Drew Tait, Executive Chef of Kelly Greens G&CC, offers sound advice for those sticky situations when chefs must stand their ground diplomatically and effectively, to fight for your team’s best interests.
Have you ever had to fight for your team’s best interests or stick your neck out to ensure your people have everything they need to do their jobs correctly? I have, and I’m sure many of you have, too. Picking the right moment to do it can solidify your working relationship with your team as their leader, but it can also enhance respect from your Food and Beverage Director or GM.
As club chefs, we are always focused on doing what is best for the overall team. When you spend hours of your time building up these individuals, fostering an ideal environment for them to grown, shaping your associates, cross-training and mentoring them, you have to also always be on the lookout for when things begin to degrade teamwork and cause you to lose unity.
Addressing problems quickly and efficiently can make or break any chef’s success at a property. Keeping your finger on the pulse of the kitchen through your sous chefs and chef de parties is another critical step to keeping your team together and moving the entire program in the right direction.
Always having your sous chef’s back and supporting his or her decisions is extremely important to keeping them engaged in the goals of the club as well as working toward the team’s best interests.
If you do find yourself in a position where you have to fight for your team, make sure that you know all the facts and have as much information as possible. These two things are critical to making the best possible decision. Don’t assume anything. Talk to your team members to get a full understanding of the situation before you decide what to do. Make sure you can back up your decision and ensure that you are treating everyone fairly.
Being able to articulate why you made a decision can easily turn a bad situation into a good one where your team may learn something from the decision you made.
Being a leader is one of the most rewarding things a person can do; Being able to watch your team grow, learn and evolve is an amazing experience not everyone gets to partake in. Protecting the work you have done to create that team while pushing everyone to reach their goals and the goals of the property is a challenging task. But if you keep fighting for your teams, looking out for their best interests and doing what is right they will reward you with hard work, dedication and drive when you need them most.