starting to get complaints. Both about her commandeering an additional 30 odd minutes break, and also about the tart rebuke she gives anyone who dares interrupt her morning ritual.

Here’s the thing- I don’t really care that she does this as in every other way she is a sensational employee. She is a proud set-in-her-ways kind of person and wont respond well to negative feedback. It would be a disaster if she quit and we had to replace her with a mediocre employee whose only advantage is that they eat their breakfast at home.

So AIBU to let this breakfast nonsense play on? My colleagues seem to think so and are salty with me for my inaction thus far.

SylviaAndSidney Wed 10-Jul-19 09:26:03

I'd be mighty pissed off if I was her colleague. 30 minutes indeed, what if everyone downed tools waiting until she finished? And 30 minutes is also a ridiculously long time to be eating a bowl of cereal.

OddHoleySocks Wed 10-Jul-19 09:26:27

As long as you are happy if everyone else starts doing the same thing, it's fine.

MyOpinionIsValid Wed 10-Jul-19 09:26:42

You're the manager - tell her what her core working hours are, and tell her to eat before 9am - or introduce a no eating at desk policy.

Im going to be snippy, I cant stand managers who cant actually manage, they leave disaffected staff in their wake.

Mrstwiddle Wed 10-Jul-19 09:26:45

That would infuriate me as a colleague, especially if eating her breakfast involves the spoon hitting the bowl over and over again...I used to work with someone who spent a similar amount of time eating her breakfast very noisily, it’s a miracle she’s still alive ;)

Sirzy Wed 10-Jul-19 09:28:12

So is it ok for every other staff member to take an extra half hour when they fancy it?

You can’t have one rule for one and another for everyone else.

ShatnersWig Wed 10-Jul-19 09:29:10

You're a poor manager.

AnchorDownDeepBreath Wed 10-Jul-19 09:30:50

I used to eat breakfast at work - loads of us did. Probably a 50/50 split in the office. I can't eat before 8am. Difference being that I worked whilst eating, and if breakfast went mushy/cold, that was the risk I was taking. She needs to do the same. If she eats at work, she works too. If she wants a slow breakfast to wake up with no interruptions, she does that at home.

QuestionableMouse Wed 10-Jul-19 09:30:57

30 min lunch rather than an hour. Make it clear to everyone.

She is taking the piss!

edgeofheaven Wed 10-Jul-19 09:31:29

It would be a disaster if she quit and we had to replace her with a mediocre employee whose only advantage is that they eat their breakfast at home.

Seems extremely unlikely that she would quit over a conversation about her breakfast habits as what is the chance she'll find another job that will allow her a 30 minute break at the start of the day?

Tell her that her colleagues expect that if she's sat at her desk during working hours, then she's available to work. If she needs time to eat breakfast first can she come in a bit earlier? Because otherwise the rest of the team can't start their day at 9 as they're waiting on her for some items.

Geminijes Wed 10-Jul-19 09:31:51

So just because she's a good worker you, as her manager, are willing to give her an extra 30 mins break per day?

You really can't see why her colleagues are complaining about your lack of action towards her?

If you can't or don't want to mange then change jobs as you're not being fair to everyone only to some.

CassianAndor Wed 10-Jul-19 09:31:56

so is she meant to start at 9?

I understand your reluctance as she is otherwise a good worker but you can't allow one person half an hour our of their working day that no-one else has.

I would just say that you're happy for her to have breakfast at her desk (lots of places don't like that) but that she has to be ready to start work and deal with colleagues at 9.

I doubt she'd leave over that, the job market's hardly buoyant. And you need to consider the department as a whole and the resentment this is fostering.

GreyhoundzRool Wed 10-Jul-19 09:33:30

Your job isn’t just to keep this one “excellent “ member of staff happy, it’s to keep all of your staff happy. If you are getting complaints you need to act. You say you don’t want to lose this staff member, but would you be happy for everyone else to quit and then you have to spend time/money recruiting for their roles ? Ok unlikely they will all quit but you could lose a few which will be expensive and cause even more resentment.

Step up and manage - dealing with difficult situations and having difficult conversations is part of your job.

DoneLikeAKipper Wed 10-Jul-19 09:33:46

Is this a serious post? Of course you need to bloody tell her to stop using her work hours to have a leisurely breakfast! I wouldn’t accept that sort of attitude from my family in the mornings (the cuntish ‘don’t talk to me until I’ve drank my coffee’ type), never mind an employee who’s paid to be work-ready the moment they sit at their desk. Manage your staff properly for goodness sake.

ScreamingValenta Wed 10-Jul-19 09:34:26

I think you need to speak frankly with her and explain that it is causing resentment, and offer options to address it - could she adjust her start and finish times to be 30 minutes later, or could she take 30 minutes from her lunch break?

