No matter where you are and what you do, your human resources will always be the core of any company’s operations.
Thus, you need to know how to properly manage your most precious resource, especially in restaurants where competition is cut-throat, and margins are very thin. To optimize your kitchen staff management, you need a grasp of the fundamentals discussed in this article.
The Benefits of Having an Organized Kitchen Staff
Before we discuss the best practices in organizing the management of your kitchen’s human resources, we need to establish why. Are there any benefits to having a well-organized kitchen staff? Turns out, there are quite a few, such as the following.
- Faster workflow. When your kitchen staff is well-organized, they can do their work better. You’ll be able to avoid redundancies, over-scheduling, and under-scheduling, and you’ll always have the optimal amount of staff in your kitchen at all times.
- Less ingredient waste. Well-trained kitchen staff knows how to minimize waste by making the best of their resources. Plus, if you can monitor your waste better, you can also reduce ingredient wastage.
- Better food quality. If your kitchen staff is managed in the best way, they can avoid unnecessary hindrances. This lets them focus on the task at hand, allowing better food quality out of your kitchen.
- Happier customers. Customer experience will be the most critical metric affected by improved organization in your kitchen. When customers get what they want when they want it, their experience in your restaurant improves and gives them a better impression of your service.
- Motivated employees. Employees who can continually put out high-quality work and don’t struggle with tasks will be motivated to come to work each day.
- Less stress for the manager. Organizing your kitchen staff might create more stress at first, but it’s going to save restaurant managers and owners plenty of headaches in the long run.
How to Manage Kitchen Staff Effectively
All restaurant managers want to have better-performing employees and less stress, but how exactly can you achieve this? Here are some tips.
Be Realistic About Hours
Once you hire great staff, good scheduling practices can play a big part in employee retention.
Scheduling kitchen and staff shifts can be especially challenging in restaurants when there are slow and busy periods throughout the day and the week.
Be sure to give staff plenty of time to prep before service begins. Make sure everyone knows what needs to be accomplished, the goals for the day, and what role they will be playing. It is also important to take the scheduling needs of individuals into account and try to make accommodations for when their schedule needs to be adjusted for special occasions.
Consider Giving Different Shifts
The general rule that most restaurant owners follow when scheduling restaurant shifts is to provide equal opportunities for new hires and senior staff so that they can experience different work hours.
Giving different shifts to your kitchen staff can have several clear benefits.
- Allows them to see which works best for them. Your kitchen staff, especially those who are still new in the industry, may not know yet where they can perform their best. Giving them the chance to try different work shifts lets them optimize their schedule, leading to improved employee experience and output.
- Gives them the ability to provide adequate input. Your senior staff can provide input on the different shifts that they’ve tried out. When work becomes too ritualistic, employees can fail to see solutions right before them. Assigning a different person to each shift puts people with new perspectives in a position to provide feedback.
- Trains them for different work hours. Different work shifts call for different responsibilities, especially the opening and closing hours. If you give your employees the chance to experience other shifts, they can better cover for other staff in case of an emergency.
Giving your kitchen staff different work shifts provides various benefits that are often left unappreciated. Although they’re not the most revolutionary advantages, these little things improve goes a long way in enhancing the employee experience and creating better employee workflow.
Allow for Flexibility
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the push for a more flexible work schedule has already started.
With the onset of the pandemic, the importance of a good work-life balance has been emphasized. Various research has revealed that people now prefer to keep a flexible work schedule, which helps employees maintain better work-life balance.
In an industry as demanding as the restaurant industry, offering a flexible work-life balance will give you an edge over your competitors.
Additionally, a better work-life balance is also good for employees for productivity. Various studies have shown that a balanced work-life gives employees plenty of benefits, such as less work stress, prevention of burnout, improved mental health, and better motivation.
Cross-training employees isn’t just something that is nice to have – it can be a downright necessity for your establishment.
All things considered, employees have a pretty narrow scope of the function in your restaurant. Most employees typically get to see only the aspects of the job that they personally work.
That said, despite this narrow scope, employees should know how to work together. Restaurant operations are teamwork, and it’s necessary and inevitable for your employees to know how to work with their co-workers.
Plus, there are also unavoidable situations when it becomes necessary for an employee to do another’s job. Think of peak hours in your establishment, a trend-driven surge of new customers, or some holiday sessions that drive up your customer count.
Lastly, cross-training employees can also be a necessity for critical skills that might not directly be part of their original training. For instance, you can perhaps cross-train your staff in first aid or enroll your managers in leadership seminars.
If you want your restaurant staff to level up in terms of their capabilities, cross-training them is a sure-fire way to get more skilled, better-functioning employees.
Foster a Supportive Environment
Providing an environment that promotes employee development and welfare is a great way to manage your kitchen staff.
One of the most prevalent complaints about the restaurant industry is that it is a dead-end industry with very limited paths for advancement. The lack of viable career paths is a significant reason why many restaurant workers refuse to return to their industry this post-pandemic.
