Hiring new cooks can be expensive, but many clubs and resorts make the mistake of keeping an underperforming employee around for too long, which can often cause more harm than good.
Most executive club chefs would probably agree that having to let an employee go is one of the worst parts of the job, no matter how necessary or glaringly obvious letting them go may be. Knowing when to fire an employee or give that individual more time to grow and develop can be tricky. So how do you know when it is time to tell an employee goodbye, rather than when they may just need a little extra training and oversight?
Try to envision what the perfect team for a kitchen would be. Is the employee in question on that team? Would that person be hired if they applied for the job today? If they were to resign, would there be a fight to keep them on the team? Answering “no” to any or all of these questions is a good indicator that it is time to let the employee go. Often there are other candidates who can do the same job with a better work ethic, knowledge, and skill set.
Besides zero-tolerance policies, some other indications that an employee’s performance needs to be reviewed include member or coworker complaints, an unengaged attitude, lack of drive, and producing bare-minimum work. Underperformers can be toxic and keeping them around can affect the overall performance of a club kitchen and throughout the operation. If keeping the problem employee risks any top employees leaving out of frustration or other employees lowering their standards, you as Executive Club Chef, have a tough decision to make. However, if underperforming employees are consistently present in the kitchen, it may be time for a change in the hiring process or leadership.
Oftentimes it can be tempting to wait and hope that an underperforming employee will one day just completely “get it” and everything will fall into place. Unfortunately, waiting rarely works, and keeping the employee around for too long allows a bad situation to worsen. Hesitation can also cause a chef’s team to question his/her courage and credibility. Rather than waiting, a chef needs to address the situation as quickly as possible.
It is always best to have a conversation with the employee in question before making a decision to fire them. When a drop in productivity and quality of work is first noticed, invite the employee to a review to see if there is anything that has changed outside of that person’s control while also gaining insight on their experience working in the kitchen. However, if the employee is well-liked and has a positive contribution to the club, maybe there is another role within the club where they would excel.
Individuals are hired to fulfill a specific role within the kitchen and club, but those who are not meeting expectations or are having a negative impact on the rest of the team are best to be let go. It is an executive club chef’s responsibility to ensure a kitchen’s goals are being met, while also maintaining a motivating working environment that all employees can thrive in.