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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.

OooErMissus Mon 15-Jul-19 23:25:28

The OP is (unsurprisingly) long gone people, long gone.

PaulHollywoodsSexGut Mon 15-Jul-19 22:37:40

That’s why I wonder if the OP just needs to talk AT her and refuse to entertain any further discussion @Gatoadigrado

However @Butterymuffin called it ages ago; this woman won’t leave so let her huff OP. Don’t pander to her ways, you’re the boss fgs.

tttigress Mon 15-Jul-19 22:36:29

No suggestions. But it is interesting to note that some employees can literally do 2 or 3 times the amount of work than others doing the same job.

Gatoadigrado Mon 15-Jul-19 22:30:17

PaulHollywoodsSexGut the OP has already told us that this ‘wonderful’ employee won’t respond well to any negative feedback. A shit sandwich just won’t cut it!

Gwenhwyfar Mon 15-Jul-19 22:26:38

"What a bizarre problem."

Yes, it's the kind of petty jealousy-type problems you get in workplaces where everyone is really bored.

PaulHollywoodsSexGut Mon 15-Jul-19 22:21:36

Why don’t you just tell her straight?

“Brenda, I need a word. Your work is faultless and I think you’re an asset to the team. But we have a problem in that your breakfasts are starting to cause resentment amongst colleagues because they can’t speak to you between 9 and 9.30 because you’re “busy”.
It’s making you - an otherwise excellent colleague - look unprofessional so can you not continue it? Breakfast before 9 is fine, but if you’re eating after you’ve got to be available too.
Oh and finally, your work on [insert intitative here] was really good this week, it’s appreciated”.

Just don’t give her the right or time to reply and your fears she’ll chuck a flounce won’t materialise.


RedDogsBeg Mon 15-Jul-19 22:12:48

Gatoadigrado I know absolutely shocking isn't it?grin

cushioncovers Mon 15-Jul-19 21:23:08

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

^^ this

Moomin12345 Mon 15-Jul-19 21:21:31

What a bizarre problem. How many of those expressing outrage spend half of the day at work texting /browsing the Internet and social media /online shopping /zoning out? I've seen a lot of that over the years in offices. Maybe the woman takes a shorter lunch break? Also, you should enforce 1h lunch break every day and leaving at 5pm (or whatever contractual time) sharp if you're going to start micro managing and policing people's meals.

Gwenhwyfar Mon 15-Jul-19 21:14:59

"As for the breakfast eater WTF I wouldn't have got away with any of that crap in any job I've ever had"

I WOULD have got away with it in most of the jobs I've had and I'm nowhere near as proactive a worker as Breakfast Brenda smile

Gatoadigrado Mon 15-Jul-19 19:42:29


Newsflash: ‘Member of workforce does their job’. grin

OooErMissus Mon 15-Jul-19 19:30:44

This thread is painful.

There is nothing - nothing! - Brenda can do that matters more than the fact that she eats breakfast at her desk. This is the ultimate, irredeemable sin.

Look, I get it, it's not the breakfast, but the unwillingness to deal with anyone during the time. That's unacceptable.

But, my God. Some posters one here are way more (over) invested in this than the OP. confused If she has any sense, she's well shot of the thread.

As for everyone else, just agree to disagree. You're not going to change each other's mind at this point, no matter what sort of piercing argument you put forward

RedDogsBeg Mon 15-Jul-19 19:11:12

For example last year my breakfast enjoying employee (completely based on her own initiative) decided to create a client database that would prompt our staff to get in touch with clients at key moments in their business lifecycle. This initiative alone has generated extra work to the value of many times her salary. & Certainly many times the value of 30 minutes a day. Last month she decided to negotiate with an existing supplier and reduced an ongoing cost by about 15%. Again, her idea. No one else had thought to do it. Above and beyond her job.

If this is evidence of Breakfast Brenda being so special I'm afraid I'm underwhelmed. Sounds fairly standard in the places I've worked where employees are expected to use their initiative and I'd actually question the calibre of the rest of your staff and managers that no-one else thought of doing either of those things. Increasing profit and reducing costs are a core element of any business every member of staff should be working towards including managers and directors.

