You’ve earned it; you’re organized, a recognized team leader, and competent anywhere you’re needed in the kitchen. There’s a lot to handle, and too often you can get swept away by the day-to-day needs of the kitchen and lose sight of the big picture.
We’ve put together a list of seven habits successful kitchen managers have to help reinforce your leadership skills. We’re not going to talk about ordering and inventory procedures; that should already be a part of your routine. Rather, this addresses ways to build a better, cohesive team and improve your kitchen’s culture.
Let’s dive in.
Moving from a cook to a kitchen manager the career progression many cooks pursue. However, it is important to recognize that as a kitchen manager, your duties are now shifting towards administrative responsibilities. Prepare to spend more time focusing on ordering, inventory, hiring (and firing), and training your team, but be ready to jump back in where needed when the line gets busy.
Staffing is challenging enough already. Staying on top of scheduling is about more than keeping your kitchen staffed, but showing your team you respect their time outside of work. Work-life balance is especially important in the service industry to keep team members from getting burned out. Working with your team to establish a somewhat regular schedule can help them achieve this balance. However, set boundaries and expectations; you’re the boss, you ultimately make the schedule. Strive to have your schedule posted a minimum of four days out; ten is even better. The earlier you post, the more time you have to react to staffing shortcomings.
Especially when staffing is tight, it can be tempting to let new hires fill gaps in the schedule they aren’t adequately trained to fill. Letting a new team member develop bad habits or cut corners early in their training only causes trouble down the road. Good training is a proactive measure against high variance. Take time to follow up with new hires after each shift, monitor the quality of their work, and don’t be afraid to provide constructive feedback.
As much as you may want to handle prep, ordering, or training yourself, you really can’t. Becoming comfortable delegating tasks can be a difficult step to take for new a kitchen manager. Try delegating more extensive prep projects or training to your more experienced team members, and simpler tasks to your less experienced ones. This relieves some pressure off and frees you up for administrative work and long-term projects. Be sure to walk team members through the process the first couple of times to ensure their work is consistent with your standards. Team development like this helps get team members more invested in their work and builds their value as an employee.
When possible before service, when most of your team is on the clock, take ten minutes to briefly meet with them as a group. In an organized manner, talk about specials, 86’d items, cleaning projects, and identify needed maintenance. This meeting is an ideal time to get constructive feedback about what is working, what needs addressing, and ensure everyone is on the same page with new dishes or systems. Also, use this time to highlight outstanding performances on your team. Above all, try and stay positive, as these powwows can set the tone for the shift.
You’ve worked hard for your position as kitchen manager and put a lot of effort into your work, so sometimes it can be difficult to listen to feedback. Keep in mind that without a team and without customers, you wouldn’t have a business. If your team is struggling to adapt to a system you’ve put in place, or you receive repeated feedback from guests on a specific dish, recognize that perhaps it is not working. Don’t take it personally, but stay cool and consider options on how to improve it. Ultimately, the goal is to have a team that enjoys coming to work and repeat customers.
Although keeping up with industry news might just seem like another task to add to your to-do list, it’s important to know what’s going on in the industry. Staying informed will help you make better decisions and spot trends early on, giving you an edge over your competition and maintaining profitability. This is an important part of your development as a manager. As a kitchen manager, you’re expected to be an expert in your field. Since your team looks to you for expertise, it’s important that you be a source of wisdom and guidance.
To stay up to date with industry news and best management practices, take a look at some of our other blog articles. If you have further questions about how to improve your kitchen, schedule a free consultation with one of our product specialists.