Do make sure you are on safe ground, though. If some of those complaining take breaks themselves - e.g. a smoking break - and this woman doesn't, she might argue that her 30 minutes in the morning is equivalent to other people's short breaks throughout the day. If that's the case you'll need to consider your stance on unofficial breaks as a whole.

mrsbyers Wed 10-Jul-19 09:35:02

Start asking her to do stuff for you at 9 , if she gives attitude then take her to one side and explain she has started work and while it's fine to eat breakfast it has to be while she is working. If this is an issue suggest she starts half an hour earlier

DoneLikeAKipper Wed 10-Jul-19 09:35:30

My colleagues seem to think so and are salty with me for my inaction thus far.

Re-reading this I suspect it’s a reverse. Managers surely don’t actually talk like this, do they?

SilverDapple Wed 10-Jul-19 09:35:33

Sounds as though her colleagues' complaints are quite justified, and being afraid of her reaction to feedback really isn't a good reason not to address it with her.

Iliketeaagain Wed 10-Jul-19 09:37:25

Is this a reverse? Because surely no manager would lack a basic level of awareness that you need to keep your whole team happy, not just your favourite?

If it's or a reverse, I hope she's brilliant enough to do everyone else's job when they leave because she's getting 2 1/2 hrs worth of paid break per week when they others are not.

And if she leaves, then best of luck to her - not many places would tolerate coming to work and having a paid break right at the beginning of the day.

VivienneHolt Wed 10-Jul-19 09:38:08

Could you give her a range of options and ask her to pick which one suits her? I.e. If she’s eating breakfast from 9-9.30 she only gets half an hour for lunch, or her working day officially starts at 9.30 but finishes at 5.30, or she comes in at 8.30 and has her breakfast before work.

Either way you can’t let it continue. It’s her job to be a good administrator, and it’s your job to stop her taking the piss and upsetting everyone else in her team.

MatchSetPoint Wed 10-Jul-19 09:39:35

AS long as she’s getting all her work done does it really matter? The workplace seems to be evolving into more a relaxed and flexible atmosphere... maybe she is ahead of her time 😁

MonkeyTrap Wed 10-Jul-19 09:39:46

As long as you are happy if everyone else starts doing the same thing, it's fine.

^ yup!

WatchingFromTheWings Wed 10-Jul-19 09:41:22

She either needs to come in 30 minutes early, have her breakfast, then start at 9, or eat at home.

Otherwise you may find the rest of the staff wanting an extra 30 minute break. You're her manager, I think you need to put a stop to it.

edgeofheaven Wed 10-Jul-19 09:41:29

AS long as she’s getting all her work done does it really matter?

To me half of the issue is her giving an attitude to colleagues who speak to her during breakfast. So even if she's getting her work done, she's making others feel uncomfortable for no good reason. That needs to be addressed just as much as working out the timing of breakfast.

monielove Wed 10-Jul-19 09:44:36

It's a tough one. I once asked someone to stop taking 30 min breakfast breaks and was informed that another colleague called the nanny 3 times a day for 5-10 mins, another was constantly responding to Air BnB bookings in her side business, and one man took a 30 minute shit every morning at 10.30am. I would monitor other colleagues productivity before saying anything then maybe refresh the 'rules' with everyone rather than target her.

TheHandsOfNeilBuchanan Wed 10-Jul-19 09:45:40

You know if she's that excellent and efficient, I'd let it continue to some extent. I bet others sirens time during the day chatting to others, using their phones, smoking. I would say to her 'jeanette you know I have no issue with you eating breakfast here every day, I do need you to be available to staff while you do it though. I know this won't be an issue given how great you are at multi tasking, I just need everyone off to a flying start.'. Be aware though', if there are people who take long lunches, sneak off early, mess about on their phones and you don't do anything about them either, she will bring this up and rightly so.

Whisky2014 Wed 10-Jul-19 09:47:16


NiceLegsShameAboutTheFace Wed 10-Jul-19 09:48:23

Im going to be snippy, I cant stand managers who cant actually manage, they leave disaffected staff in their wake.

The OP sounds like she absolutely can mange. She's recognised the potential pitfalls of not handling this situation correctly. If managing were just a case of pointing out the rule book, then anybody could do it.

Now to answer the question. I would perhaps continue to allow her to have her breakfast. However I'd explain that, as her breakfast does coincide with working hours, that she needs to be receptive to questions during that time.

WhatsInAName19 Wed 10-Jul-19 09:48:47

It would be a disaster if she quit and we had to replace her with a mediocre employee whose only advantage is that they eat their breakfast at home

But the problem isn't only the long breakfast. It's the effect on the morale of the rest of the team, and I think you're underestimating how big this effect could be. You are also undermining yourself as a manager because you look weak for failing to address the issue. You are also making it very difficult for yourself if you ever need to discipline another employee for time keeping or similar.

