How can I make sure employees have an open line of communication to share ideas, concerns and feedback with me?
Our role as an operator is to be the orchestra leader. It’s my job to say, “OK, the violins are coming in a little stronger, so the percussion needs to simmer down a little bit.” Too often, we as managers get sucked into our operations so that we can’t see the big picture, and that’s our own fault. Your employees have to see you in a leadership role, and that you see the impact from one department to the next department.
It really is a dance in the kitchen to bring all partners together at the beat of the music. That’s communication at its best. You don’t have to be walking the floor eight hours a day, but as your major shift changes come in, I would make it a point to go through the kitchen. I’m not micromanaging, but I’ve always got their back. There’s nothing we are going to do—other than poisoning the food—that we can’t fix. There is some stability and comfort in knowing that.
Also, after any large event or new menu cycle, we do a debriefing. NASA does it; we should be doing it. What we need to do as managers is to slow down and listen.
Associate Professor, Business Management
The Culinary Institute of America