Questions asked by chefs to the General Managers’ panel were typical of what’s on the minds of all staff members who want to grow in their positions and within your organization.
As our Chef to Chef Conference has grown, we’ve had to make some adjustments to make sure those attending always have plenty of opportunity to ask questions and interact freely with presenters and other registrants. Even with the Conference now three times as big as when we started in 2008, we’ve stayed very conscious of how important it is to still make it easy for everyone to get full value from the interchanges that have always been a big part of the Conference’s appeal.
That’s why for the past two years, we’ve split up into breakout sessions for our popular “Chef to Chef Live” open forums. And during general-session presentations, we’ve introduced a texting feature that lets questions be sent in at any time. This has made it easier for presenters to take the questions within the flow of their demonstrations, and has also helped us make sure more voices from the audience are heard (running around with microphones was getting much more difficult with the bigger groups, plus we found that many people have preferred sending in the texts, which are anonymous, rather than raising their hands).
A side benefit of going to texting is that it’s generated a permanent record of the many questions that we now get during the Conference. This not only helps us plan future content, both for the Conference and the magazine, but serves as useful and instructive information on its own.
For example, here are some questions that were asked by chefs to the General Managers’ panel in the final session of this year’s Conference. To me, these should be of interest to any GM or department head, as indications of the type of things that are on the minds of all staff members, and of what they want to learn to grow in their positions and within your organization.
With many of these questions, in fact, you could just substitute superintendent or fitness director or any other position for chef (which is why I’ve put [chef] in brackets in many of them), and they’d help you get a read on things that are of concern to many on your staff or within your department. I can even see the value of using these questions as good jumping-off points for training exercises or “360-degree” evaluations:
– How can a general manager help the [chef] become more comfortable communicating and interacting with members?
– What specific skills does a GM need that [chefs] may be weak on?
– How do you deal with the members who are never happy and always complain?
– When there is friction among upper management staff, do you feel a GM should step in?
– What are your three top pet peeves with [chefs] that we need to do better resolving?
– How should you deal with managers who are ineffective communicators?
– Where can [chefs] learn about golf, greens, tennis, membership and accounting, to help broaden their club-management knowledge?
(For this last question, by the way, our Publisher Bill Donohue didn’t wait for the GMs on the panel to answer; he quickly provided his own, which I wholeheartedly agree with: “Read Club & Resort Business cover to cover each month.”)