You have two options really. You either need to have a conversation with this employee about having her breakfast at home and ensuring she is at her desk at 9am, ready to field enquiries from colleagues in a professional manner, or you need to properly give her the additional 30 mins a day by changing her start time to 9:30am and making sure that she understands this doesn't mean breakfast from 9:30-10:00. As long as she is at her desk and ready to work on time, it doesn't matter what hours are in her contract. That's between her and her employer. Or I suppose the third option is to continue as things are where the situation is not being managed and ill feeling is festering among the other employees.

summerofladybird Wed 10-Jul-19 09:49:40

For that half an hour she's not pulling her weight and she's upsetting the rest of your team. YABU if you don't address this.

WishingILivedOnAnIsland Wed 10-Jul-19 09:49:50

@monielove That's exactly the can of worms I'll be opening.

My view for the whole team is that as long as people do their jobs, I don't dictate how or when they should do it.

If she was just late every day I doubt anyone would have noticed.

Also I work in an industry that's notorious for some fairly outrageous work behaviour. It's hard for me to get excited about breakfast.

NiceLegsShameAboutTheFace Wed 10-Jul-19 09:50:06

You're a poor manager.

Completely disagree.

Yep, let's just lay the law down and risk losing a good member of staff. How does that benefit the organisation? The team?

Whisky2014 Wed 10-Jul-19 09:50:13

If you let herhave her breakfast regime you need to tell her she needs to accommodate people asking her work related stuff without being a twat.

ShatnersWig Wed 10-Jul-19 09:52:03

If she was just late every day I doubt anyone would have noticed

Fuck off would they not have noticed. I repeat, you're a poor manager.

My view for the whole team is that as long as people do their jobs, I don't dictate how or when they should do it.

In which case, tell ALL your staff they are welcome to spend the first 30 minutes of their shift eating breakfast and refusing to do work.

Ponoka7 Wed 10-Jul-19 09:52:20

Well you've really put her on a pedestal.

Best get her insured, if she dies or gets sick, your business is going to collapse.

So there's two pf you not doing your jobs properly.

Monitor the, other Staff. If she is being paid for time she isn't working then they are entitled to that as well.

Unless you are the owner, then you get to decide how to waste the business's wage budget.

Shes behaving appalling towards the other Staff members. Why should they take her attitude and withering looks?

verticality Wed 10-Jul-19 09:54:02

I would do this in a very gentle way. Call her into the office and say "I can't emphasise enough how happy I am with your work generally - you're doing an excellent job. I do have one small clarification, however. It's fine for you to eat breakfast at work, really not a problem. but are you counting the time you take to prepare and eat as part of your working hours? If so, I need you to be responsive to other people's enquiries/requests while you eat. If you're not, then it's fine to tell them to come back when you are finished".

bingbongnoise Wed 10-Jul-19 09:54:26


Sorry but I have to echo the post at 9.29 by @ShatnersWig ... You are a poor manager. I am sure you're a nice person, but you sound a bit wet and weak as a manager. No way in HELL should this be going on, and frankly, you sound scared of this woman.

Sounds to me like SHE should be manager, as she seems to have everyone under her control.

BIWI Wed 10-Jul-19 09:54:29

If she's doing a good job otherwise, I would be wary of starting to insist she works certain hours.

However, this bit jumped out at me:

She is a proud set-in-her-ways kind of person and wont respond well to negative feedback.

She needs to learn that she has to respond to negative feedback! And, which is probably more to the point, you need to be aware that you can't avoid giving negative feedback.

Wixi Wed 10-Jul-19 09:55:02

This happened in the last place I worked, but it soon escalated to 30% of the staff eating their breakfast, at their desk, after their start time. In the end HR, at the prompting of the CEO, said that you can have breakfast at work, not at your desk (no eating at desk rule already in place), but you MUST be at your desk and ready to start work at your allotted start time. By doing it that way, it was not personal to any one person, but a reminder to ALL.

Chocmallows Wed 10-Jul-19 09:55:20

Have you had coaching training?
This involves open and useful questioning with a goal in mind.

At her next 1.1, I would say lightly "aside from the work, can you tell me about your work breakfasts?"

If she is defensive add "I have noticed them and just want to understand your feelings about breakfast in work"
She will justify as must think this is ok for some reason. You need to know why an otherwise hard worker is taking the piss in the morning.

I expect she works harder all day and this is her rebellion against other issues others taking the piss

Whisky2014 Wed 10-Jul-19 09:56:14

How does it take 30 mins to eat breakfast?!

CloserIAm2Fine Wed 10-Jul-19 09:57:29

But the team is justifiably annoyed that one member is not only having an extra paid 30 minute break every day and being rude to them.

So yes you’re a poor manager for putting one person above everyone else. It sounds like you want to avoid an awkward conversation with this woman so are trying to justify why she’s so brilliant she can do whatever she likes.

Nothing wrong with eating breakfast at work in most office jobs, but it should be either before you start or something that can be done while working.

ShatnersWig Wed 10-Jul-19 09:58:00

NiceLegs That's the team that is pissed off that one member of staff is permitted to spend 30 minutes of her paid day eating and refusing to do work?

