Making a Graceful Exit from Glenmoor CC

By | September 5th, 2018

As Executive Chef Penelope Wong begins the process of leaving Glenmoor CC, she is spending her final weeks being transparent and offering as much opportunity to her team members as possible.

The term “short-timer”, when used in reference to an employee, alludes to his or her mentality of being checked-out of daily responsibilities and abandoning all concern for the well-being of the company they are leaving behind.

As chefs, we’ve seen and interacted with dozens of short-timers first-hand.

On the rare occasion when a cook/employee follows through professionally by submitting two weeks-notice, it is not uncommon for this cook/employee to offer little effort in executing their daily duties and responsibilities. They are moving on to bigger and better things.

In the weeks that followed my official announcement of my own resignation, I’ve experienced a roller coaster of emotion and reactions. Mostly, the reactions I have received from both my team as well as many other club employees—from front-of-the-house to golf operations, as well as tennis and swim operations—have been a combination of shock, sadness, sincerity, and support.

On the other hand, I’ve also received a couple snide comments from members who had a poor experience because their eggs benedict with the sauce on the side was only lukewarm when it arrived at their table, asking, “Has the Chef checked out already?”

There have also been a few co-workers who have asked me, “Why do you even care? You only have X days left anyway…”

I’ve never understood the short-timer mentality, nor the individuals who take on this persona. In the hospitality arena, it’s shocking to me that someone would offer less care and concern for their job on their last day than they did on their first.

From the moment I made the decision to resign, I did so with one final goal in mind. I wanted to focus my remaining time and energy into preparing my staff for my departure. I wanted to instill something in them that would help keep the engines in gear. I’ve always been proud of my operations and have adamantly admired the way Glenmoor CC runs like a well-oiled machine.  Even now, as I type this blog and am officially into the last two weeks of my tenure here, my mind is consumed with what the next two weeks hold for me and how much more knowledge and tips I can cram into the brains of my team to help them continue to progress.

Many of them have been under my umbrella for so long that I’m excited to see how they continue to grow on their own.

The weekend prior to the announcement being made public to the membership, I made it a point to share the news with my team personally. I wanted them to hear it from me first. There were tears and sadness, gratitude and pride, motivation and inspiration. There was also a fear of the unknown. I saw tears from team members I never would have expected to cry. It has been humbling to discover how much I have touched the lives of these people and it has solidified the accomplishment of what I set out to do.

So what have I been doing to help prep my team?

I am a hands-on chef. I am very active in daily operations from prep to working the line to putting out banquets as well as maintaining the weekly schedules, purchasing responsibilities, accounting responsibilities and budgeting responsibilities. Several months before my resignation, I began acting on my plan. I began giving more and more responsibilities to my sous chefs. Weekly purchasing was broken into split responsibilities as well as overall delegating responsibilities and some menu responsibilities.

More recently, I’ve welcomed anyone who is interested in participating in the month-end inventory responsibilities and paperwork that goes with it to sit in with me. Many of my cooks who aspire to make the move to sous chef and exec chef understand the importance of these fundamentals and have jumped at the chance.

This has been a great opportunity to help coach management styles as well. I have a couple of first-time managers who are still trying to define their management style and it has been uplifting to watch them tackle new situations and pass on resources to them to help build and maintain momentum. Additionally, I began offering up opportunities for menu development. To allow my team to shine, I started asking them to come up with daily specials and menu items for specific member events. I wanted the membership to understand the sheer collaborative nature in the back of the house and that we are truly one solid team.

In all honesty, it’s been difficult for me to take a step back while I allow my team to begin their takeover.  It’s difficult getting out of the daily routine of checking off everything on my to-do list.  But at the same time, it’s been rewarding watching their confidence levels rise as they take on new responsibility and start to take ownership of these operations.

On a side note, it’s been rather interesting discovering and realizing how to work around the limits of certain team members to prevent a deterrent to the momentum of the others who want to be challenged.  I understand that not all individuals who work in a professional kitchen are in it because they all want to run their own kitchens one day. I am aware that there are certain individuals who are knowledgeable about how to cook and they do it for the paycheck.

However, I was utterly shocked to discover certain members of my team are completely complacent with their position and have no desire to progress. To help maintain the necessary forward-thinking progress of the team, I’ve put in additional effort in trying to break these individuals out of their habits. I’ve made attempts at involving them in the change and at seeing the bigger picture. Unfortunately, it is these individuals who inevitably eliminate their own opportunities.

In short, I have been more open and transparent than ever before. I had three members of my team apply for the position of Executive Chef. Being an active part of the recruitment process, I was proud to sit in on and interview these internal candidates as each of them exuded confidence in their visions for the future of the culinary program at Glenmoor CC.

The best part for me was seeing the camaraderie among the internal candidates and their collective passion to continue the momentum for the culinary program at Glenmoor CC. As I head into the final day of my role here, I will leave with the confidence of knowing that my sous chef has been prepped and trained and crammed full of knowledge. She is being given the opportunity to act as the interim chef with the support of her team. Before accepting the role of Executive Chef at Glenmoor CC fourteen years ago, I had two stints as acting interim chef. And I am thrilled for my sous chef and for what this opportunity will mean for her future and that of her team.

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