Dealing with Employees Abroad

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Dealing with Employees Abroad

Post by Ericwt on Mon Jul 15, 2013 6:23 am

After living in the tropic with employees and businesses I think there is a need to discuss dealing with Employees.

Even if we are talking about cooks. I think everyone in Belize should have a half insane EL Salvadoran cook. It makes life interesting.

On a more complex matter there are employees that you hire to do specific functions that effect you ability to make a profit. Your success depends on how you deal with employes who have an entirely different culture and view of life that is vastly different to you.

I am adding this thread so I have a place to talk about employees abroad.

Please feel free to comment or ask questions.

Do you have employees abroad? What issues and problems do you have? How did you solve those issues?

I will add thoughts on this thread over the next few weeks as they occur to me.

Ericwt
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The Half Insane El Salvadorian cook. A guidebook and an epic journey. Volume One, Introduction

Post by Ericwt on Wed Jul 17, 2013 5:01 am

The Half Insane El Salvadorian cook. A guidebook and an epic journey. Volume One, Introduction.

Belize was quite a change for me. The environment, culture and yes the food.

It took me a while to understand that the people of Belize just do not get it.

By that I mean they do not have US values and they have different priorities than most expats that they work for.

This is not bad or good, it is just how it is.

When the El Salvadorian cook appeared in Belize, she was escaping a violent and bloody situation that the US media ignored. She lost all her family and got into Belize because the U.N. gave her a humanitarian visa. Basically that means the U.N. worked something out with Belize and Belize let a few thousand El Salvadorian refugees into Belize.

She arrived with nothing but the clothes on her back. Before she worked for us she was living in a thatch leafed hut with no electricity or running water.

She had never seen a microwave oven before in her life.

Like a good deal of Belize people she had lived all her life doing the same thing every day. Rice and beans for breakfast, lunch and dinner, cooked on a wood stove outside. Nothing was wasted, she understood what near starvation was.

When one world and set of values meet there are bound to be interesting situations that come up. At times it can be trying on the patience.

In fact it can be frustrating. But over the years she has proved herself loyal and honest. That is a quality most Belize people do not have.

Because she has demonstrated honesty we deal with things about her that we usually would not tolerate with other people.

The trade of is hard sometimes but it is worth it. Loyalty and honesty speak volumes about someones inner character. Even if they are a little loco.

Chapter 1 comes in a few days.

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Re: Dealing with Employees Abroad

Post by Ericwt on Mon Jul 22, 2013 5:59 pm

The Half Insane El Salvadorian cook. A guidebook and an epic journey. Volume One, Chapter One.

As expats we sometimes forget that the rest of the world does not live and do things as we do. In fact our world and the world of the people where we choose to live often have startling differences.

The average expat from Western or other developed countries has no clue how the average local lives. There world is different.

We are used to choices, decisions and variety. The idea of doing the same thing day after day seems like a personal hell for us. But likely it is how your employees live.

Imagine eating rice and beans seven days a week for Breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you are lucky sometimes you might have chicken with it.

If you did the same thing every day for over 40 years your patterns are set. It is a routine that becomes ingrained in you.

With a new cook in Latin America or the Caribbean this is one of the major challenges you face.

You are going to have to teach them how to cook from the beginning. starting with the most basic information.

Cooking oil is an issue. Most cooks in the tropics use the cheapest cooking oil available. That cheap oil will kill your health. So you do have to require them to use an oil that is safer and healthier. They will fight it will every grain of their being because it is different from what they have always done.

Every new dish they try is going to require you to actively supervise them and instruct them. Giving them a recipe is not going to get what you want.

Assume they know nothing. Show them everything.

They are still going to screw it up. keep on them. It is very common for them to get something for a while and then without thinking they go back to what they were doing before. This is frustrating but you cannot give up. Remember they spent years doing the same thing day after day for years. It is not going to change overnight.

If you have a budget for the kitchen remember the least little think can set your cook off.

My cook can tell you the prices of any random can you pick up in the pantry. They know how much, red snapper and shrimp are at any given day.

The budget is laid out in the cooks mine.

What will throw you cook into a angry fit?

As another employee for Breakfast and tell your cook at the last minute. This will likely throw your cook into a rage because it messes up her egg count for the week. She is trying to deal with all this silly gringo nonsense.

In the next post I am going to talk about hygiene and a clean Kitchen and cook. This will save you much frustration and less trips to the doctor because of parasite issues.


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Re: Dealing with Employees Abroad

Post by Ericwt on Sun Aug 04, 2013 7:27 am

The Half Insane El Salvadorian cook. A guidebook and an epic journey. Volume One, Chapter two:

A lot a people are absolutely repulsed by the hygiene and sanitary conditions of the third world. That is one of the reasons it is the third world.

The neat thing is although you cannot always control the conditions around you, you can control the things in your little part of it.

If you manage to find a honest cook who does not rip you off, it is in your bests interests to work with that cook.

It is going to be frustrating. You will get angry. But you need to remember the world you came from is very different from their world.

You are going to have to constantly remind them to wash their hands before cooking food. You are going to remind them to wash their hands before they set the table and so on.

Always look at your silverware before you use it. Look at plates and glasses. If they are not clean enough make the cook clean them again.

One of the things that annoys me to no end is when the cook brings be a spoon she will hand me the handle while holding the spoon. I have to remind her to hold the handle and then give it to me.

You are going to have to inspect the kitchen daily. One of the habits I have noticed is leaving out food  for hours after it has been cooked. Remind them constantly.

Always insist on using natural cleaning solutions, like vinegar, lemon, and citrus oil (good for bug repellent). Bleach will mess up the septic system and then you will have a smell on your hands. Yogurt down the drain will help solve this.  

Remember the cook works for you. It is your job to tell them when you are not happy.

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