Creating a positive environment for your staff will go a long way towards fostering a supportive one.
Wendy’s is a great example of this type of working environment. In 2018, Wendy’s was recognized as an Outstanding Workplace by the Transforming Data into Knowledge 2018 Global Best Practices Conference.
This is because of the multitude of programs that they have for their employees, such as paid bonding leave, adoption assistance, military support network, cultural diversity network, and more.
Although the previous examples are applied large-scale, you can create this kind of environment through smaller programs such as shift flexibility, listening to grievances, taking periodic constructive feedback, and more.
Set Goals and Expectations
Managing your restaurant staff won’t do much if you don’t have goals – or if you don’t set the right kind of goals.
Additionally, even if you do have goals, if your staff isn’t aware of them, they will be less likely to internalize your goals and share your vision.
To avoid this, share your restaurant goals with your staff and emphasize how important it is that they’re part of your journey. It’s a great way to motivate them to work towards attaining your restaurant’s definition of success.
In setting the right goals for your restaurant staff, remember to use the SMART framework: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound.
Every goal you have for your employees should tick off all those boxes. This can be applied to more than just your mission and vision statement, but also your short-term and long-term goals.
Showing employee appreciation is another way to create a positive work environment that increases retention rates.
Data from SHRM revealed that 91% of HR decision makers say that appreciation and reward positively impact retention. At the same time, lack of recognition, even if the employees did well, can affect their reasons to stay.
While not everyone can implement high-level and expensive employee appreciation programs, every employer can reward employees in their own way, such as providing them perks and handing out well-deserved promotions.
How to Train New Kitchen Staff
Learning how to manage kitchen staff effectively is great for established restaurants with employed workers. But what about smaller establishments that may not yet be fully staffed?
Whether you’re starting over from a pandemic-fueled purge or have only recently opened your own restaurant, here are some tips on how you can train new kitchen staff in the best way possible.
Start With the Basics
Kitchen staff training should begin with a good foundational background of their basic job flow: the necessary skills, specific demands of certain work hours, and even specific quirks of the job. Here are some things that might be necessary to put in the basic training.
- Emergency procedures
- Equipment operation
- Basic customer service
- Working the cashier
- Different roles in your restaurant
- Basic security procedures
Ensure that their training is a good mix of education/theory and hands-on application.
This type of training is perhaps the most popular among other restaurant owners, as learning on the job means that your new hires are working. Thus, they can still contribute to the bottom line and learn more advanced skills along the way.
However, it’s important to note that not all of your employees will perform well during on-the-job training. If not done right, this type of learning will add pressure to people who are not yet equipped to handle them, leading to increased stress and burnout.
Thus, remember to keep your new hire’s on-the-job training at a minimum while in a controlled environment.
Your new hires’ direct supervisors should be charged with giving formal training to new employees under their care. This is one of the most important types of training to consider, so much so that there should be a regular session in the new hire’s day or week just for formal training alone.
Remember to allocate a specific hour of the day, or day of the week, dedicated only to formally training your staff in their job roles.
Let Them Make Mistakes
Expect employees to make mistakes at the beginning of their training, especially if they’re completely new to the restaurant industry. Understand that the things they need to do are hard-won skills, and they’re not going to be able to develop them overnight.
Thus, be patient while you experience a slight dip in your productivity over your new hires’ onboarding and training period, but don’t worry because it will be worth it in the long run.
Feedback is one of the most critical aspects of your training: it’s the only sure way that employees know what successes and mistakes they’re making.
When giving feedback, it’s essential to be objective while maintaining an encouraging tone. Remember that your employees don’t know what they’re doing yet, so make sure to criticize the small things before you let them do bigger things about their workflow.
Lastly, ensure that you let your new hires experience all aspects of working in a restaurant. Cross-training them in your restaurant’s different roles is critical if you want them to have well-rounded work skills.
It also lets them experience the different jobs in your restaurant, which helps them better learn what works best for them.
Tips for Dealing With Difficult Employees
You’re not always going to have upstanding employees who are patient and willing to learn. Sometimes, you may be faced with a difficult employee, and there’s no way to avoid it. In many ways, it’s similar to dealing with a difficult customer – stressful, unproductive, and most of all, absolutely inevitable.
As a good kitchen staff manager, how are you going to deal with employees who are being difficult? Here are a few tips to help you out!
- Maintain professionalism. Regardless of what might happen along the way, always make sure not to criticize them on a personal level.
- Keep communication lines open. You must keep communicating with your troubled employees about their problems, as it’s the only way to learn how to improve.
- Follow up on consequences. When you set potential consequences on negative actions, make sure that you follow up on them.
- Accept employee feedback. There are always two sides to every story, so make sure that you also understand why employees are acting that way, which means frequently asking for their input about the matter.
- Be consistent. Consistency is the key when it comes to discipline and training. Make sure that your employees have sold rules and guidelines that are based on your values and principles.
