The New Staffing: Survival Tactics That WorkWritten by Susan Dunn, MA, The EQ Coach
If you've ever been in marketing, you know it's in your blood, and it never leaves. It's also innate to most successful business owners and managers; that constant monitoring of what's going on, with eyes, ears, nose and throat of consumer. I'm reminded of Conrad Hilton's wife who said she refused to travel with him. The founder of Hilton chain, he couldn't enter a hotel without taking mental notes and giving a running commentary.
Having spent a number of years in marketing in my earlier career years, I'm same way. I never walk into a store, hotel, or restaurant without moving into my "observing ego position" and noting my reactions as a consumer. In other words, I notice things.
Now, bad management is a no-brainer -- waiting 30 minutes for an appetizer, or being insulted or ignored by a sales clerk. But it's often smaller, more subtle, mistakes that will cumulatively sink a business. When doing marketing for a living, I never took on an account without visiting place and looking it over, preferably unannounced and incognito. It reveals a wealth of information you can't get from spreadsheets, intellectualized marketing plans, or conversations with "suits" located in a headquarters' office thousands of miles from scene of crime, as it were. It's crucial to be able to put on a "consumer" hat and find out what it feels like to walk into your organization or place of business and see how you're treated. Note: This is NOT same as announcing that CEO is coming for an inspection or a visit.
Many businesses are having problems these days with staffing and I saw a unique solution other day. Establishments that run close to 24/7, and experience "peaks" and "lulls" face a particular challenge. Some have switched to offering 4- and 6-hour shifts to employees, but this had a new spin on it.
AN INTERESTING SOLUTION
I happened into my favorite cafeteria other day after not having been there in a month or two, and it was like walking into a completely new place. I enjoy eating at this cafeteria now-and-then, for all reasons people like a good cafeteria. I try and avoid peak times there, but I've hit them often enough to see what a challenge they have when people are lined up winding around to door.
I usually go at an off-time, when there may be only 2 or 3 of us in line, and here's what happens. The 2 (or 3) of us grab our trays and then stand there. There's someone down by vegetables, but obviously salad isn't their thing. Eventually someone comes from back (the kitchen) or side (takeout orders) and gives us a salad. They disappear back to where they came from, and we move down to meat, where there is again, no one. The vegetable person calls someone from back. And so it goes.
When we get to register at end, there's no one there. This person may be out wiping tables, or in kitchen filling those little plastic containers with horseradish. Later, when it's time to pay, it's same thing. The person who should be at that register is not.
Therefore, paradoxically, it can take longer for me to complete meal process at a lull time than at a peak time.
Last week I walked in at a lull time and couldn't believe what I saw. I loved it! Now - consider that as a consumer statement. The change was palpable and grabbed my attention and I knew, intuitively, it was a good one. Wouldn't you like that to happen in your place of business?
There were 5 fresh young faces behind counter and they were smiling. I would say these teenagers serving food were at minimum legal age of hire. Those of us in line had smiles on our faces as "kids" dished up food, asked impossible questions, passed things wrong way, and didn't seem overly concerned. My feeling, as a consumer who sometimes will complain to a manager, was "Now who am I going to yell at? Not these kids. How could you fuss? They don't know any better. And besides, they're pleasant"
So You Want to be a Chef?Written by Adam Fletcher
Chefs often question, warn, or even outright discourage individuals from seeking to join their ranks. I believe this emanates from people frustrated with their dead-end, cubicle-trapped jobs, plopped on their Sunday couches watching Emeril “bam” his way through a couple dishes, and saying to themselves: “I could do that.” These amateur cooks naively believe that there is a correlation between preparing homemade or TV meals and professional kitchen. Worse yet, they may have stars in their eyes. My friend Claudia who teaches culinary journalism, often comments about how pupils in her class “all think they’re gonna be next Ruth Reichl.”
I don’t think it’s these individuals’ dreams per se that ruffle feathers of culinary professionals. Rather, I believe it is their lack of appreciation for incredible amount of difficulty that lies ahead to even come within sight, if ever, of such aspirations. Even people with no goals of stardom, who just wish to cook professionally, may lack an appreciation for disparity between their home kitchen and real world. Network and Web I am not here to discourage anybody. I am simply going to give you naked truth. You decide what to do with it. Forget being a celebrity chef for moment. If you just simply aspire to be a professional chef, expect years of working 50+ hours a week, nights, weekends and holidays, for limited pay, in high stress situations. New Users
Still not discouraged? OK, let’s start at beginning. Should you attend culinary school? Well, it’s not absolutely necessary. Experience is ultimate teacher. But education coupled with experience is even better. But here’s another point of contention with professional chefs. They abhor people fresh out of school who think they know it all. Learning about a dish and making it once or twice in school is nothing compared to person who’s done it 400 times. Although there’s a cerebral component, learning how to cook requires acquisition of numerous physical skills. These skills can only be successfully achieved from repeatedly performing them. Schooling will give you a good platform from which to begin, and make you more hirable. But it is only start.
Next, you won’t go from school to behind line making entrees. Oh no. You will do more than your share of “scut work” first. Forget your homemade meatloaf and potatoes. Think standing on your feet for hours on end filling raviolis, cleaning artichokes, peeling boxes of asparagus, gutting 50 lobsters, etc., and being expected to perform these monotonous, mechanistic chores with assembly line speed and accuracy. Setup and Deployment