I know, I know! Chefs hate it when their staff is on the line with their phones. “If only we could get them to pay as much attention to the food as the phone.” Today we are going to look at some reasons why it’s a good idea to let your staff use their phones.
“They Use Their Phones So Much!”
I completely get the frustration the older guard have with the cooks today. I grew up without the constant barrage of social media and texting, but I was there for the dawn of that age.
It wasn’t until I found myself in my office giving a corrective action form to a younger employee that I realized that the old system of motivation did not work. The kid could not peel his eyes off of his iPhone for the entire time I was writing him up.
I did what any chef would do. I asked him if he actually had any respect. He rolled his eyes, and sighed. He didn’t get it.
Or was I missing out on something?
I had a problem getting through to the new generation because I tried to fit them into the same mold that I was taught in. The fear that the chef might be angry, or that he wouldn’t teach me. The fear that I would lose my job.
What if we tried to use those phones constructively in the kitchen and engage our staff in the chef’s vision? Isn’t that what the chef is responsible for?
Ways to Encourage Your Staff to Use Their Cell phones to Further Your Vision:
Calling – This one is so basic, but in larger operations a total necessity. For example, I once had a live barbecue station set up on a deck where the guests could order specialty items off of a special menu while the rest of the table could order off the regular menu on the outside. Instead of setting up a temporary MICROS machine just for a pickup item, the cook at the barbecue could call to the chef de partie at the main kitchen to say their item was on pickup and to start the other, faster plating.
Cameras – So many applications for this. Have a problem with the close a cook did the night before? Snap a picture before it is fixed. How about a new plating for a dish? Snap. How about a quick problem to relate to maintenance about the freezer banding? All taken care of by a quick snap. Pictures are worth a thousand words.
Facebook – Businesses just don’t know where to go with Facebook. They are scared that any post will impact their business in a bad light. In most cases, their cautiousness really hurts their kitchen. The problem really is that without engaging in the game, how will you know how to fix the damage? In any case, if your cooks are snapping pictures and sharing them with their friends on Facebook, that’s free advertising for you. Plus, it let’s the cooks feel like they are contributing to the energy of the restaurant they are working in.
Twitter – A cook can ask a question on twitter and get feedback in real time. They can also post pictures of the daily specials, or of items on the regular menu. All of this comes at no cost to you. Make sure you are inspiring these up and coming chefs, and the social media will take care of the rest.
Instagram – Chefs, take heed! Your good cooks are already on Instagram, and they are proudly posting their plates. Why? It’s all about being proud of what you are doing. The feedback they get is live, and it’s an ego boost. You will get instant feedback from their followers on how well things are doing, and create a culture where your cooks are proud to be working where they are.
Texting – This is basic. Need something checked? How about a list of prep? How about directing someone how to do something when you are in a situation away from them? Most people are heads down on their phones, so this is one of the best ways to get their attention.
Dropbox and Evernote – These two are my favorite. Need to share the schedule? Invite your staff to a Dropbox folder where they have access to the current schedule. Share recipes from Evernote folders, and they can be search-able through keywords. Plating pictures can be there, everything a cook would need to execute your vision.
Alarms – This last one is my favorite. The ability to set multiple alarms is awesome. Need the stock to come off at a certain time? How about the cookies in the oven, or the sponge cake? Does the pork belly have multiple, time-sensitive steps? Alarms to the rescue.
90% of your kitchen staff use smart phones that are capable of delivering your information to them.
A chef’s job is to clearly indicate their vision and guide the staff to executing that vision. With all the tools at your cooks disposal with their smart phones, why not let them use them to your advantage?
Now It’s Your Turn
So, what do you think of letting your staff use their cell phones in the kitchen? Let me know in the comments!