First Reference company logo

First Reference Talks

News and Discussions on Payroll, HR & Employment Law

decorative image

How would you manage Gordon Ramsay if he was your employee?


Image from:

Last week two celebrity chefs, Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver, were in Toronto doing book signings. Gordon Ramsay appeared in a photo in one of the commuter papers with an adoring fan who was about to kiss him.

Why is he so popular? This is a question I ask myself whenever I witness the way he treats his staff on his television show, “Kitchen Nightmares.” Never seen it happen? Check out this video.

I have heard the celebrity chef explain why he yells at his staff. In this video he compares his work to the coach of a sports team. Ramsay reckons that you must be abusive to get across your point.

Is this true? Is roughness necessary in some lines of work?

Jamie Oliver, “The Naked Chef,” on the other hand is arguably as popular as Ramsay—without all the yelling and screaming that is Ramsay’s trademark. But then Ramsay has described Oliver as “just a cook.” Another example of his bullying behaviour.

How would you manage Gordon Ramsay if he was your employee? How many of you are thinking, “With the revenue he generates, he can act any way he wants”?

A workplace culture that says, “bullying is okay because we need it to make money” may work for Gordon Ramsay. But, is this a culture that is okay for your business?

For one thing, Canadian law is increasingly closing in and forcing employers to address the issue of organizational abuse. Two, the results of important research studies strongly suggest that leaders need to create a culture where abusive behaviour is not tolerated. Leaders do this by setting an example. Not, I suggest the example set by bosses like Gordon Ramsay.

The report of a study by Queen’s School of Business researcher Jana Raver and Lisa Nishii of Cornell University quotes the researchers:

if organizational leaders fail to enforce their anti-harassment policies, employees may conclude that the climate supports harassment, leading to more harassment and organizational backlash. Building inclusive environments and squelching harassment when it does occur will go a long way toward building an environment for healthy and productive employees.”

Read the entire report here.

Here’s an example of a workplace culture that supports a positive, harassment free workplace: The Toronto Public Library has produced a violence and harassment free bookmark that it provides free of charge to the public. The bookmark explains that the management and staff of the library will not tolerate “discrimination and harassment . . . under any circumstances.” This publication makes it clear that staff AND members of the public are required to cooperate in providing a welcoming environment.

When it comes to harassment, bullying and discrimination, the customer is not always right. You need to create a culture in your workplace where there is an expectation of respect.

Learn Don’t Litigate

  • Have an honest look at the culture of your organization
  • Ensure you have created policies prohibiting abusive behaviour
  • Train you managers and front-line staff
  • Follow up thoroughly when you staff complain of abuse

Andrew Lawson, Learn Don’t Litigate

Follow me

Andrew Lawson

Trainer and advisor at Learn Don't Litigate
Andrew Lawson is a human rights and health and safety trainer and advisor, currently consulting to both the federal and Ontario governments. Since 1996, he has conducted extensive legal research in the areas of human rights and occupational health and safety law. He has worked in the people management business for over 25 years. Read more
Follow me

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments are currently closed.