What will it take to see real change in the next generation?
Somehow, I got suckered into coaching my 8-year-old daughter’s travel soccer team. I played soccer in high school, and I enjoyed it, but I never saw myself as much of a coach. Crazy parent who goes wild when any of the kids do something great? Definitely me. But voluntarily teach a group of kids how to play soccer? Eh.
Turns out, I love coaching these kids. They’re amazing. Watching them evolve from a rag-tag group of newbies to a well-orchestrated team that wins games together has been incredibly rewarding.
I imagine chefs feel a similar rush when they mentor younger cooks. There’s a sense of pride in watching your people grow. There’s a responsibility in letting them fail. They learn. They evolve. They improve. They are grateful for your time and your effort. They are not perfect, but they are getting better.
Earlier this month, I recorded my very first podcast in our new series, “Club + Resort Talks.” You can find the series on Spotfiy, on our website and just about anywhere else you’d opt to tune in. I spoke with Jason McClain, Executive Chef of the Jonathan Club in Los Angeles. We talked about what he looks for in new hires.
“I want them to be moldable,” he said.
Later in the conversation, he talked about how he nurtures these cooks alongside his tenured employees. He gives back in myriad ways to improve their experience and ultimately improve their performance.
One thing that particularly impressed me is how McClain leads a meditation-and-stretch session for his team in the club’s banquet space. This gives everyone a chance to de-stress and dive in more clear-headed and prepared for whatever the day holds. He also has a library full of culinary books that anyone can check out. In both cases, he has found ways to allow his team to evolve and improve, without making it feel like hard work.
Everyone, everywhere is struggling to find and keep qualified staff. But if we all keep pouring ourselves into the next generation, maybe that’s the first step in righting the ship.
At our last soccer practice, I taught my team what it means to “play with a sense of urgency.” I told them that their bosses will thank me someday for teaching them this wise life-lesson. (They giggled. They’re 8.)
But really, if we invest our time and pass our knowledge onto the next generation and stop complaining about the work it will take to get them up to speed, I think we’ll start to see real change.