Of course it's poor management to ignore complaints from other members of staff! The OP even admits she is rude to members of staff for approaching her ABOUT WORK DURING WORK HOURS (at least the first 30 minutes). The OP also says this person doesn't respond well to negative feedback as if she's afraid of saying anything to her.

That's poor management.

Whisky2014 Wed 10-Jul-19 09:58:22

If you get 8 weeks holiday a year she is using 105 hours to have breakfast on a year. That's 3 days based on a 37.5 working week.

Alsohuman Wed 10-Jul-19 09:58:34

@NiceLegsShameAboutTheFace is spot on. As a manager, my concern was with people’s performance not issues like timekeeping.

The issue here is that her performance appears to be faultless in the time she’s spending at her desk. If she’s meeting all her objectives to a high standard and dealing competently with her workload, what does it matter if she’s doing that in 30 minutes a day less?

I might ask her to eat breakfast at her desk to make it a little less obvious.

lmusic87 Wed 10-Jul-19 09:59:19

I think she's really pushing it.

Instead of challenging the breakfast, I would ask her about being rude to people who are 'interrupting her'.

Halloumimuffin Wed 10-Jul-19 09:59:37

I see the situation you're in but you have a greater responsibility to be fair to the rest of your team than appeasing one person who is not abiding by simple rules and being rude. You have to give negative feedback even to employees who don't like it. Reiterate her working hours and let her know she is considered available during these times, and 'breakfast' isn't an excuse not to assist others.

ScreamingValenta Wed 10-Jul-19 10:01:43

At her next 1.1, I would say lightly "aside from the work, can you tell me about your work breakfasts?"

To which I'd respond, in her position, 'Yes. I usually have cornflakes with some fruit, but now and again I have All-Bran with a piece of toast.'

I wouldn't advise the OP to dance around the issue by employing one of the cringeworthy 'coaching techniques' that are bandied round as the answer to everything - just to have an honest and straightforward conversation with her employee.

DarlingNikita Wed 10-Jul-19 10:03:24

I agree with verticality. It's not really about the eating per se, it's about her being rude to people approaching her while she eats.

And this She is a proud set-in-her-ways kind of person and wont respond well to negative feedback. Being set in your ways and unable to respond to feedback is nothing to be proud of. You need to toughen up and she needs to be able to take feedback, positive or otherwise.

ShatnersWig Wed 10-Jul-19 10:03:54

alsohuman Yes, as a manager your concern is people's performance. People's is plural. Her performance at her desk is NOT faultless, because she is rude to other members of staff who approach her to discuss WORK. During WORKING HOURS. That is upsetting other staff and no doubt affecting THEIR performance.

I say that as a manager myself.

mollpop Wed 10-Jul-19 10:05:18

You need to address it with her. Either she starts working at the correct time or she stays half an hour longer at the end of the day. I've managed people who do the same thing and I addressed it with them. Sorry, but if you let it continue you're not doing your job properly and it's unfair on the rest of the team. If someone complained to your manager about your inability to deal with this, I wouldn't blame them. Sort it out!!!

CrispbuttyNo1 Wed 10-Jul-19 10:05:58

You are a crap manager if you don't feel confident or comfortable dealing with this issue. Of course she won't leave, she's not going to get away with doing this for another employer.

Alsohuman Wed 10-Jul-19 10:06:00

Bit of an assumption there @ShatnersWig. What it’s doing is piss people off, I doubt very much it’s impacting on their performance.

VapeVamp12 Wed 10-Jul-19 10:07:10

30 mins a day adds up to over a day a month extra break!

Fuck that, she needs to be told.

Say she can do her breakfast etc but she would need to arrive at 8:30am so she starts actual work at 9am as contracted.

AudacityOfHope Wed 10-Jul-19 10:08:09

She's getting more than a day off every month by doing this! She may be a great employee, but all of your other great employees will leave due to unfairness, and your name will start coming up in their exit interviews.

Myimaginarycathasfleas Wed 10-Jul-19 10:08:25

* What it’s doing is piss people off, I doubt very much it’s impacting on their performance.*

Team morale is very important to performance, so it probably is having an impact.

Dippypippy1980 Wed 10-Jul-19 10:09:20

I had an employee who came in at 8am, building up flexi time, but who spent most of this time having breakfast. I came in at around 9 - worked to seven and took work home. If she saw fit to answer the phone before 9am and anyone asked for me she laughed and said oh dippy would never be in this early!

I started sending her emails late in the evening, then arrived in at 8:30 to discuss them. After a few blank looks, she started swiping her computer on a 8am and reading her emails.

She too was a good worker, but she was abusing the system and my good will, and her colleagues were complaining about it. It had to stop.

