Every businesses success is a result of the strength of their team. In every sector, all members of the team must work collaboratively towards their goals; and it’s even more vital in hospitality.
Your kitchen team and as an extension, the serving team, need to be fast, efficient, considerate to one another, and most of all – enjoy what they do.
A hospitality team who lacks in any of these areas is at risk of breaking down, which can lead to more significant problems such as the loss of your top chef.
Today I want to share with you some of my insights as to why a lack of teamwork and poor management in kitchens across the UK is driving chefs to leave for pastures new.
Great chefs are in high demand in the UK, with a recent report revealing that 20,000 chefs (roughly 10% of the UK hospitality workforce) are leaving the profession every year.
While there may be many individual reasons behind qualified chefs leaving the industry, from the experience I have in this sector, a lot of the time it is down to poorly managed kitchens. The best chefs are migrating to places where kitchens are well managed, with a great team and a strong sense of camaraderie.
And there are plenty of places for chefs to turn to. An increase in awareness of mental health and wellbeing in the workplace, especially in the hospitality industry, has meant that employers are changing the way they operate. A poorly-treated chef now has far more options than ever before to find a conscious employer and a place where they fit better into the company culture.
Ask any great chef what’s the one thing they aim to get from their work, and they will usually say that delivering their best food to diners every day is their top priority.
A lack of teamwork in your hospitality team affects the customer in two ways – firstly, they can often pick up on the fact, and sometimes even see first hand when a team is underperforming. This can come in the form of slow or unfriendly service, and customers might hear or see team members interacting negatively towards one another (particularly in places where the customer can see into the kitchen) but secondly, and most importantly to the chef, the customer is at risk of receiving less-than-perfect food if the kitchen team have not been performing competently.
In the age of the online review, a great chef will not stand to work somewhere that continues to receive critical reviews as a result of sub-standard dishes or service, as this will damage their reputation.
Chefs as Leaders
Even if you have an alternative restaurant or kitchen manager in your establishment, chefs are natural-born leaders, and when they are in the kitchen, they command the respect of all of their team.
An effective kitchen is one where the station chefs work seamlessly to the head chef’s high standards, even if it is in their job description to take direction from additional managers.
This can sometimes confuse and can lead to frustrations both from the chef and the rest of the management team.
Set down ground rules with your chef and the whole team regarding who manages who, so there’s a clear hierarchy and so that your chef doesn’t feel undermined.
Managing chefs is not always the most straightforward task, but being clear about the rules of the kitchen and the wider company will eliminate any feelings of unrest when it comes to procedures and processes.
How to Build a Strong Kitchen Team
To avoid losing a great chef due to problems with your team, take on board the following strategies–
- Start with your team. If you know there are weaknesses in your organisation, what can you do about it? Do your staff need more training? Do they need reminding of their duties, or something more serious such as disciplinary action? This should always be the last resort, but it is sometimes necessary to create the high-performing team your organisation needs.
- Reward staff for hitting targets or getting through busy services unscathed. Knowing that you will acknowledge and reward high performance in the kitchen will be an incentive for them always to bring their ‘A’ game.
- Create an enjoyable place to work. As a manager or owner, it is in your best interest to ensure that your staff are engaged and happy in their roles. It is not only beneficial for your employees to enjoy coming to work, but it also increases their productivity – it’s a win-win.
- Talk to your chef. Ask them if they have any issues with the kitchen or the team that you can help iron out.
A great head chef is the backbone of any catering establishment, so make sure that you keep hold of your best talent by supporting them with the best team possible.
For further reading on this subject, we have created a guide for catering employers on how to build a high-performing kitchen brigade, which you can download for free here. It contains more detailed information on how to employ and train the right staff for your business.
About KSB Recruitment
We are expert recruiters in the catering and hospitality industry with over 28 years in business, placing the best candidates in their perfect roles with an obsessive attention to detail.
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We specialise in roles in Birmingham, Staffordshire, the West Midlands, Warwickshire, Oxfordshire, Worcestershire and Northamptonshire.