Managing Millennials in the kitchen

4 Jan, 2016

Gordon Ramsey has become very well known, not only for his successful businesses and culinary skills, but also for his hot and volatile temper (aka Hell’s Kitchen). While this old-school style of managing a kitchen may seem entertaining and undoubtedly keeps the viewers on the edge of their seats, in reality chef’s who run kitchens and behave in this manner spend a lot of their time trying to recruit new staff to fill vacant positions due to employees leaving.

With the Millennial Generation (MGs) now in the workforce there is no escaping the fact that this group of workers place much more emphasis on achieving a good work life balance than current kitchen leaders would ever of imagined possible when they started out!

However,  chefs and leaders need to learn how to cultivate the best potential from these learning minds – structuring discipline and focus into their culinary foundation in away that may seem unusual to them, but is essential in recruiting and retaining talent in order for kitchens to thrive (not just survive). MGs are confident, ambitious and achievement-oriented. They have high expectations of their employers, seek out new challenges and are not afraid to question authority – they also (and always) want meaningful work and a solid learning curve.

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So, with this in mind, how do you achieve the right balance? Here’s our top three must do’s:

1) Create a learning environment

A successful leader creates and fosters an ideal learning environment. In establishing such an atmosphere and generating excitement, motivation and new skill sets, your staff will learn more than if you’re constantly screaming at them. Learning from a dedicated teacher and having the opportunity to utilise what’s been learnt instills loyalty and longevity within your team.

2) Communication

Creating an atmosphere that provides positive feedback and opportunity to voice opinions (respectfully) reinforces a behaviour that will strengthen every kitchen. Keeping open lines of communication within your team is important; making yourself approachable is also key. If your staff are too afraid to ask questions in fear of yelling, ridicule or scolding, it will only limit their growth and the success of your business.

3) Empowerment

Remember that MGs are goal-oriented, so empowering your team to make responsible decisions on their own creates a respectful cooperative working environment. Everyone wants to be a vital part of the ‘big picture’. Be a mentor and coach to your staff, giving them the skills so you can trust the decisions being made. Micromanaging is never empowering; learning and discovering each of your staff’s individual talents and creating an opportunity to let them shine, is. No one enjoys being ‘just a number’. Knowing that every person, regardless of experience, will have something amazing to bring to the table will encourage everyone to show up and put their best efforts into each service.

Anyone who is currently running a kitchen would have experienced some hard knocks and had their fair share of yelling and ridicule on their way up the kitchen brigade. Did these experiences make them a better chef? Perhaps. But times have changed and with them the way we learn and achieve both business and personal goals. Leaders in the kitchen need to be flexible to an ever changing, generational way of thinking and working, not only in order to build a successful business but to effectively attract, recruit and retain staff in an industry that already struggles on all three of these fronts.

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