ReanimatedSGB Wed 10-Jul-19 10:09:30

It's worth thinking about whether the way to address a lot of people whining is to insist that one other person change their behaviour: it may not be the case.
Have a think about the rest of the team, as PP have said - do others take longer lunches, or cigarette breaks; is it the type of work where what matters is getting the task done, or is it all about presenteeism and obedience? Would it, for example, really harm the working day of other people if they simply adapted to the fact that Ethel isn't available to them before 9.30 unless the building is on fire?

An awful lot of jobs and businesses have plenty of room within the working day for people to eat, read the paper, play Candy Crush or even have a wank. If your job is not paid a strict hourly rate, that means it's about getting the task completed, not Being There. If it's the case (as you have hinted) that this is a line of work which suits individualistic, self-managing people, you could simply tell the rest of the team that they have similar leeway (if they do) to eat/wank/chatter/leave early as long as the work is getting done and they can just adapt rather than sneaking to Teacher all the tim.

WorraLiberty Wed 10-Jul-19 10:10:23

This is woefully poor management OP.

You're willing to ignore the resentment that other members of staff are feeling, to accommodate this person's arrogant behavior. That's likely to come back and bite you on the arse massively.

It would be a disaster if she quit and we had to replace her with a mediocre employee whose only advantage is that they eat their breakfast at home.

Why would you replace her with a mediocre employee? Who does the interviewing? That's a really negative outlook to be honest.

As my old dad always says, "Graveyards are full of 'indispensable' people".

Chocmallows Wed 10-Jul-19 10:10:47

I suggest coaching as I work in an area that does not have a clear clock in and clock off policy. It's common to have breakfast and chat, but lunches often do not happen due to work load. Some work harder in the day and others take work home with them. If someone appeared to take more leeway we would talk about it.

Getting the employee to explain why they are doing something can lead to them understanding their need for change. The goal can be the same, but if the employee is part of a conversation the manager understands their perspective. I would not say this if she was not performing well overall.

Alsohuman Wed 10-Jul-19 10:12:21

@ReanimatedSGB, I wish I was as articulate as you! That’s exactly my approach.

TapasForTwo Wed 10-Jul-19 10:12:35

You do what my head of department does. Instead of pointing the finger at specific staff members you send an email out to the whole team about being at the desk ready to start work at 9 o'clock, not 9.30, not after having a late breakfast or hot drinks etc.

My boss has had to send out emails specifying that any hot drinks etc have to be made before 8.30 so that we are ready to start actual work at 8.30 (our start time).

She has also sent out emails reminding everyone of the dress code as some staff members have been taking the piss (mainly the younger ones it has to be said).

Pissing off the rest of the team because you can't deal with a difficult member of staff is not great managing strategy.

ginghamtablecloths Wed 10-Jul-19 10:13:38

Tricky. Does she have an annual appraisal? Could it be mentioned tactfully that although you don't mind and wouldn't want to lose her that others do and are unhappy about it? After all, she is taking the piss, isn't she?

RB68 Wed 10-Jul-19 10:13:40

I think it has to be generically mentioned rather than specificaly first - so a mention in team meetings that corporate are picking up on timekeeping for everyone and can we make sure we are in and working on time, not late back from lunch and on time for meetings as we have become slack. Working hours re x and we are expected to be available for work in those times. If it continues you are then at liberty to point it out to her, if it continues its a performance issue and should be managed as such

MysweetAudrina Wed 10-Jul-19 10:13:42

I don't care if the staff reporting to me do their work standing on their head or want to eat breakfast at their desk. Once their work is done to a high standard and handed to me on time they can do it however they like. You will probably find that her work is done to a higher standard than those who complain about her. I hate petty childish behaviour in an office as it always reminds me of my kids squabbling that one got more than the other but in reality they are more bothered about what others are getting than taking stock of what they are getting and what things they are doing that a blind eye might be turned to.

Orangeballon Wed 10-Jul-19 10:14:30

You need to be more assertive op, this employee has taken over your role as manager and does not recognise your senior position. She sees herself as top dog.

KnifeAngel Wed 10-Jul-19 10:15:32

She is taking the piss. It's your job to make sure everyone is treated fairly. Her having an extra half an hour break isn't fair on the other staff. It's time to manage her.

Alb1 Wed 10-Jul-19 10:17:20

If you were any sort of a decent manager you wouldnt be debating this. Why will she quit if you talk to her? If you can handle yourself as a manager you’ll be able to approach it in a way that doesn’t make her instantly quit! There’s a world of discussions between the 2 things, for example you chat to her informally and ask about what colleagues have said, she may respond that she does all her priority emails while eating breakfast and she finds it easier if she’s not interrupted doing it but says to staff it’s breakfast rather than work... or what if she’s on a medication that takes half an hour to kick in before her brain can settle (like pain medication or certain steroids). Maybe her breakfast thing a front and then you can justify it to people moaning. It’s probably just that she’s got a god complex as she knows she’s untouchable really but if you don’t even try you won’t no.