How to Keep Your Kitchen Running Smoothly
Your staff is critical to your operations precisely because they’re the ones who run your restaurant for you. Now that you know the basics of kitchen staff management, you must know how this integrates into running your kitchen.
Have a System
When different people have different processes to follow to perform their functions, a system of integrated parts becomes necessary so that everyone can know how their output affects the whole. In this way, a system is necessary for your restaurant to operate at its best capacity.
In this case, a system is an organizational construct that takes into account all of the work processes of multiple parts of your restaurant.
The front-of-house, back-of-house, administrative staff, and everything else in between — having a system allows them to function as part of a unified whole instead of individual units within your restaurant.
Moreover, a system is also a routine set of tasks, all from different yet connected parts of your restaurant.
For example, making food and goods procurement are two separate things, yet your kitchen is inexorably linked to your inventory. Thus, you want to create a system that automates the function of both of these departments together, aside from the everyday routines of their tasks.
You should also do this for all of the other branches in the restaurant.
Restaurant technology has progressed a great deal in these past few years, and the onset of the pandemic and its effects accelerated the use of others. It has become more functional and accessible, making it much easier for you to take advantage.
Here are a few things you should consider adding to your establishment:
- Restaurant reservation software such as Open Table
- Shift scheduling software like 7Shifts
- POS systems like Square POS
- Inventory management systems such as Craftable
- Monitoring and security systems like Glimpse
Restaurant technology provides you with tons of benefits that can give you an edge over competitors. It can help you automate administrative tasks in specific niches of your restaurant, reduce training time, increase accuracy, minimize human error, and improve your bottom line. With security systems and software, you can also improve your establishment’s overall security and ensure your patrons’ safety.
Reduce Potential Hazards
A fast-paced environment such as a restaurant will naturally have many hazards, which means that you need to prioritize safety first and foremost in training staff or managing your restaurant. This is all the more critical during this time of the Covid-19 pandemic.
You need to minimize potential hazards whenever possible.
This is best done when you’re still in the startup phase of your restaurant, although small changes can still make a huge difference when you’re already established. Here are a few of the hazard areas that you can prioritize.
- Kitchen operations (knife safety, equipment safety)
- Health hazards (Covid-19 measures, sanitation protocols, hygiene)
- Structural hazards (slippery floors, steep inclines)
- Psychological and wellness (overscheduling, overworking, bullying and harassment)
- Chemical hazards (cleaning equipment, kitchen chemicals)
Keep Communication Open
One of the most important things to do when managing a restaurant is to keep communication lines open.
This doesn’t mean you need to chat with your employees throughout the day – instead, ensure that there’s an easy way for employees to contact supervisors or managers throughout their entire work experience.
Open communication allows for easier emergency responses. Your staff can easily update you on the latest crisis in the restaurant. In an industry as prone to crises as restaurants, responding immediately to situations is invaluable.
Moreover, allowing employees to talk to their supervisors freely helps make them feel heard and recognized. This increases trust, builds rapport, and improves employee experience.
Lead by Example
Leaders should walk the talk when it comes to restaurant policies, but you won’t believe how many managers expect other people to follow rules they exempt themselves from.
If you’ve set standards that must be followed, you must be above reproach.
This isn’t just the ethical thing to do; it also improves employee morale to have the confidence that their employers are in the same boat as them. You show this willingness to lead by example through a variety of different actions, such as:
- Follow through on promises. Whether boon or bane, knowing that they can trust your words is reassuring to your employees and helps them build confidence in management.
- Work with your team. Don’t just pay a token visit every once in a while. It’s important to show employees how much you’re working for the establishment. Open your office doors, come to work with energy, and never shy away from working the floor when needed.
- Follow the rules. You need to follow the guidelines you set just as much as they do and be open to reminders when your employees observe that you’re not.
- Trust your team. Trust is an integral part of running a restaurant, so have the confidence that you hired your team because you’re confident in their ability to do their part and follow the rules.
- Be open to feedback. Being a leader doesn’t exempt you from improving yourself. On the contrary, you have the bigger burden to improve yourself continually. Be open to constructive criticism about you or your establishment and incorporate any of those you find to have worth.
Managing Your Kitchen Staff in the Best Way Possible
Your kitchen operations are critical to your work in the restaurant industry. This means that you need to always find the best ways to manage them, or you will be bleeding from the insight. This is all the more true today when socioeconomic conditions aren’t the friendliest to the industry.
This article has shown you the best ways to manage your restaurant and your team. But if you want to take a step further, one of the best things you can do is to use Glimpse.
Glimpse is an automated video-auditing software that analyzes your CCTV footage and POS sales for you. Glimpse can detect drinks passing over the bar and verify if these are all accounted for on the POS, as well as how long the employee took to produce the drinks, ultimately improving your bottom line.
If you want to manage your restaurant better, keeping an eye on things is the best way — and Glimpse is the best way to do that. Try Glimpse out now!