Butterymuffin Mon 15-Jul-19 16:58:22

I'm fascinated by the bit of information that hasn't so far as I can see been really thought through. OP said that Brenda's income is such that she doesn't need the job. We've also been told that she has a long commute to get to work, and that she's fantastically productive and inventive at finding new ways to improve the running of the business. So what we have here is someone who's incredibly committed to this job, to the extent that they keep doing a long commute to get to it, and do it without needing the money. Yet people keep saying 'she'll leave if she's not appreciated' - will she? I don't think so. I think she sounds incredibly emotionally bound up in her job, to the point she wouldn't want to go - presumably as such a nine day wonder she'd easily get a different job.

So OP shouldn't worry about putting her nose out of joint so that she leaves - she may huff and puff, but she clearly cherishes this job too much to walk out. You have more power over her than you imagine, OP.

Gatoadigrado Mon 15-Jul-19 11:21:26

I never questioned whether you’re in work or out of it alsohuman, but thanks for letting us know you’ve clocked up your time smile

Fantail Mon 15-Jul-19 11:21:20

If you don’t deal with it you risk losing the other people in your team. Do you want to be the manager with the high staff turnover?

Pick a moment and have a word.

Alsohuman Mon 15-Jul-19 11:17:53

I’m out of any workplace, thank you. I’ve done my 44 years. The workplace you describe is far from modern, in fact it’s antiquated.

Gatoadigrado Mon 15-Jul-19 11:13:52

Why? - you counting Alsohuman? Get yourself into the modern workplace grin

Alsohuman Mon 15-Jul-19 11:09:27

You must be heading rapidly towards your ten hours by now @Gatoadigrado ....

Gatoadigrado Mon 15-Jul-19 11:06:13

RainbowPanda - exactly.
You also have to wonder what happens when Breakfast Brenda takes her annual leave....
Either: the office doesn’t run efficiently because BB is indispensable and the rest of the admin team are so mediocre - ie: poor management
Or: things run perfectly smoothly - in which case you have to wonder why the OP is so scared of/ in thrall to Breakfast Bren. Again, not a sign of great management.

If I had to hazard a guess, I suspect it’s the latter... hopefully if the office is really so at sea when BB isn’t there, it would have been picked up by now....

LaurieMarlow Mon 15-Jul-19 10:58:49

I don’t think it’s that the business is dependent on her exactly. But they can highly value the significant contribution she makes, that’s above and beyond her colleagues.

Everywhere I’ve worked, this is the case. Some people perfectly ok at doing their jobs. Others shit hot at doing their jobs and add a huge amount of value.

It’s not possible to train everyone up to the shit hot standard because not everyone has the same ability and drive. Losing an employee like this will be a big blow to the business and regretted.

I’m not sure why this is so controversial on here. It’s just a fact of life where I work.

Alsohuman Mon 15-Jul-19 10:49:04

So administrative skills are something any idiot can achieve to an excellent standard, are they? Not a concept I’m familiar with. I’ve worked with some shit hot administrators and I’m in awe of their skills, they’ve made my life easier on numerous occasions. You can train some people (me) until the cows come home and they’d only ever be mediocre at best.

Why are people so reluctant to acknowledge this woman - breakfast foible apart - is the highest performing member of the team and adds value her colleagues don’t? Probably because they’re too busy clock watching.

RainbowPanda Mon 15-Jul-19 10:19:34

Gatoadigrado talks a lot of sense! I'm astounded by the number of posters who think Brenda's obstructiveness and rudeness is acceptable. The issue isn't the breakfast FGS. Doesn't matter how well you treat people like adults in a workplace, there will always be some that behave like children or inappropriately. Managers should still be able to have adult conversations with their staff about issues. OPs description about how Brenda will react to constructive criticism does not describe someone who behaves like an adult in the workplace.

Also agree that having a senior administrator who is so indispensable that it would be disastrous to the business if she left is poor management. A heart surgeon I could understand, but not a bloody administrator!

Gatoadigrado Mon 15-Jul-19 09:45:07

of course some people may be better than others. It doesn’t have to mean the efficient running of an office is dependent on one administrator and that it would be a disaster for them to leave. First sentence describes something usual. Second describes a poorly managed set up.

JacquesHammer Mon 15-Jul-19 09:41:43

*Jacques- did you miss the bit where the OP said it would be disastrous for breakfast Brenda to leave?
Poor management to believe that one person in a team is irreplaceable- shows a lack of training/ teamwork/communication of key skills and knowledge.
Not extrapolating, going by what the OP actually says*

No. I read it. It’s very possible for it to be “disastrous” for one person to leave and not be anything to do with management.

Some people are just better at their jobs. It’s not unusual.

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