Managers like you hold the rest of the team back, they no you don’t give a crap what they think and this woman can do no wrong, you don’t have to get rid of her or even stop her eating breakfast if it helps her be so productive but you could atleast pretend you care to the rest of the team who put effort in to working there.

Nesssie Wed 10-Jul-19 10:18:07

Tell the other staff to come in at 9.30. She can have her breakfast at work, they can have theirs at home. You do all the work between 9-9.30.
Everybody wins

justilou1 Wed 10-Jul-19 10:18:17

Take the time off her lunch break. Problem solved.

HeronLanyon Wed 10-Jul-19 10:18:35

She’s starting half and hour late everyday and doing so in front of her colleagues who are working and from time to time need to liaise with her. You need to manage. Fear of losing someone by proper management is the very definition of you being bullied and being a very poor manager.
Talk to her. Suggest she eats earlier or stays later or has a short lunch hour and that you’ve noticed it. Don’t lay the blame on Others at this stage.

HeronLanyon Wed 10-Jul-19 10:19:20

And tell her she’s great otherwise and that she’s valued. .

SarahTancredi Wed 10-Jul-19 10:19:58

I'm not any kind of manager so cant offer advice really.

But I think there re 2 kinds of people. Those who start at nine so are there, tea/coffee drunk/made , coat hung up and computers/tills on ready to start at nine and who knock smoking breaks or emergency trips out off their lunch breaks.

And those who roll in the door at 9. Have a cigarette and coffee when they get there then sign in and get to work. And who then take cigarette breaks onto of maximum lunch breaths AnD of course take last cigarette fifteen mins before they sign out so dont have to any work

I think its very hard to strike a balance between those who take the piss without screwing over those who occasionally need to pop out or make a phone call.

Eating at desks is fairly common. I've worked in jobs where theres either nowhere to go for lunch so why bother and those where it's impossible to take lunch breaks at all. Theres no need for it to take that long if it's time that's uninterrupted though. Usually lunch takes ages if you are working through it but should only take ten mins if you arent

BlackCatSleeping Wed 10-Jul-19 10:21:10

I think part of the problem is that if someone needs to ask her a question, they have to wait until 9.30am, so it affects others productivity. It is also quite annoying having someone chomping away when you are trying to work.

I think an informal chat is the best place to start. If she really can’t take this on the chin, then that’s more worrying than anything.

SleepingStandingUp Wed 10-Jul-19 10:21:45

How long has this bring going on? Was she already in place when you became her manager and you didn't feel you could upset the applecart so quickly?

Are thry paid for their hours ie toil and ot or is it a set salary? If they're paid for their time then you absolutely should have put a stop to this. If she's prepared to walk out because you expect her to work her hours, good luck to her finding anywhere else as accommodating.

A compromise might be changing her start time and cutting her lunch break

Satterthwaite Wed 10-Jul-19 10:22:10

Oh I hate this. I used to work with someone who would log on to update her flexi time sheet then disappear off for over an hour to have breakfast with a pal in a different part of the building. She was a lazy shite anyway and would do the absolute minimum she could get away with. She took her full hour for lunch out of the office then would bring food back and eat it at her desk for another half hour.

Everyone else really resented the fact that the manager didn't manage this blatant piss take and ultimately applied for other posts away from that office. However, the employee wasn't very good anyway given just how lazy she was.

I think time spent monitoring everyone's productivity would be enlightening. I've worked with others who are at their desks all day long but spend hours on their phones not doing any work. At least your administrator is a good worker.

mummmy2017 Wed 10-Jul-19 10:22:40

The time keeping email is your best way forward....
Time keeping .
Can we please not use phones during working hours. Emergency calls only please be as quick as possible.
Working hours are X till X.
Please be at your desk working at this time, not doing any personal items...
Breaks for coffee and smoking are X as per company handbook...
The management..
Get HR to help.

WorraLiberty Wed 10-Jul-19 10:23:17

Oh god I hate wishy-washy managers who email the whole team with a generic reminder about everything, because they don't have the backbone to pull one member of staff aside.

Everyone else knows who the email is aimed at and it generally whooshes over the head of that person anyway.

Mummyoflittledragon Wed 10-Jul-19 10:23:31

It doesn’t matter that she gets all her work done, she’s preventing others from doing theirs by being unavailable during work hours. Fine, if she’s under pressure due to a deadline or to streamline enquires. Not fine because she wants to eat in peace during work hours.

Does she do overtime?

BlindAssassin1 Wed 10-Jul-19 10:24:15

I wouldn't give her any options regarding a later start time. It'll cause an absolute ball ache for you - 'can I start later/ earlier because Joan does'. If you don't have that kind of flexible working in place already don't offer it to this woman, it'll breed more resentment.

Also if colleagues need to talk to her at 9:15 then she needs to be there, up and running, rather than waiting for her to get her arse in the office for 9:30....when she'll still piddle about going to loo, making a cup of tea.

