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Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by iworktomuch, Aug 21, 2012.
Whats your take on it. I feel like I am baby sitting grown people half of my day at work!
My take is that 99.9% of all problems are really people problems, no matter how they appear on the surface. As a rule food is a lot simpler than people.
This applies in many different kinds of businesses, not just ours.
Oh if it was just about the food eh?
Managing people is always a challenge.
Whenever you get more than 3 people together, you'll always have the drama.
As for managing, I have found the best tool for this is:
then after feeling them out,
use that knowledge to bettering them in the workplace.
The one theme I try to avoid is
"You can't fix stupid"
Get them out as fast as you can, if you are able.
Use the rule book to your advantage and document everything you do, with witnesses.
Managing, in my opinion, is what takes you from a great cook to a chef. You can't be a Chef if you can't effeciently manage a staff, and yes babysitting is a good way to put it but that's the only way to effeciently provide high volume quality food/work.
This is also an area that I think can't be taught, you either have it or you don't.... I'm not perfect by any means and at times want to blow my brains out trying to manage FOH and BOH in 3 kitchens but at the end of the day it is very gratifying.
Sadly I feel that a lot of the modern crop of employees are seriously lacking in a basic work ethic.An employee with integrity is getting harder and harder to find and this is one thing you can try to teach but the sense of entitlement that most young employees bring to the work place
makes this habit they have grown up with a very hard nut to crack if at all. My best crews have for the most part been Hispanic and not native to this country. A large percent of the home grown Americans I have worked with in the kitchen could not hold a candle to the South Americans I have worked with and babysitting is I think a very appropriate and sad perception of the role we chefs and managers have had to
adopt in order to get the job done right.
I think I am getting to old for this stuff but it is just plain nuts when this 52 year old dude can out produce any 2 employees I have worked with over the last 7 years. The prevailing attitude I get in this area is that the job is there to take care of the employee and not that they are there to take care of there job. Babysitting just flat out sucks.................
Babysitting is very close to the perfect word to describe what you're doing when you're managing a kitchen (or any) team these days. I have quite a bit of managing experience, both as a KM of a corp restaurant, and simply having the responsibility put on me without the title of Sous in the last two kitchens I've worked, and I've learned quite a bit about how to keep a team of people accountable and more-or-less reliable.
Building a strong team of reliable workers takes a ton of time and effort, and you must remain diligent while you build their work ethic and ingrain their habits. Especially with the younger workers these days (25 and under, imo), you can spend an entire probation period (3 months) babysitting a worker until they understand what's expected of them isn't something they can negotiate, but can only get better at. It almost feels like you're a second pair of hands doing the same job, but I've found that simply looking over their shoulder constantly and harping on them to fix their mistakes, you can turn almost anyone into a reliable team member.
I've seen a few complaints about today's generation of young workers having no work ethic, but I've also seen more than one kitchen where the head chef, sous chef, et al. Are MIA until someone screws up. Chefs playing on their cellphones in the office until service, Sous flirting with the FOH while their team struggles in the back. Chefs/Sous Chefs going home the moment the sun sets or service starts to slow down. All of these things are unacceptable in my eyes if you're trying to build a strong and reliable team. Managing a team of people takes time and effort, and I've been witness to countless chefs who complain about their "stupid/useless/donkey/etc." staff, but won't invest their time and efforts into making them any better. You're going to feel like a nagging mother a lot of the time, but in my experience it pays off more than it hurts. So far as I can tell, the kitchen team will, more often than not, inherit the attitude of their leader(s), so you have to lead by example, or get ready for constant frustrations from a unreliable staff.
Things to consider:
You MUST identify a worker's strengths and weaknesses, and delegate responsibilities in a way that rewards their strengths, with a few notable "extras" meant to work on their weaknesses.
You MUST identify what motivates a worker. Is making great food reward enough? Do you need to motivate them with scheduled smoke breaks after certain goals have been achieved? Is it letting them work a more difficult station once a week if they stay on top of their main? Everyone has a motivator, and if you can find it and use it, you're gold.
