Third Annual "The Best"

Employees

Training exercise we’ve done
DISC Training, which is training based on a four-quadrant behavioral model to examine the behavior of individuals in their environment or within a specific situation. Armed with the knowledge relating to how people respond to information and situations, people can transform their interactions and it provides a platform for understanding and improved communication.
—Tod Nissle, vice president of operations for Compass Group, Microsoft, Redmond, Wash.

Employee recognition program I’ve seen
The Black Linen Award program was developed after a university’s executive unique customer service experience. Ernie Huff, associate vice president of student financial and administrative services, was eating breakfast in a hotel, wearing dark slacks. After the waiter took his order, the waiter removed the white linen napkin that had been on the table. When the waiter returned, he placed a black linen napkin on the table. “Why?” Huff asked. The waiter said, “I noticed you are wearing dark slacks and the white napkin would have left lint on them.” [Huff] shared this experience with us to illustrate that great service is a result of three things: anticipating customer needs, finding solutions to those needs and acting promptly. To recognize an employee for his/her outstanding commitment to exceptional service, recipients of the recognition receive a beautiful black linen napkin encased in a wooden frame.
—Rafi Taherian, executive director of Yale Dining, Yale University, New Haven, Conn.

The best thing I’ve learned from a younger colleague
How to exploit social media in marketing to our customers.
—Bill Marks, director of food and nutrition services, Hennepin County Medical Center, Minneapolis

Team-building exercise we’ve done
Our managers prepare menu items in teams at our meetings. It gives them a chance to interact on the best way to prepare for why the kids would or wouldn’t like the items and what changes could make the item healthier or taste better. Anytime you can have your team interact about changes in your department, the change usually has a better result.
—Gail Koutroubas, food service director, Andover Public Schools, Andover, Mass.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
chicken and waffles

Our elementary menu is currently riding the breakfast-anytime advertising trend by offering Breakfast for Lunch every Tuesday. It ranks as our highest participation, and it was a great way for us to introduce chicken and waffles inspired by an IHOP dish.

Ideas and Innovation
rolling silverware

Ensuring that employees regularly complete the busywork missing from their daily checklist can be a challenge, but these tasks often help an operation run efficiently with fewer unexpected costs. At Methodist University Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., Regional Executive Chef Dustin Cochran has found a solution to ensure his walk-in coolers always have a clean vent. Cochran starts with a thorough cleaning of the vent, then slips a hairnet over it to catch the dust. Instead of getting employees to deep clean the vents, they need only replace the hairnet.

Ideas and Innovation
dress code geeks

Team uniforms are a way we encourage fun. I tell the mangers that every person on your team needs to look like a member of your team, but they can decide together what they want to wear. When the students see a cafeteria person that is matching and having fun with their outfits, they relate to those people better. We don’t want them to look stiff and stuffy.

Ideas and Innovation
oxford school district cafeteria

We have spent considerable money making cafeterias cool again. New paint jobs, crazy color patterns, custom graphics and changes in lighting schemes have made some of our cafes popular gathering places. We’ve also experimented with videos, cable TV programs and music. We involved a number of student groups and student input in improving the atmosphere, especially in our high school and middle school cafeterias.

FSD Resources