How Do You Keep Your Culinary Team Motivated During Long Shifts?

How Do You Keep Your Culinary Team Motivated During Long Shifts?

In the high-pressure kitchens of culinary maestros, keeping a team motivated through the grueling hours is both an art and a science. An Executive Chef starts us off with the fundamental strategy of creating a positive work environment, while we also gather additional tactics from industry insiders and beyond. From the energizing beats of a well-curated playlist to the career-boosting allure of professional development opportunities, discover a full menu of methods to maintain high spirits during long shifts.

  • Create a Positive Work Environment
  • Check In and Listen
  • Set Performance-Based Incentives
  • Provide Quality Breaks and Meals
  • Rotate Stations to Engage Staff
  • Energize with Music
  • Invest in Professional Development

Create a Positive Work Environment

The best way to keep staff motivated is to maintain a healthy, positive work atmosphere. That is, to create an environment where staff enjoy working, keep it professional, and focus on high-quality output. Recognize and reward the hard work the team is putting in; it doesn't need to be anything fancy—it can be simple things like getting everyone chilled drinks after the end of a shift or cooking dinner. Most importantly, you, as the leader, need to be on the floor with them and putting in the hours.

Hushmoin PatellExecutive Chef

Check In and Listen

The best way to keep my team motivated during long shifts is to constantly check in with them to ensure they are at their best, mentally and physically. A great leader knows the pulse of his or her team and knows when to give more assistance at times and when to apply more pressure to get the job done.

In my 25 years in the hospitality industry, I have learned to adapt to each situation differently and become a better listener to enable my team to be the best cooks/chefs that they can be.

Charles Voudouris
Charles VoudourisExecutive Chef, Neiman Marcus Beverly Hills

Set Performance-Based Incentives

Instituting performance-based incentives and rewards creates a positive and competitive atmosphere within the kitchen. By setting achievable goals and recognizing individuals or the team that meet or exceed these standards, a culture of excellence and recognition is promoted. Rewards don't always have to be monetary – they could be a coveted parking space, a trophy, or an extra day off.

This strategy helps keep morale high and encourages staff to consistently put their best foot forward. Ensuring each staff member knows their hard work doesn't go unnoticed can drive them to maintain their energy levels throughout their shift. Consider setting up an employee of the month program to begin this motivational journey.

Provide Quality Breaks and Meals

Providing adequate breaks during long shifts can make a significant difference in how culinary teams perform. Allowing the team to recharge with quality staff meals not only sustains their energy but also shows appreciation for their hard work. A nourishing meal can boost morale and demonstrate that the establishment values their well-being.

Equally, it's a moment for staff to bond and unite, which is critical for a collaborative work environment. Witnessing the management's investment in their comfort can inspire the team to reciprocate with dedication and focus during working hours. Find time today to review and possibly enhance your current break and meal policies for your team.

Rotate Stations to Engage Staff

Rotating stations allows team members to learn different aspects of the kitchen, keeping their daily duties diverse and educational. This practice can prevent job monotony and burnout, as employees feel challenged and engaged in their work. Besides, mastering various skills can elevate the overall versatility and value of your culinary team.

This approach not only maintains motivation but also supports succession planning within the kitchen hierarchy. Giving your team the chance to grow by learning new tasks can be a great motivational tool. Start considering how job rotation could be incorporated into your kitchen this week.

Energize with Music

Playing energizing music in the kitchen can be a simple yet impactful way to enliven the atmosphere and inject a steady stream of energy during long shifts. Music can set the tone for a shift, facilitate teamwork, and make the passing hours more enjoyable. It's a universal language that transcends different backgrounds and connects people.

The key is to choose the right kind of music that uplifts without being a distraction. Creating a collaborative playlist that the team contributes to can also be a bonding activity. So, why not introduce a sound system into your kitchen and let the music play?

Invest in Professional Development

Offering opportunities for ongoing professional development can do wonders for a culinary team's motivation. Knowing that their employer invests in their skills and career growth provides a sense of purpose and a future to strive for. From workshops to culinary courses, these opportunities foster an environment of continuous improvement and ambition.

This focus on development can lead to better job satisfaction and a more loyal and skilled workforce. Encouraging your team to participate in the next available professional development opportunity could greatly impact their long-term enthusiasm and commitment.

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