Stop the Bully

“You need to do something about her, she is always picking on me and telling me what to do”, she’s not the boss!” Words and feelings like this are expressed five days a week somewhere in our school nutrition family.

Ignoring the bully is the beginning of an approaching tsunami of turmoil in the school restaurant kitchen. Using the “conversation/coaching” approach rarely transforms the bully into a positive contributing member of the school restaurant family.

There are five types of bullies that thrive in school restaurant kitchens

The Silent Grump Bully

She arrives just in the neck of time and mopes around, getting some of their work accomplished. This bully consciously or unconsciously becomes a thermostat, control the temperature of attitudes.

The Snippy Bully

He makes snippy sounds when asked to do something they do not care to do. They also, make various noises when others begin doing or making their opinions known. This bully is especially difficult, because they never really become mean, they just snip through their day.

The “I am smarter than you” Bully

This bully is not a lead and yet believes they know the best way to accomplish todays task, and do not refrain from letting everyone know. This person becomes a constant source of agitation to the entire team.

The call out Bully

This is the person who bullies the entire team by regularly calling out. They miss just enough work to scoop the work load on the other members of the team. This person has no problem or understanding to how they affect the team.

The secret shifter Bully

The SS Bully is cunning in how they dispense their venom within the body of the team. They sneak around and whisper their unsolicited thoughts on how things ought to be done.

There are three popular ways to deal with these family member bullies. Yet, each have their shortcomings which make them a bit unsuccessful in managing the bully among us.


Use the write up with correction method. The problem with this system is it rarely is used as a legitimate correction/coaching system and more of a “create a paper trail” to cover ourselves with the HR department. During this long process the bully continues their style of bullying and adversely affecting the team and how they Serve our Students.


Commiserate with others about the bully without ever directly dealing with the bully or the ripple affect their actions are causing.


Wait till a group meeting and indirectly confront the bully. The problem with this method is the bully either is not attending the meeting or is physically there, yet mentally they are somewhere else.

Someone must deal with Bob or Becky Bully (these names reference is no one I know). There must be a method to transform the bully from thriving in our school restaurant kitchens.

Here is a five-part menu that will over time will change the atmosphere that no longer sustains the bully, gives courage to the ones being affected by the bully, and bring harmony to the team who Serve students.

Boldly Confront the bully in three continual methods

  • Become the example of never using the tactics of a bully.
  • During the hiring process talk about the atmosphere that is the goal of the department.
  • Systematically through the school season of Serve reiterate what’s the expected decorum among the staff of each school restaurant.

Unleash the power of intentional expectations

Most of us spend most of our time focusing on what we do not want, only to get exactly what we do not want. When the farmer plants a watermelon seed in the ground, they expect watermelons to come from that seed. Our training, policies, procedures, and memos are focused on what we do not want to hear and see in the school restaurant kitchen become the very seeds that grow what we do not want.

Using our training, policies, procedures, and memos to talk about our expectations of cooperativeness, fulfilling commitments, and treating each other with respect will be the seeds that produce a wonderful harvest. Often, we send a mixed message through what we say and write, we talk both about what we want and do not want. Unleashing the power of intentional expectations involves developing a laser beam of intentional expectations. Talk, train, and write only about what you want.

Liberate yourself and your team to ask the “How does this action, fulfill our mission” question. Once we have developed the “what we want” atmosphere as the thermostat, we liberate ourselves as well as everyone on the team to boldly confront the bully with the “how does this fulfill the mission” question. It is imperative that we learn the pregnant pause and use it after asking this question.

Everyone who asks the bully the “how does this fulfill the mission” question must unanimously do two things each and every time.

  • Ask it immediately and the exact same way every time.
  • Deploy the long pregnant pause along with the stare while waiting for the bully to answer.

If you begin to answer for the bully, they will mute you and at the same time justify their actions within themselves and to others later.

Launch a verbal spotlight of what’s correct and right while at the sometime refusing to highlight the bully. The bully lives and thrives in the spotlight, so turn it on those that are living up to the focused expectations. Allow the bully to shrivel up in the darkness of being paid attention to. Their potential for transformation is greater as the entire team knows and lives out the expectations and consistently ask the “How does this fulfill the mission” question.

Yelp best practices and attitudes. I stooped into have lunch at a place called JoJo’s Grill a Dog in Redlands, California and from the moment I walked in till I finished they treated as though I was someone special. Great customer acknowledgment educated me in a kind manor, and then treated me to a signature desert. They were the first restaurant I wrote a Yelp review about. I’ve been back several times, and recommended others to go get a grill dog at JoJo’s.

When we experience from our colleague’s and staff the expectations we’ve trained for, policed for, and create procedures for, then we need to Yelp it out to everyone to see. We must talk about the action and attitude of what we’ve expected often.

As we unswervingly spotlight the fulfillment of a great Serve, then the bully will do some of the following three things.

  1. They will silence their bulling words and actions because they are no longer having an audience
  2. They will begin to mirror the actions of those who genuinely Serve
  3. They will remove themselves from this atmosphere that inhibits their existence.

Stop your Bully by

Bold Confrontation

Unleashing the power of intentional expectations

Liberate everyone to ask the “How does this fulfill our mission” question

Launch the verbal spotlight

Yelp the actions and attitudes that fulfill the mission


Matt Upton, your fellow Leapologist

Call or Text me anytime at 916.708.8103

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