Posts Tagged ‘Staffing Doctor’

Grinding Toward Green: Getting staff to buy in and jump in

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012
Chase LeBlanc R.L. ASKS…
How should I go about training green kitchen practices to stubborn, entrenched kitchen staff?

The most basic mistake that fast-moving organizations make over and over again is starting a discussion about proposed organizational changes (of any kind) by asking, “How do we get them to do X?” Ideally, you should begin to approach systemic change with the question “How do we get them to want to do X?” which is also known as creating easy workflow.The first step to answering that question is to ask the constituency. Gather all the facts and figures that make the best case for the proposed changes and have a meeting with the kitchen leaders/forepersons/ defacto leaders or the whole traveling gypsy kitchen band and frame the problem in the following manner: “We have to climb up this green mountain together.”

Contrary to the usual approach, leave out the part where you dictate the “proper” path. In the beginning of a change cycle, you will be far better served by asking for suggestions and allowing for group wisdom, experience, and skills to build a path forward. This frames the desired outcome as “our” problem, not “your” problem.

See what suggestions they might have on the best path to get to where you’d like to be. Maybe they have been waiting for someone to ask them to open up about going green and they’ll have tons of ideas, or maybe your effort will just be met with stone silence. No matter, kick the whole thing off with a nondirective- infected conversation. If you invite ideas and participation in the planning stages, it will almost always be met with a warmer welcome than simply telling employees how it’s going to be.

Eliminating input from those who do the work greatly diminishes your chance for buy-in and, in reality, any chance for the team to personally self-identify with the coming changes (“Hey, we thought of that…”).

Secondly, you have to grease the skids. After all of the priorities, standards, and procedures have been decided, it is imperative that you provide the training, support, and tools to do the job (in the new fashion) correctly. How will you make it easier to follow the transition? Of course, incentives will help if uniformly applied, but most folks wish to do the job right.

Clarity in a fast-paced, everchanging environment can be hard to come by. If you wish to enable a smooth transition from where you are to where you’d like to be, paint a clear picture of what a “win” looks like in the new phase, why it matters, how much the efforts of the contributors count toward success of the program, and the compelling logic of doing the new procedures within the new priorities paradigm.

I know that while many organizations and individuals will balk at the above suggestions and have a list of reasons why it’s not practical for their situation, ANYTHING that narrows the gap between “us” and “them” increases your chances of realizing your green dream change objectives.

Chase LeBlanc is the founder and CEO of Leadagers, LLC, and is a hospitality management performance coach with more than 25 years of experience. He is also the author of High Impact Hospitality: Upgrade Your Purpose, Performance and Profits!


Check Yourself | The Top-5 Bad Things You Can Avoid

Thursday, March 8th, 2012


Check Yourself | The Top-5 Bad Things You Can Avoid

Hotel F&B November/December 2011

Chase LeBlanc “Expect the best but prepare for the worst” is a well worn but useful adage for our industry. The following are my top five bad things that can be avoided with proper preparation, priorities, and training/development.

  • Food-borne illness. A prep cook changed his baby’s diaper at home just prior to his shift. He was running late, forgot to wash his hands, and as soon as he got to work, jumped right into prepping lettuce for salads. That one unsanitary act (1) made about 20 people sick, (2) led the local TV newscast after the Super Bowl, (3) cut property sales in half by the next day, and (4) left the survival of the business touch-and-go for about 18 months. Boom, just like that! In our business, you must become a food safety fanatic.
  • Liquor license suspension or revocation. A bartender hoping to impress an attractive member of the opposite sex slides the “customer” a few drinks without checking his or her ID. Just so happens that the customer is an underage/undercover operative, and it is a sting operation. Boom, just like that! It’s a citation for the bartender with possible fines and a violation of the liquor licensing laws, unleashing a torrent of hassles. You must set a serious tone among all employees; the service of licensed beverages is a privilege and a heavy responsibility. Do not treat it lightly or allow others to do so. One misstep can put the property permanently out of the spirits business.
  • Robbery with injury. A friend of mine took a new job as a closing manager. The first week on the job, he walked out to the dimly lit parking lot after buttoning things up and was met by a man with a gun who marched him back inside. Boom, just like that! They spent many scary minutes together as my friend fumbled the safe dial before giving over the money and getting a crack on the head in return. No amount of money is worth someone getting hurt. Do all the things you can do to deter a criminal act, such as brilliant parking lot lights, strict back door entry procedures, frequent lock changes, daily bank deposits, only opening the safe when the office door is closed, secure smoke break areas (if any exist), video surveillance, and consistent diligence.
  • Accidents. An elderly guest slipped, fell, and broke her hip on a wet bathroom floor. A cook slices off a fingertip on an unguarded kitchen fan. Boom, just like that! If a guest or team member is ever at risk of injury, you must fix or repair the problem immediately. A negligence lawsuit (translation: your group can lose big money) originates from a problem that you knew about, or even should have known about but chose to ignore or deny. Push for nonslip footwear, heavy-lifting back supports, etc. From a business culture perspective, constantly build, reinforce, and reward a safe, accident-free mindset.
  • Harassment. I have had friends who were too old, new, wide, light, dark, etc.—and have suffered through the impossible difficulties of workplace harassment. The ideal workplace culture should be all for one and one for all with diversity viewed as an immense plus and an opportunity for new knowledge, rather than a wall between “us” and “them.” Your team or tribe cannot tolerate anyone being harassed because of his or her gender, sexual orientation, religion, mental/physical challenges, age, and so forth. If you ever find yourself challenged by doing the right things when it comes to others at work, you could start by changing your point of view. View all people by our sameness from the inside out, not the apparent differences from the outside in. We all bleed red; we all breathe the same air; we all roll on the same earth. Or, you could just pause for a moment and reflect on this: Would I want my girlfriend, wife, mother, daughter, son, brother, father, or boyfriend to have to take this smack I’m dishing out?

