ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › Professional Food Service › Professional Chefs › Professional Kitchen Management Philosophy
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Professional Kitchen Management Philosophy

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
How do you manage your employees? I've mostly worked in independent restaurants. Later I've become sous - chef and executive chef. Handling employees is perhaps the most difficult aspect of the job. I've come to realize a couple things.

First, I have a huge responsibility to the employees to make sure that the restaurant is lucrative. All our salaries, benefits, livelihood and health insurance come from that source. It has to function. I found thinking about myself as working for all the employees to insure that they have a safe work environment and job security is the bases of the relationship. The employees don't work for me, I work for them.

Second, I can't make all the choices in the kitchen and dining room all the time. Each employee has to have the confidence to make their own decisions at every moment. I've come to learn letting employees make decisions that are different than mine is important, because I don't want to undermine their confidence. When people ask me how things should be done I give them options, then ask which of the options do they think is the best solution. Almost always they answer with the same option that I, myself, thought would be best. I also respect their decisions if they are different than mine, shaking my head and thinking to myself, "Ok, let's see how this works." After a while, I didn't have to make any decisions for anybody, because everyone else was making the correct decisions all the time. Keep in mind that one person sitting in the hot seat of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire rarely gets all the questions correct, but the ask the audience lifeline produces the correct answer 98% of the time. No one person knows everything. Collectively, we do much better.

Third, I define a manager as someone who manages to get things done. I strive to be the hardest working and most producing person in the restaurant. It's not fair to sit around, maybe pick up an inventory list and criticize a line cook while expecting the other members of the team to work their butts off. I work so hard and I can hold everyone else to that expectation. Restaurant management should lead by example.

For those few moments when an employee needs to experience what I call the 'wrath' and the other employees call 'Mr. Hyde', I'm entitled to it and I have to do per first item, as responsibilty to all the other employees making sure the business is lucrative.

Last, I depend on my employees and they know it.
The Yacht Chef Network http://thechefsgalley.com
Reply
The Yacht Chef Network http://thechefsgalley.com
Reply
post #2 of 15
I let my employees make decisions for the back of the house. I make all the decisions of what goes to the front of the house..........I want my employees to feel they are a part of the operation. If they have an idea for a special or new menu item I will ask them for the recipe and ingredients. They can make their new food item for all of the employees to taste and judge.
Payday, I always make sure they get paid on time. If payday is on a weekend I pay them early, on the Friday so they have money for the weekend.
I always wondered what kind of manager I wanted to become. I Looked up to a few managers that I worked under, and took all the good points I learned from them. I also learned a lot from the bad managers, What not to do. I think most employees just want a fair shake. Most of them don't know it yet, but its ok not to hate the boss........
I have my employee on Money incentives, the more they make for the business, the higher their wage...........If I have someone that wants a raise, I tell them your in charge of your station/shift so you better come up with some ideas to increase sales. If they need help then I step in and give them ideas. I want them to think, and come up with their own ideas...Compassion goes along way in the kitchen, I would watch how much rope you give any employee, they may hang you in the long run. Trust is a two way street.............Bill
post #3 of 15
possible repost....

This came up in conversation tonight. I remember a post from you in some thread, defining your "money incentive" program. I tried to explain it, but it had been too long since I saw the post; was unable to articulate.

At the risk of hi-jacking this thread, how do you, ChefBillyB get away with this concept?
It sounds too good to be true/legal.

And I don't want to offend. I know of plenty of restaurants that pool tips and spread it out among all employees, but I am under the impression that that practice is illegal as well (in WA state).

-honestly looking for help
post #4 of 15
Hi left4bread, I call it a bonus program on their paycheck. Bonus 1-2-3 with each bonus being a different amount of money. My operation is a bit different. We do the inhouse upscale cafeteria services for a large retailer, about 1000 employees. I used to have 16 employees working this site,now have seven. I needed to figure a way to have some of these people work the shift themselves/alone and not get robbed blind. On one swing shift I have one girl working and in most cases would be a min wage position in this area, about $8 an hour. The sales on this 6.5 hour dinner shift were about $250 a night. I put her on this incentive with a base wage of $9 an hour. the rest is as follows.Not exact but close

0 to $299 ......$9.00 per hour
$300 to $349 .$10.00 per hour
$350 to $399..$11.00 per hour
over $400 ......$13.00 per hour

Remember this is a "min wage" position that this employee gets a chance to be involved, and sell her ideas. She increase sales and customer service. At the highest level she is making 5$ more per hour than anyone doing the samething in town. In most cases she has build it up to get her bonus 2 to 3 times a week on a 4 day week.

