What do you get when you take pinch of chaos caused by opening a restaurant in two weeks, a dash of employee mayhem when your entire crew are ex-cons and a splash of tv reality entertainment? The Green Channel’s “Conviction Kitchen” series! The show, in its second season, has a unique concept and is surprisingly entertaining and educational for business owners who have many employees to manage.
Hopefully you are not finding your staff to be 100% ex-cons, but some of the problems that every episode bring do start to look familiar, and owners Chef Marc Thuet’s and spouse and House Manager Biana Zorich’s approach to handling tough issues is often unique, and effective. One of the strongest appeals to the show for me is watching them in a delicate dance between hard-a$$ manager and comforting mother, in order to get to the greater good for the business.
The following is just a short list of some of the business observations that I found interesting watching this show.
Prepare for emergencies – One of the first things to note is the sheer number of staffing issues that occur. There is not a day that goes by that someone does not come in as much as two hours late, not show up, overdose the night before, mouth off with a blazing attitude or implode in some other way. To fight this and hope everything “settles down” would be useless since it is the nature of the beast. Instead they overstaff, roll with punches and don’t take any guff.
Mentor is better than dictator – Another thing to note is how they do spend quite a bit of time listening, mentoring and helping their staff out of the deep quick sand of life crisis that many of them find themselves in. There is a limit to this generosity, but the management duo’s first approach is to coach their staff to success before the cleaver is the only weapon left. Being that Biana and Chef Marc own many other successful businesses, I suspect they have developed this skill through years of practice. If for no other reason, watch this show just to see this management craftsmanship in action.
People rise to the occasion – If you watch enough episodes with an open mind you may start to realize that one of the best tools that the owners are giving to their staff is self-confidence. In one episode there is an employee named Atar who is struggling with remembering procedures, taking initiative and following through. Then in a short-staffed crunch she asked to train a new person, and really rises to the occasion to become a 100% better employee than she had ever been before. In my cleaning business I often used this practice of taking the under confident capable employee (who may be posing as a screw up) and promoting them to a training position, and really watch them blossom.
Keep the work steady, or be prepared to start over – Keeping staff is a touchy balance, and often any glitches in the plans can cause you to lose staff because they can’t financially survive the hiccups. In one of the episodes the restaurant has a ceiling leak, and much like the cleaning businesses in a blizzard, they had to close for a short time. In fact they only closed down for one day and 3 of their 12 person crew quit because of lack of hours. You may not be in control of these circumstances, but be prepared for staff changes after outages of work.
Not Perfect – I have to say that at times Chef Marc’s style is too rough for my taste. My opinion is that if you have to raise your voice at a staff member you have lost the battle…however I recognize the fact that busy restaurant culture is different.
Check out this interesting show and watch a little employee management theater and you decide what’s for you and not. Check your local listings for the Green Channel and tv times.