What makes a good leader and what is the best way to manage your staff?
Is it a case of tough love and a firm hand in charge? The head chef you were terrified of and yet respected at the same time. Or should you lead by example; don’t ask any of your team to do a job you would not be willing to do yourself if necessary, surely every one of us has done a stint in the wash-up when needed? In my opinion, there doesn’t seem to be a definitive right or wrong answer to this question and the requirements seem to change on a regular basis, all depending on the kitchen and the team within it.
Every kitchen has its own dynamics and surely it is up to us, as leaders, to adjust and adapt our management style to suit the team within the kitchen. The days of simply saying, “if you don’t like it, you know where the door is!!” should be well behind us.
So many different factors will determine the dynamics within the kitchen
Rural Vs Urban; is life inside the kitchen of a premises in a remote location different from the bustle of city life?
From hotels serving food 24hours a day to restaurants with quiet and busy days to workplace canteens with a definitive structure to your daily and weekly service, each kitchen team will work differently to ensure the food offer required is provided.
Are kitchens serving fine dining, high-end food more intensive than a relaxed family-style bistro?
Large brigades with a definitive kitchen hierarchy in place are certainly going to be very different to smaller teams where positions cover a multitude of job roles.
How does an increase in oestrogen affect a testosterone-fuelled workplace? Or does it make any difference at all?
Regardless of where the kitchen is in the world, the dynamics will be determined by the majority of any particular nationality in the kitchen and can change drastically if this changes. I’ve worked with an Italian brigade in Australia, a German team in New Zealand and a French crew in Ireland. Each time the dynamics were certainly determined by the majority nationality, I worked in Switzerland where the kitchen switched from using English as a language to using German mid-season as the crew changed slightly.
Kitchens that have more space than staff, and you get an entire bench to yourself is going to have a very different dynamic to the kitchen where your chopping board is touching the chef beside you.
With all of these factors in play, and taken into consideration, there is a great need to understand what works in each individual kitchen, and to recognise that what works well with one team in one kitchen may not necessarily work in another kitchen.
Have you had to change the way you lead or manage your team as a direct result of the dynamics within the kitchen? Or do you still stand by, “It’s my way or the highway!”?
Sinead and her Team