Wage at $9 per hr x 6.5 hrs at $275 in sales = 21% labor cost
Wage at $10 per hrx 6.5 hrs at $325 in sales=20% labor cost
Wage at $11 per hr x 6.5 hrs at $375 in sales= 19% labor cost
Wage at $13 per hr x 6.5 hrs at $425 in sales = 20% labor cost This is not taking taxes and bennys into account, but you get the idea.
The bottom line is, I have empowered empolyees that are incharge of their own shift. If they steal, they are stealing from themselves and not making the bonus. They are always thinking, how can I do better on my menus to increase sales. They are proud of themselves when they hit the Bonus. This works wonders for me, not only do I have employees that I can trust, I have them increasing sales and doing a great job in food quality and customer service for my client...............I have different variations of this program on the weekend shift. With some of my lead people at a higher starting wage, and higher bonus incentives. I have been doing the contract Food service for over 20 years and in the past have had nothing but turnover. My Turnover is a thing of the past and I have content empolyees with respect for themselves and their jobs. This program brings a lot of self pride to them and a feeling of accomplishment.......Bill...P.S We don't use the word Illegal in my business, but I do think outside the box a lot.
post #5 of 15
It's interesting that this came up today as I was thinking that this restaurant business thing would be fun if it weren't for the employees....

My staff pools tips, but we're a sandwich shop (and catering company) with no table service. I feel that the person stuck in the back keeping the front people supplied deserve a cut of the tips. The back people often jump in out front in necessary.

I want people to make decisions on their own but I don't want anyone telling me how to run my business. I don't hire stupid people, but that doesn't mean I want all of their opinions all the time. Sometimes their way is better, or is at least as good, but do we really have to reinvent the wheel every day?

Here's what I don't get: I have one employee who can't make a decision if her life depended on it. If I leave for a job or to go to the bank, I can bet the farm that she'll call me at least once. The other day, Ms Indecisive told one of the young girls to come in an hour early because I had made a typo. To make it worse, I was in the next room and was completely available to clear up the scheduling error. This is someone who'll call me to ask where the eggs are and yet, she'll take it upon herself to rewrite the schedule.

That said, how do you guys give raises? In my opinion, raises are merit-based. I don't want to give a raise to someone who's not doing well at their job just because they've been with me for a certain amount of time. On the other hand, one would think that with more money, there's more incentive to do better.

Edited to add: The pooling of tips is done by the week. For instance, I add up the total tips and divide it by the total number of hours worked. Each employee gets an amount based on thier hours worked.
post #6 of 15
I operate a chocolate/pastry shop, and have a variation of BillyB's program. Uusually have one employee manning the till. If at the end of the shift they exceed daily average sales, they get a cash bonus usuly $7 for every hundred exta over the daily average--paid out in cash at the end of the shift.

Works out O.K
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
Reply
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
Reply
post #7 of 15
This is a great thread and has got me thinking how I can use some of Billy B's ideas in my place. I also sympathize with Lentil. The previous manager in our place was a dictator. There was bad morale with the crew as they felt they had no say over anything. I accept their imput as I feel it's important, but they take that to mean that I want their advice on every little thing, that if I say something's not negotiable I'm a jerk and they keep arguing the point, and they lose sight of the fact that in the end, I'm the boss. I usually remind them of that fact by giving them "the look", which is a silent "who do you think you're talking to". If they have an idea, we will either try it and see how it goes, or I will tell them why I don't think it will work. Usually if something isn't at least tried it's because it doesn't suit the place, would not be profitable or would have production issues. A couple of weeks ago they had driven me nuts to the point I was ready to tell them that anyone who didn't like it there shouldn't let the door hit 'em on the way out. I also come from another time when if you were working in a kitchen and someone wasn't yelling at you, it was a good day. I had a dishwasher crying to everybody that he was going to quit because he told me a patch on the dish table was leaking and I blew it off saying "Yeah, what else..." This was the same day that the compressor in the freezer blew after I had 6 service calls on it. The rest of the crew was saying I should have thanked him for pointing it out because now he thinks I don't care, blah, blah, blah. I don't know what to do with these kids now. I told them I have 10,000 things on my mind at any given time, the most important being keeping the place running at a profit so they have a job and a leaky dish table just isn't the biggest thing in my world. I'm sorry, but I have more things on my mind than worryng about if the dishwasher feels appreciated. Don't get me wrong. I treat everyone with courtesy. If they need help, I help them. If I burn a pan, I wash it myself. I thank each person at the end of their shift. One time I saw some food go out to an employee without a ticket. I went back on the line and asked the cook if there had been a slip hung for it. He said no. I reminded him to not make anything without a ticket. This all transpired in a normal, conversational manner. He told the owner I "yelled" at him. There's some kind of generation gap here that I'm not sure I can bridge. Help me!!
post #8 of 15
heh.
was thinking about zoey, but didn't want to misrepresent myself. francis might be closer...

