How to deal with a bossy fast food manager who seems to target you?

Hey guys,

I mean men! My name's Matt (If my profile name hadn't given it away) and I work at a Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen. This by itself can be a very stressful and frustrating job, as with any fast food joint, due to the fast-paced nature high customer demand--And that with little to no intrinsic reward at the end of it all, nothing to show for it. As some of you may know though, these jobs can be loads easier if you work with a tight crew of respectful co-workers always willing to help each other out. Rarely does this in fact happen. Everyone sooner or later resorts to looking out only for their own skin, and occasionally--if not the occasion for the every-man-for-himself mentality--you get a manager who seems less interested in putting the time and effort in to make things go as smoothly as possible than in barking demands and talking down to people when inconsequential, minute deviations are made.

I have just such a manager, which in itself wouldn't be too terrible, I don't think, save for the fact that she seems to pick on me specifically. She has somewhat of an attitude to begin with, one of her most noticeable traits being quick to lose patience with customers who are indecisive or vague. We all do some times, but she lets her annoyance come through at the drop of a single order change. Of course this isn't the point. I am not the most efficient nor the speediest worker by any measure, and unfortunately, due to loss of morale, nor do I care to be (My customers are never any less catered to with urgency, regardless of my motivation). That said, I do work as hard as my co-workers and always try to find something to do. It actually drives me a bit up a wall if I can't remind myself of something to do quickly.

Enter: Bossy manager. She seems to know what I'm doing at all times and always finds something to pick at me about that she doesn't much bother about with my co-workers. But it's not just the nit-picking, it's the tone of voice she uses: She talks to me like I'm one of her rebellious little children, that "You made Mommy mad." tone of voice. It's not condescending, but it is totally devoid of a lack of respect and clearly indicates that she thinks I'm some sort of slacker who never gets anything right. The worst is when I do something that needs to be done, like put biscuits in the oven. This is a prime example for you guys. Even if it needs to be done, if it isn't at her prompting, she gets upset, as though I'm undermining her authority. There have been a handful of occasions where, after wariness of incurring the wrath and not wanting to confront her bossiness (Her response when asked if she wants another pan in, whether yes or no, tends to be offered with attitude) I or other co-workers didn't put a pan of biscuits in because we figured she would simply delegate that to someone, and then she became upset when she realized nobody had taken the initiative to put one in. This is blatant contradiction. That said, I'd be remiss if I didn't emphasize that she treats the other co-workers with much more respect and tact than I.

Some may think, "well, imagine having to be a manager hard at work at a fast food joint". I have, and I work with three other shift managers, including the general manager, who are always hard at work on some priority (I actually have one manager who's a bit pokey, or rather shuffles about with too many targets and not as much ability to focus on a few key priorities, but his overall good demeanor and dedication to making everything work smoothly for everyone else makes it easier for me and others to work and we generally handle the rushes quite a bit better). She does not do this. She literally--not figuratively--stands around until she decides something seems critical enough to get her attention. The word there is 'decides'. I kid you not, we've been backed up on customers, one man short and without a second to catch a breath, and she's just stood at the manager's desk staring out the window. Coincidentally, I don't seem to have any of the performance problems with either of the three other managers. In fact, just the knowledge that she's on the hunt actually stunts my performance because I'm always on edge.

Now, I hope this hasn't come across as some sort of whiny rant from some twenty-something who knows little about the world, but I do need some serious advice in dealing with this. Currently, there's not much else I can do. As I tend to work mornings and she's the morning shift, we see each other all the time, and my only other options are other minimum wage jobs most of which tend have poor management themselves.

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 Short answer, based on reading the first sentence of each paragraph:

 Either take it, or quite.

Matthew,. you're frustrated, aren't you? And maybe feeling a little bullied?

Your post covered a lot of territory, and I'm not sure how much I can help with all the problems. Let's see if we can pick out a few key issues for improvement, and see where it goes from there.

First of all, your manager can not change your mood or how you feel about yourself. She doesn't have a voodoo doll of you that when she pokes pins in it, it upsets you or frustrates you. You do that to yourself.

You can learn how to feel good regardless of her attitude towards you. Do not react emotionally to anything she says, ever. Have you ever watched an old detective movie featuring a hard-boiled detective type? He doesn't react emotionally to taunts, setbacks, criticism, or confrontations. You need to be like that with your boss. Maintain a good mood by default, and don't react emotionally to anything she says or does. Be polite and professional, and do not allow your good mood be impacted by anything she says.

Next, you need to learn how to build rapport. That's too long of a topic for my answer, so I'm going to refer you to an expert. This is the best book I have ever read on the subject:

Creating Harmonious Relationships: A Practical Guide to the Power o...