But before tackling her I'd check the level of piss taking from the rest of the team. There will be a mentality of 'well, she does it so I going to take an extra 10 minutes at lunch'.

bingbongnoise Wed 10-Jul-19 10:25:05

Thing is, every place I have worked, there has been a cheeky fucker like this, who does what they want, who the manager is scared of, and who has often been there since God was a boy, so everyone is scared to call them out.

They never want to go higher than a low to medium admin position, as they don't want any responsibilities, but they DO want things THEIR way, and God forbid ANYONE challenges them.

They are often buddies with people very high up in the company (as they have been there since the dawn of time,) they often look busy whilst actually doing nothing, and some of them have a lot of time off, and they ALWAYS have an ailment. A new one every month. And when they run out, they go back to the first one they had, X amount of months back.

As a few posters have said, you should allow all the other staff to rock up at half nine, seeing as how SHE is not lifting a finger til then.

I have encountered many an employee like this in my 30 years of work life, and they are piss-takes, and cheeky fuckers, and they ALL need calling out on it, yet many 'Managers' are too chicken shit scared to do it. And I am sorry to say this, but it's often because Managers are quite young.

I have experienced many a Manager who is under 30, who is scared stiff of staff members who are older than them, and have been there many years before them, even when that person is below them in rank. Some people should not be managers, and the OP sounds like one of them.

I can't believe some people are trying to make out this CF woman's behaviour is acceptable. I can only surmise that you are all the same as her.


And as 'shatners-wig' and several others have said, you ARE a poor manager if you are allowing this to happen.


You need to be more assertive op, this employee has taken over your role as manager and does not recognise your senior position. She sees herself as top dog.

This ^ in spades.

Tighnabruaich Wed 10-Jul-19 10:25:28

She responds with a withering look and an ‘excuse me I am eating my breakfast’ as though they’ve walked into her own kitchen out of hours and demanded a favour.

And have none of her colleagues picked her up on this attitude? If she'd answered me like that it would not have gone down well. At all.

We're not in work to make best friends, but we should be civil to each other. I wouldn't be pussyfooting around her. No wonder the others are annoyed and resentful.

Zebedee88 Wed 10-Jul-19 10:25:43

Does she take a lunch break aswell? Does she have more break time than everyone else? If she doesn't take more break time then it works out equal, however if she ends up with more than everyone else then of course it's not fair.

Supersimpkin Wed 10-Jul-19 10:26:14

Sounds like the other staff are jealous of their colleague who's showing them up by her better work, not her breakfast.

Whining about someone else's fag breaks and toast doesn't make anyone good at their own job. But the whingers have got a point.

Tackle both problems - put some sort of 'system' in place, and start with a morale-boosting talk aimed at pulling everyone's socks up.

Explain to super-worker the breakfasts have to stop as part of this, and to everyone else that support for colleagues, not bitchery, is the only acceptable behaviour. You don't need to be that nice to anyone in this situation, by the way.

Your job is to keep the better worker, as you know. Give everyone more work to shut them up a bit.

BlindAssassin1 Wed 10-Jul-19 10:28:33

Also, thinking about it, when she's eating at her desk is she working at the same time, checking emails, proofing reports etc. Because if not, that's doubly taking the piss.

If she can complete all her work in the reduced working day then it should be considered if she needs a reduced contract.

thatmustbenigelwiththebrie Wed 10-Jul-19 10:28:54

I think what counts is that she's a good employee and gets the work done. Nothing worse than penny-pinching clock watchers. So what if she eats her breakfast? I think so long as it's not impacting her work then crack on.

Loopytiles Wed 10-Jul-19 10:29:28

You say “in every other way she is a sensational employee.” But then that “She is a proud set-in-her-ways kind of person” and that she “wont respond well to negative feedback”. Those behaviours don’t sound like a “sensational” employee.

“It would be a disaster if she quit”. That’s just catasrophising.

If eating at desks is allowed then the issues are the 10 min prep (unless others take similar length breaks at other times, eg for smoking or vaping) and her refusal to work while eating and rudeness to colleagues.

You should speak to her to make clear your expectation that she will be available for work, including talking to internal colleagues about work matters, from her start time.

LondonJax Wed 10-Jul-19 10:29:52

If I was in early (I used to be a training officer so would get in early to set up rooms etc), I would grab a pastry and a coffee and eat it at work.

However, I ate it before my official start time, often whilst I double checked presentations or printed out signing in sheets.

If you're due to start work at 9am, you are ready to start work at 9am. You don't come in at 9am, do your breakfast, titivate your make up, have a natter to your mate on the next floor. You're paid for the 8 hours or whatever. So maybe she'll be happy to take a half hour pay cut? No, well then she gets in at 8.30am, eats her breakfast then gets the bowl into the kitchen at 9am ready for work.