I'm not going to say 'that' word again, but I don't think your regimen can work for me in my current employment, where I work right now. Too bad. Thanks for re-posting your info. Interesting to look at if nothing else. Minimum wage in this state (WA) is, well, really high compared to other states.
Sometimes I just want to get a haircut and start serving... meh.
you hiring?
post #9 of 15
This is one of those debates where I understand the concept, but disagree with how it is implemented in the real world. Let me explain.

My wife is a speech pathologist. Without going into detail, many of the kids fail to succeed because of behavioral issues. They need some form of reward system, like candy or a game.

The problem is that many kids will walk into her room and demand that they be allowed the game without having to work at all.

I believe that when you work for a company you also tacitly agree to further the mission statement of the corporation. Using an extreme example, you might be the biggest peacenik on the planet, but if you agree to work at a veterans' hospital then you need to keep your personal agenda to yourself. Either that, or move on.

Working in a restaurant, sharpening, even doing the dishes is clearly the "service industry." People come to your establishment to dine, see friends, or perhaps unwind from their busy and arduous schedule.

If I had to bribe an employee to do the very thing I hired he/she to do, my guess is that person would only be with my company for a short time. Either they would never excel and seldom be promoted, or I would constantly have to mentor a high-maintenance employee, or the troublesome person would just talk himself out of a job.

Now granted, I believe in a merit system. For example, Harley-Davidson (with the consent of their union) rewards their best line-mechanics by transferring them to the Custom Vehicle Operation, where the most expensive custom motorcycles are built. These craftsmen are the best of the best, and they attained that position--and all of the benefits--by being industrious, adhering to a standard and good ol' sweat equity.

However, my wife reports that a "merit system" among teachers has been fought for years. The less productive teachers would "feel bad."

When I perform well, yes, I get a tip--sometimes as much as the job I have completed. I also get hired back, and I might get a referral. In turn, I tip servers generously, and I even tell their managers of such performance and fill out computer surveys.

Overall, I am against a predetermined merit system for just showing up for work.
post #10 of 15
With respect, dignity and consistency.
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
Reply
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
Reply
post #11 of 15
I agree. I taught in the NY adult ed and high school as well as private sectors for years. I for one would love to see GOOD teachers PAID ON MERIT. I worked with some people who were there only to draw a check and I think stay out of the rain.
They could not care in the least if students passed or failed or learned anything. All they would talk about was days off, whats for lunch, pending vacations and union benefits. They needed the union to keep the jobs, because out in real world they would most likely be let go. I got so disenchanted with the system that I packed in the public sector and stayed in private and adult ed only. I felt sorry for the kids in the public HS system, and for myself and all the other taxpayers whose tax dollars were wasted on these supposed teachers.:crazy:
CHEFED
Reply
CHEFED
Reply
post #12 of 15
When you teach a person to fish they can feed their family for life. How much incentive does a $7 or $8 an hour employee have???? Money feeds families not Mission statements in their minds.................The employee has an incentive to better him/herself and make more money for the company. Wouldn't that be a winner for both sides??????? You can always have the Mission Statement, it just may mean a bit more to them if they can afford to feed their families in the process......................These people arn't living in 500K homes and driving to work in their BMW's. These people are the foundation of the restaurant business and have never had a chance to prosper. Most restaurant owners think these people are expendable. I feel if you take good care of your employees you will build a great staff that will show up with great customer service and Food quality..If we are going to talk a good game with our mission statement, then we should walk the walk with a way to help our employees with an incentive to help them make an honorable wage........Bill
post #13 of 15

