Last week’s topic was about the many areas where a chef’s decision-making is used.
His decision making does not solely revolve around cooking. Although they may not be specific to cooking, per se, the chef takes on various roles that significantly impact food and service quality.
Decision making can be a mentally exhausting responsibility. However, there is a way for a chef to make this task easier for him. Like in food preparation, kitchen tools and equipment appropriately used can help speed up processes and minimise the risks of errors and accidents. When we talk about decision making, a chef can use a different kind of tool (so to speak) to help him. It is the human kind: It’s his kitchen staff. His kitchen crew. His kitchen team.
How? By empowering them.
When a chef empowers his team, he is moulding a group that shares common dreams and goals. This makes for a unified direction where every kitchen team member knows what the chef expects and can address situations on their given level or sometimes even beyond.
Empowering a kitchen team involves systems that are well placed and confidence in making these systems complement one another.
1. Good and adequate training
When your kitchen staff is trained well, they are equipped with the knowledge and skills to rectify a situation they face even before it escalates for a chef to step in.
The well-trained staff knows the WHAT, WHEN, WHERE and HOW of things that can help execute a task correctly. Most importantly, the well-trained staff knows the WHY of things. They see the rationale for every action to justify a procedure and avoid the risks of doing shortcuts.
The kitchen staff who understands the importance of adequately thawing frozen food is more likely to follow the correct procedure since they know that improper shortcuts can be a food safety issue. A chef no longer needs to dictate the proper steps to safely thaw, allowing the chef’s precious time and attention to direct to more pressing kitchen tasks.
Training should include setting scenarios that trainees can identify with as part of their job responsibilities.
And even after the initial training is over, the team’s skills must be kept on point, even enhanced. Encourage mentorship setups, where the junior staff is paired with senior staff, and the former is guided towards improvement.
However, not all well-trained staff will react similarly despite having the know-how to resolve a problem.
This leads us to…
2. Engagement with the team in the decision making
Sometimes, even a well-trained kitchen staff will not take the initiative to decide on something if they have no idea what the chef’s expectations are. When a chef engages his team and discusses how he comes up with a decision, his team becomes in tune with the situation at hand and what the expected actions are. When a chef engages his team further and includes them in decision making, his team may feel valued. When a chef displays inclusivity in the decision-making process, the team develops a better understanding of systems and protocols to create the best possible decision.
3. Trust and Feedback
Trust is a potent motivator. A kitchen staff who receives the chef’s trust is likely to feel confident in assessing a situation and coming up with a decision.
But, since trust is earned, one has first to prove that he/she is capable of finding solutions independently.
More importantly, the chef should also be aware that he can only expect a level of decision making that corresponds to the staff’s competency. He cannot expect someone to make decisions on issues that are beyond their given responsibilities.
Suppose a kitchen staff has asserted himself to decide on something beyond his scope of responsibilities. In that case, the chef has to discuss this later for feedback, whether the result of the decision has been positive or negative. You do not want an empowered staff to decide on issues because he/she felt so boldly. There should be a system in place to ensure clear and open communication lines to avoid confusion.
Having an empowered kitchen team can help reduce the chef’s stress on decision making. An empowered kitchen team can create solutions independently. Empowering your team takes time and dedication, but when done so, it creates a workplace where each kitchen team member thrives, feels supported and valued, and capable of contributing towards a unified goal.
Anytime Chefs has a roster of skilled profesional chefs who can adapt to varied kitchen scenarios, whether independently or as part of a team. We aim to support food businessowners by reducing the stress of finding the right help whether for short time or full time. Give us call and discover more of what we can offer.
That’s it for this week.
As always, Professional Chefs on Call at Anytime!
Ciao for now,