The unexpected can happen anywhere, at any time. Proper preparation, priorities and training won’t stop all the bad things from happening, but proactive actions almost always lead to better results than reactive actions do.

Chase LeBlanc is the founder and CEO of Leadagers, LLC, and is a hospitality management performance coach. He is also the author of High Impact Hospitality: Upgrade Your Purpose, Performance and Profits!

Hotel F&B Magazine December 2011 | Review of “High-Impact Hospitality”

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

Book Review: “High-Impact Hospitality” by Chase LeBlanc

Recommended for anyone making a career in hospitality or wishing to take their employees to a higher level.
Hotel F&B professionals who want to increase both their compensation and career satisfaction should read High Impact Hospitality by Chase LeBlanc, HOTEL F&B’s “Staffing Doctor.” This is a marvelous read: funny yet wise, inspiring but practical, combining LeBlanc’s considerable hands-on hotel experience with sound gut instincts.

He begins by defining the two key roles every F&B pro should strive to fill, those of manager and leader, explaining how they are different and complementary. He calls people who have achieved this dual competence “Leadagers.” These professionals are adept at both “hard” management tasks such as cost control and scheduling and also excel at “soft,” almost artful, ways of thinking and acting for the good of themselves and their “tribe” (as he refers to the entire staff).

So how does one become a Leadager? LeBlanc weaves these hard and soft objectives together throughout the book. In “Make More Dough,” he lists several creative ways to increase your value, such as being a sunshine-maker, a business mechanic, a shepherd, a trustee, etc. In “Duality Maze,” he talks of organizational realities and pitfalls, how to avoid working for buffoons, and dealing with management’s often relentless push for performance and profitability.

Throughout the book, LeBlanc establishes his credentials through experiences, beginning as a 16-year old dishwasher, becoming a bar owner at age 21, then proceeding through the managerial ranks at various hotel chains and as a multi-unit operator for a national restaurant chain. He is now CEO of Leadagers LLC, a hospitality consulting business providing professional development tailored for hotels and restaurants. He can be contacted at 303-997-9328, —ADS

Moment of Opportunity: Bending Inflexible Policies to Gain the Upper Hand

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

Moment of OpportunityBending inflexible policies to gain the upper hand. By Chase LeBlanc

“I’m a catering manager at a large convention hotel. I recently lost a huge piece of business—a corporate group that was planning to hold a week of meetings here—because they wanted us to drop all service charges associated with coffee and tea for breaks and meals. My property charges more than $100 a gallon for coffee and tea, and my manager says both the price and service charges are non-negotiable. He says, “We have to make our money back in this economy.”

As a result of this inflexible policy, we lost the business to a nearby competitor, who, I’ve been told by a friend who works there, relaxed their coffee pricing and service fees to secure the booking. In addition to my hotel losing several thousand dollars in revenue, the lost business has hurt my personal bottom line as far as bonuses go. We also may have developed a reputation as a price gouger and damaged future group booking opportunities. What can I tell my manager that would convince him it’s bad business in 2011 to ignore client demands on pricing?”

Sounds like your SOP (standard operating procedure) ran into re-al-i-ty. Forces within an organization often favor promoting “the way we do things around here,” and market forces from the outside constantly demand fluidity and flexibility.

The cultural advent of auction-based web sites, high-profile outfits with their lowest-price-point positioning, and the economy being in the doldrums have produced an almost inescapable “über shopping” mentality for better deals.

The U.S. military uses a rather nifty device called an “After Action Review,” where the participants compare “the plan” of strategy/tactics to what actually happened and the consequences of decisions made under fire. This knowledge is then reviewed by those who may face the same type of scenarios as a methodology to produce continuous, real-time improvements within the “thinking and action” systems.

There may be a value for you to implement something like this after each event at your property, but more to the point, you might want to cull the best ideas after each event bid or RFP for future use. You need a little groupthink on this one. Poll industry peers or jump into a like-minded chat string and discover for yourself the new realities. How have properties similar to yours addressed the changes in the marketplace? What enticements draw in new business and keep the old?

The art of negotiation is found in your ability to evaluate the priorities of the folks on the other side of the table. They will want many things, but rarely does one side get all it’s after. Your objective is to give up the least painful parts in order to gain the most positive parts from your point of view. To do that, you must decipher what your counterpart’s weighted values are on those same items. In your case, for all you know, the folks on the other side may have been given the mandate, “Whatever you do, don’t come back here with any service charges associated with coffee or tea,” and were released from any other constraints.

Perhaps they had movement available elsewhere in the contract. Maybe you could have secured the event if you gave in on the service charges in exchange for a signed agreement (with a favorable deposit) for their next meeting. Their boss and your boss might have deemed that a workable deal.

There is also one crazy-like-a-fox-idea: Compete with yourself. Concede the coffee/tea service charges in exchange for “full boat” (you charge them back) on all sales at, for example, your “NRG Recharge Station,” where you offer fresh fruit smoothies, top-of-the-line energy bars, drinks, etc. If you match your “better choice” offerings with the interests of the attendees, you might have a win-win on your hands. The other party gets to proclaim what hardnosed bargainers they were, while you imprint a memorable experience on future guests and come out with more money in your pocket.

Chase LeBlanc is the founder and CEO of Leadagers, LLC, and is a hospitality management performance coach with more than 25 years of experience in the industry. He is also the author of High Impact Hospitality: Upgrade Your Purpose, Performance and Profits!