I guess that this all sounds great, but whatever happened to an employee being great full for the job in the first place. I agree with being the hardest working person in the kitchen so that when things do go south and someone needs discipline that your own back is covered, but it seems like the younger my cooks get the less they know about desperation. And with that I mean the actual fact of having a job while many people do not have that opportunity, or the skills to work in general be it in a kitchen, construction, or what have you. I treat my staff with respect and dignity but they all seem to have a chip on there shoulder like they are doing me a favor for showing up for there shift in the first place. This to me comes off as a lack of respect. I was never treated horribly coming up as a kid in the kitchens I worked in but I never had a handout mentality, that seems to be the way things are going. For me it all still comes down to the carrot or the stick. And despite the health benefits of actual carrots, to much of these proverbial carrots seem to equal lazy, slow, and lack luster employees.

post #14 of 15

For me The Tourist nailed it.  My partner and I were sitting down to work on our spring menu the other day and started talking about our staff, and I mentioned how annoyed I was that I seemed to always need to 'baby them'.

 

We both worked together way back in the day and started reminiscing on the fact that when we were the age of our line cooks that we were machines.  We would come in and work 40+ hours a week (if we could get the hours) and then still go out, party hard... and then come back in the next day hung over but still bust out amazing food and be happy to be there.  While now all of our cooks complain about being tired when they are 4 hours into a 7 hour shift. Not only that but they complain when its slow and we start to actually get busy.

 

Its a total generation shift.  The kids for the most part coming into the workforce now are entitled and have had everything handed to them.  They really do come into work with the mentality that they are doing us a favor by being there (as another poster commented) and that makes managing them exhausting.

 

I will say my biggest weapon in my arsenal is my 'look' though.  I am a pretty happy go lucky chef with a great sense of humor so when I get pissed they know.   Also when I do have to talk to one of my guys I speak to them as though they are adults and I try not to be condescending. If I tell them that they are doing something wrong I also explain to them why it is wrong and why doing it correctly is important.

 

Managing is probably one of the hardest things I have ever experienced and some times I wish I could do it by just punching everyone in the face....but I can't....so I must take the higher road.

post #15 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by DrewJsph02 View Post
 

For me The Tourist nailed it.  My partner and I were sitting down to work on our spring menu the other day and started talking about our staff, and I mentioned how annoyed I was that I seemed to always need to 'baby them'.

 

We both worked together way back in the day and started reminiscing on the fact that when we were the age of our line cooks that we were machines.  We would come in and work 40+ hours a week (if we could get the hours) and then still go out, party hard... and then come back in the next day hung over but still bust out amazing food and be happy to be there.  While now all of our cooks complain about being tired when they are 4 hours into a 7 hour shift. Not only that but they complain when its slow and we start to actually get busy.

 

Its a total generation shift.  The kids for the most part coming into the workforce now are entitled and have had everything handed to them.  They really do come into work with the mentality that they are doing us a favor by being there (as another poster commented) and that makes managing them exhausting.

 

I will say my biggest weapon in my arsenal is my 'look' though.  I am a pretty happy go lucky chef with a great sense of humor so when I get pissed they know.   Also when I do have to talk to one of my guys I speak to them as though they are adults and I try not to be condescending. If I tell them that they are doing something wrong I also explain to them why it is wrong and why doing it correctly is important.

 

Managing is probably one of the hardest things I have ever experienced and some times I wish I could do it by just punching everyone in the face....but I can't....so I must take the higher road.


Drew Welcome to Cheftalk! I could not have said it better, you hit the nail on the head. I think most Chefs feel the same way you do, I know I did. If I had to do it over agin I would build a restaurant that I could manage with as few employees as possible. After many years of thinking about this the business would be closer to a food truck or small breakfast and lunch diner. I would do everything like a short order cook, open kitchen concept. I got into my business because of my passion for food. I got out because I hated having to deal with uncaring employees that think I owed them a living. There is one thing I learned to tell my new hires during the interview. I told them if I hire you don't make your problems my problems. When you come into work I want 100% you. If you can't give me that then don't take the job. If there is anytime after you take the job you feel you can't give me 100% then don't work here. In order to be successful I need to be 100% to my customers always, not just when my employees feel like it.........Take care........Chef Bill

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Professional Chefs
ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › Professional Food Service › Professional Chefs › Professional Kitchen Management Philosophy