And if there are other 'she does this and he does that' arguments from her you say what my manager said to someone she had to pull up over something similar 'that's between me and him/her. We're talking about you and I need you in on time'

You're paid to be a manager and she's undermining you. You need to deal with it.

SarahTancredi Wed 10-Jul-19 10:31:11

The extra work is no good though if they cant do it due to staff being unavailable hmm

Cigarette breaks soon add up. I once timed a member if staff who between popping out and going for a cigarette was out and not working for 2 and a half hours out of the 3 hours I'd been there at that point.

Throw in an hours lunch break which always over ran and thats three hours of the day they arent working . Leaving other staff members on their own. Fair enough for lunch as that's unpaid but the other 2.5 hours? Did I get extra doing 2 peoples work? Did I fuck..

Jamsangwich Wed 10-Jul-19 10:31:31

When I worked in a design office, I always ate my breakfast at my desk, because I couldn't stomach it any earlier. But...I never set aside my work to eat. I ate WHILST working. I answered my phone, I continued to use my PC, I responded to emails and I spoke to colleagues who approached me. Yes, my breakfast sometimes took 30 - 40 mins to eat, but that's because it was sat there whilst I worked, and I took a bite when I could. If she's eating something that cannot be set aside like that (mine was a sandwich, so it was easy) then she needs to change her breakfast to one that CAN be set aside and not spoil. She's at work. She is available to colleagues, managers and clients. End of story. She's not in a private dining area on a Lear jet.....

DoneLikeAKipper Wed 10-Jul-19 10:31:34

My view for the whole team is that as long as people do their jobs, I don't dictate how or when they should do it.

Why are you a manager then? Are you actually a manager? Is this seriously not a reverse, @WishingILivedOnAnIsland? I’d go over your head if you were actually showing this level of indifference to your staffs’ attitude problems. You sound rather incompetent.

mummmy2017 Wed 10-Jul-19 10:31:45

The reason for the email reminder was then any piss takers will think your speaking to them.
You leave it a week after the email, then tell her that, your sorry but working practices are being tightened up from on high, and she needs to come in 30 mins earlier to eat breakfast on her own not company time.

WorraLiberty Wed 10-Jul-19 10:31:54

I'm not sure it's jealousy.

I'd be fucking angry if someone prevented me from doing my job, after I'd turned up and started on time, just because they want to munch down on a bowl of Shreddies.

In fact, if she tried giving me a withering look and an ‘excuse me I am eating my breakfast’, she'd discover in no uncertain terms that I couldn't give a shit.

And if my manager started wringing her hands about it and did sod all, I'd take it much further.

RedDogsBeg Wed 10-Jul-19 10:32:55

You are a weak manager, Wishing, your staff are complaining to you and you are playing favourites. Resentment amongst them will build and when they copy the behaviour of your little pet you won't have a leg to stand on as you have set a precedent. Neither will the other staff feel inclined to do anything over and above for you so I hope your favourite will pick up the slack in these instances.

You are not only sanctioning her extra 30 minutes of paid break time you are allowing her to be rude to and dismissive of her colleagues who are actually working and require her input. Both of these issues need to be addressed, why should your other employees have to put up with her arrogance, withering looks and tart put downs?

If you cannot have a diplomatic conversation with this employee and address the issues then you shouldn't be managing anyone.

OverthinkingThis Wed 10-Jul-19 10:32:56

If you let herhave her breakfast regime you need to tell her she needs to accommodate people asking her work related stuff without being a twat.

This. It's not about the eating itself - if she's not prepared to engage with colleagues while doing so then it counts as break time.

Jamsangwich Wed 10-Jul-19 10:34:21

I once timed a smoking colleage over a week. She worked one entire day less than me, by taking regular smoke breaks. I'm sure some of the time she didn't intend to - she ended up involved in chats with colleagues in different departments, but ultimately it ended up with her being paid the same as me but for a four day week, not five. I did make a suggestion that non-smokers get an extra week paid holiday each year, and that was shot down as "unfair". Hmmmmm.

adaline Wed 10-Jul-19 10:34:21

Sorry OP, but this is poor management.

If you have a culture of eating at desks, that's fine, but she can't choose to eat her breakfast and simultaneously refuse to do any work. She doesn't get a paid breakfast break hmm

I've had team members take the piss with regards to breaks and they just get pulled aside and spoken to. She's an adult and she gets the same breaks as everyone else, surely? What makes her so special that she gets an extra 30 minutes paid break?

SerenDippitty Wed 10-Jul-19 10:34:44

Has she logged on while eating at her desk and is she reading emails etc?

JonSlow Wed 10-Jul-19 10:34:54

Is she considering the 30mins breakfast as part of her hour lunch break?

JacquesHammer Wed 10-Jul-19 10:34:59

What a storm in a tea cup. If she’s getting the work done, they I see no issue. But then I’m far more of a fan of a flexible working environment than rigidity.

By all means I would discuss her attitude regarding staff members approaching her, but the rest is a non-entity.

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