Our fourth objective for 2010:

  • To create a place our employees love to work

Restaurants are notorious for short-term, short-time, transient staff that turn over as often as flapjacks on the griddle of a Pancake Man fundraiser. Part has to do with the nature of the work, appealing to a young person who needs a job to fund other more stimulating interest, but I would be willing to bet that more often than not, staff leave a job because it’s just not a fun place to be.

There is a dermis of self interest in this objective, especially in the early days when I spent more waking hours in the kitchen than in my own home. If I am going to devote that much time to my labors, it better be a destination I look forward to showing up. If I dread getting out of bed in the morning to go to work at a place I created, I have become The Man for myself. I have written my own death sentence.

There should be more to any job than a two week paycheck. There needs to be camaraderie. There needs to be motivation to learn and grow in skill and knowledge. There should always be a chance to hear feedback, and always more positive than negative. Every good place of employment will seek to provide these elements and more. Productivity will be less of an issue to scrutinize when employees like what they do, and the people with whom they are doing the work.

It’s an honor to see my staff come back in on their days off, meeting with another coworker, to have a bite to eat. This says two things to me. One: “I still like eating the food I make and serve other people.” Two: “I don’t hate this place.” It does help that they can eat at a discount, but a markdown alone doesn’t go very far in changing an unenthusiastic attitude or opinion very effectively.

Ken Blanchard wrote an important thought years ago that has stuck with me from his little book on management titled, The One Minute Manager. He says “catch somebody doing something right.” Most employees only hear from the boss when they screw up, not when they’ve done a good job. I like to call it “seeing people.” I saw how you scrubbed cleaned the floor in the dishroom…I saw how you handled that customer with grace and kindness…I saw how you stayed late and got the rest of that prep done…Thank you. I appreciate it.

I have a great staff. They are the reason I can take today off without fret. They are the reason you had great bread and great soup at lunch. My staff facilitated the experience you had with your friends last Friday night. They are the reason you want to sit at the bar so you can chat with them and see the action up close.

I know I don’t say it enough, but thank you, Staff. We have a great place to work.

Objective #4 for 2010