If you master the communication techniques described in that book, it will open doors for you regardless of the outcome of your current situation. You'll notice that it's out-of-print, which is somewhat surprising for a book of that quality. You'll also note that all 3 reviewers gave it a perfect score. I would too, if I bothered to review it. You can afford a used copy. Read it cover to cover, think about it, read it again, figure out how to implement the techniques, and use them in your daily interactions with other people. Master the art of building rapport, so that no matter what happens, in the future your relationships, working and otherwise, start out on the right foot and stay that way.

One more thing: you need to pursue excellence in your work regardless of what she or anyone else thinks or tells you. In other words, don't wait for her to pat you on the head and tell you what a good boy you are (which might leave you waiting for a long time). Take delight in your work and find enjoyment in it. Something called "mindfulness training" might help, though it might be a bigger commitment than you're ready to make just yet. Lemme know if you're interested in that. The situation you want to create is one in which they need you more than you need them. That's probably not the case right now, which is much of the source of your frustration.

Great success to you.

Turn it around.  Let's look at it from her perspective.


She's in charge of multiple "slackers" who obviously can't be trusted to do the right thing.  (her opinion)  You need prompting, even micromanagement, or nothing will get done...and getting stuff done *is* her responsibility.  You employees are nothing more than equipment that can talk back.


But, oops, there's one who keeps showing initiative, but only sometimes.  She can't figure this're giving her mixed signals.  And, YOU take the initiative and try to get things done.  Uh oh, this is HER responsibility, and you're stepping on her toes.


Jeez.  If she doesn't smack you down and into submission, you might get a promotion and replace her.  Can't let that happen.


You're a direct threat to her job!


Based on your description, I'd be willing to bet your other 3 shift managers have taken notice of you, and by taking notice, made things slightly more difficult for you.


Ultimately it comes down to this.  Do the best job you can.  That's all anyone can ask.  Ideally, the cream will rise to the top.

You could find another job but not at another Popeyes because that lady works at every single Popeyes. Apparently they have some sort of breeding program to breed to most attitude combined with the lowest level of helpfulness. Be thankful that you get paid to deal with that. As a customer who is trying to purchase some of that delicious chicken, buttery biscuits and red beans & rice (now I'm drooling) I have to pay for the misadventure of dealing with this woman.

HAHA! And I'm the guy who has to feel bad because it's either give you 15-minute-old biscuits (So as not to 'waste' them--A concept I still fail to understand because there wouldn't be a quality control time limit if the aim was not to 'waste') or lose my job.

You definitely made that post too long. At minimum wage, no matter where you go, this type of manager will likely exist. They work in these places because it's the only kind of management affordable at the price offered.

That said, you have a few options:

1. The deal or quit.

2. Ask her what it will take to get her off your ass.

3. Confront her/Ridicule her. I did this over a 3 years delivering pizza. Had a series of managers that did VERY illegal things. I didn't take their crap and when they threatened to fire me, I threatened them with legal action. That said I did my job, and typically did the job of my superiors. It's risky, but you can put this manager in her place. Call her out. If she's not working, tell her to get to work. Be serious, and authoratative. If she's staring out the window and it's busy, tell her to do her job, or call someone who will and get out of your store. Don't do this unless you think it will work and aren't scared of being fired.

I only used #3 when all else failed. I never considered #1 an option unless I had another, better job lined up. #2 was always my first stance. Personally, I have a 3 strikes rule. If you are rude/condescending etc to me repeatedly, I warn you twice, and the third time you're fair game.




And with that, I recant my earlier position, in favor of this one (or multiple positions as the case may be)

...some twenty-something who knows little about the world...

Welcome to the workforce. Folks start at the bottom for a reason. You have learned what a crappy boss looks like, maybe. You are learning the difference between being in charge and being a real leader. Whether you stick with Popeyes or move on, eventually you'll get your shot at leadership. When you do get that shot, your subordinates will judge you on how you do as will your new bosses who will have expectations of their own you must live up to if you want to keep your job. It can be a cruel tightrope. Again, welcome to the workforce!

What you're experiencing may well be the "Peter Principle" in action.

Or, in the words of a far wiser man than I, "How come everyone else is a jerk?"


Can I also bring in Parkinson's Law?


The best bet with any boss is to find out what type of person they are and what they expect from you, then go from there. Use the carrot, and not the stick; give that person what they want out of a worker, and both of your days will be easier in the end. Googling "types of bosses" and reading a few articles there might help.

If she's the type of person whom you can pull aside and have a conversation in private with about the matter, do so. It might help to resolve the issue... Just remember to be tactful and polite in your conversation.


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