You MUST identify what discourages a worker, and encourage them when those things happen. If they're new and screw up, remind them that it's a learning experience and to make up for it on the next order/attempt.
You MUST stay on top of common errors, and "harp" at the employee to remember the correct method before calling it a night. If your new closer forgot to carry out a closing duty twice, you make sure that every night for the next 2 weeks, the last thing you're saying to them before walking out of the restaurant is not to forget that duty.
You MUST identify "stupid", and eliminate it immediately. It can't be fixed.
I have a 20 year old guy in my kitchen whose productivity has been slipping lately. He has been socializing too much, spending too much time fiddling with the tunes in the music system, etc.etc.
Today I told him that it was imperative that he stay busy. I explained that it makes my job harder if I have to keep him busy when he is more than capable of doing that on his own.
I told him that I like him and enjoy having him as part of our crew, but that an important part of teamwork is insuring that we do everything we can to make each other's jobs as easy and stress free as possible.
I went on to say that the best way to accomplish this is through self governing and initiative.
I finished by saying that I was really expecting him to step up in this fashion because I knew that he could and I would greatly appreciate it because when all is said and done, we are only as good as the people we work with and I know we have the potential to be damn good.
He stepped up and I made sure to let him know at the end of the day how much I appreciated it.
Having any availability to change music, or having music in the first place seems like an easy distraction in a kitchen.
Got to have music.... I have xm on a docking station....No music, no productivity in my kitchen.
In regards to the remarks of sous and execs going hom early,.. I've held both positions, as a sous i worked about 70 hours a week so yes when I saw an opportunity to go home, I went.... as an exec I work about 80+ hours per week and while I go home no later than 9-10PM I also arrive before anyone I go to work around 4-5AM.
As an employee in the kitchen you will learn (i hope) it is none of your business what your sous or exec is doing, again having held both positions there is a lot to the job besides cooking such as menu development, crunching numbers for food and labor, monthly reports to the bosses, contacting and outreach to potential guests,the list goes on... if you reach either of these positions in your career you will truly understand
God forbis guy is listening to his music and you yell out something is falling on him. He wont hear you and maybe get hurt. Insurance co. will bring this up if its comp case .
Just curious, do you listen to music when driving?
Yep, but it won't ever be played in my kitchen.
If you're trying to compare the two situations, you're reaching. A car comes with a radio/cd player, a kitchen doesn't. The fact a cook of yours was distracted by playing with the music system proves why I wouldn't have access to music in the kitchen.
If music in your kitchen works for you, congrats!
So it is okay to potentially fall under the spell of an "easy distaction" when operating a 4,000 pound guided missile that interacts with other people but not when feeding them,
Do you have alcohol in your kitchen? Are you concerned that having access to it can be a distraction?
I think it is fairly obvious that music distraction was a symptom and not the real issue.
Ed...I think were talking about background music. I think your talking about someone with ear buds on, tuning out everything that's going on around him.
That, I would not allow.
Yes I am talking headphoned or buds GO LISTEN TO IT OUTSIDE OFF THE CLOCK
Like I said, does a kitchen come with a cd player and/or radio? no.
A car does, it's that simple.
Your comparison of the two is hilarious, "4,000lb guided missle". /img/vbsmilies/smilies/lol.gif
Whether or not the music distraction was not the issue, but merely a "symptom", it was still a distraction, you even used it as an example.
And no, i'm not concerned that having alcohol for cooking purposes would ever pose a distraction, I work with all mature adults who wouldn't jepordize their jobs over drinking at work.
Keep grasping at straws, though, you may eventually get me to say something that fits your argument. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/lol.gif
I'm not grasping at straws. I can see my point and you can't. It ain't the first time nor will it be the last time that this will occur to me. A fact that has been drilled into my head during the course of attempting to manage people.