Managing a foodservice crew is much like captaining a boat, a small kitchen-sized boat! Your staff are everything you need to keep yourself afloat and set on the right path. But what happens when someone jumps ship? And then another? If you can’t plug the holes, you’ll quickly be up to your ankles in sea water (or in your case, docket paper).
It’s common knowledge that hospitality harbours a working environment with a high turnover of staff. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, it does create problems for those in charge of steering the ship. As the foodservice industry hardly takes a day off, you should be swift in filling vacant roles, and getting your newcomers up to speed. If you’re a part of the process that onboards new staff, here’s our advice:
Attract the right attention
If you’ve gone through the stack of CVs and found nothing but inexperience and comical personal qualities, you’re probably going to need to post an ad somewhere. There’s two key parts to this:
Don’t rush the decision
With the fast-paced nature of foodservice, it’s easy to see why a chef might grab the nearest jobseeker to simply keep service running smoothly. But this can be a big mistake, for as hard as it is to find decent workers, it’s even harder to rid yourself of a bad one. Take the appropriate precautions (screening, reference checks, trialling) to ensure your talent matches up with what they’ve written on their resume. Anyone on Tinder knows that what you see, is often NOT what you get.
Keep the crew looped in and don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s possible they may have seen something you missed from a trial or had a different experience than you upon meeting a certain candidate. Once hired, make sure you spread the training around the team, rather than lumping someone with the task of showing the new kid all the ropes. This way you can see who they work with best (and who might be a distraction).
Keep checking in
It’s hard to catch a breather in hospo, let alone find time to talk to your staff privately. But this is a very important part of integrating a team member into the family. It might not be top priority stuff but when you see the opportunity to speak alone with the recent arrival, take it. They’ll say nothing when surrounded by co-workers who they want to impress. But a minute after work can allow someone to open up about what they’re really enjoying so far, and maybe some of the things they’re struggling with.
Patience in the eye of the storm
It’s probably a busy time of year, you’ve lost a key member of staff and you’ve finally found the right person to fill their shoes (or crocs). With other members of your staff tired from copping the extra workload, this new person better be ready. We’d strongly advise against the popular “throw them into the deep end” approach, as it’s actually highly ineffective. You know that there’s a million and one things to be done in the kitchen, but no one will be able to learn them all in a day. They’ll try, but will probably pick up some bad habits along the way. Give your new staff smaller jobs and have them repeat that job until they’re confident, and the knowledge is locked in.
The best crew is formed through patience, practice and chemistry. We hope that you’ve got a sturdy ship to tackle the turbulent waters that is hospitality. Because this industry is often sink or swim, as the captain you’ll be going down with the ship if it all falls to pieces. But maybe the next hire will be the glue that keeps it all together.