Invest in face-to-face time. It will help your food-and-beverage program—and it might make you and your team happier.
Think about your best friend. Maybe it’s someone you grew up with or met in school. Maybe it’s someone you work with or live near. Whatever the case, that relationship was built by spending time together.
Now, think about how much free time you have, especially when one of your line cooks calls in sick or you’re in the heat of your busiest season. You’re stressed. You’re rushed. And it’s much easier to fire off a text message or an e-mail to the dining room manager than it is to sit down in her office.
Don’t get me wrong—technology is great and it can be incredibly valuable. But it should not be your default means of communication with the people on your team.
When I interviewed Scott Craig, Director of Culinary Operations/Executive Chef of Myers Park Country Club in Charlotte, N.C., about how to manage the front of house/back of house dynamic (see How Clubs are Uniting the Front and Back of House), he said something that took me by surprise.
I asked him what the biggest challenges are in managing this relationship.
He said, “My really honest response is that chefs, by nature, are counter-culture and competitive. It’s easy to see peers as competitors. And it’s hard to overcome that mindset.”
If that’s true, the ambiguity of an e-mail or a text could have a profound impact if it’s misread or misinterpreted.
Chef Craig and I talked about how relationships are the root of success, and how building a culture that instills fairness, trust and honesty not only creates a more enjoyable place to work, but one that is filled with loyalty.
He went on to share a story about how, when he was at the Chevy Chase (Md.) Club, he and the club’s Food & Beverage Director were good friends. He told me how he invested in that friendship, as he does with all relationships, knowing her interests and about her family. She did the same for him.
He’d make it a point to go into her office and not discuss work. Instead, they’d catch up on their kids or talk about what they did on their day off. By being friends, work became more fun and more productive, and the whole team became more unified.
So commit to it. Invest in face-to-face time. It will help your food-and-beverage program—and it might make you and your team happier.