Kelly Greens G&CC’s Executive Chef Drew Tait is working hard to keep his team goal-oriented as they make a positive impact on the membership.
This time of the year here in Southwest Florida, we are busy. Actually, the word busy kind of understates what we actually deal with. It’s high season. It’s crazy. It’s insane. And it’s FUN. This is when the majority of our members are in town enjoying the beautiful weather and partaking in a variety of amenities. We stay busy through April as we do every year, then like a light switch, everyone leaves for the summer.
All of us in the F&B industry know that season is hard. Some years, it’s better than others. But each one requires dedication, perseverance and sheer grit to make it through.
We will work 13 to 15 hours a day, 6 to 7 days a week just to stay ahead on prepping for upcoming functions and working a la carte service. It is stressful not only because of the volume at the club but because everyone gets tired, sore and physically beat up. This can lead to our team members getting on each other nerves, snapping at one another and getting frustrated with their “second family.” Then you add dealing with bad drivers and traffic everywhere you go, not seeing our families for long stretches of time, missing out on birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays all the while dealing with a demanding membership.
This is when it’s important as leaders that we keep our team focused and goal-oriented while we work our way through season. We have to insulate our team from negativity, cheer the positive and keep our eye on the prize. We get the opportunity to make the biggest impact on our member’s lives during the next 4 weeks while showing them new and exciting food and treating them to different events. But to be able to achieve these goals for our members we have to make sure we’re taking care of our team. This year we have had challenges getting seasonal staff. This is mainly due to low unemployment and a high demand for food service employees in our area. Because we are either understaffed or have just enough people to cover all of our stations the team’s abilities are stretched as more pressure is placed on the existing team to perform at a high level for longer periods of time.
I’m proud to say that we have been kicking butt so far this year, we have had a few hiccups here and there but overall it has been a really good season. We’ve rolled out new menus, enhanced our cooking processes in the kitchen and generally tried to take the level of cooking here to the next level. But I know from experience that the hardest part is yet to come. I need to be on the lookout for burnout with-in the team and help to manage everyone’s emotions when they start to bubble to the service. We also need to do everything we can to keep everyone healthy. Fortunately, the club provides Tell-a Doc to all of our employees and their family’s for free. If someone does get sick they can get it addressed right away even if they don’t have insurance. But unfortunately we know that things happen that are out of our control, people or their family members get sick or hurt. When this happens we have to realize that if someone needs time off to deal with something we need to do our best to make that happen. They will be a better, more dedicated employee if we take care of them during these challenging times.
Along with keeping the team healthy, we need to keep them motivated and driven while dealing with the physical and mental stress of the high season. I try to check in with everyone on a daily basis, watch their quality of work and interactions with others and generally get a temperature of the kitchen team to see how everything is going. This allows me to be on the lookout for percolating issues and get out in front of them before they become a huge problem. Staying proactive and engaged even when you’re slammed with menus, budgets and dealing with members is the best way to lead your team though busy challenging times. Reward them, encourage them, support them, praise them, guide them and teach them.
Soon season will be over, it will slow down and everyone will be able to catch their breath. Will see our families, mend our bodies and start to prepare for next season when will do it all over again.