Have you been watching The Bear? I highly recommend giving it a shot. It’s a viscerally accurate portrayal of kitchen life. I’m hooked but I almost find it hard to watch. The main character, Carmy, is a world class chef who has returned to his hometown of Chicago after his brother Michael dies to take over the family restaurant. He’s faced with a myriad of challenges, but mostly he’s trying to sort out the “sh*tshow” of a kitchen team and work through the mess of paperwork and bills left by Michael. In this case, change management is messy and involves a lot of yelling! Woops, maybe you should cool off in the walk-in.
After spending almost eight years in the same kitchen at Terrain, I’ve seen a significant amount of turnover in the management staff, and subsequently a lot of “change management.” Our event business has expanded almost exponentially since I started in 2014, and the way chefs have approached weekly production has evolved on a continuous basis.
4 years ago, we were operating with a ‘skeleton crew’ so managing staff mood, concerns, communication, and constant retraining of new hires were integral parts of the chef’s job. If I had understood the bigger picture (transparency!), I would have felt less resistant about the fast changes – or at least better informed. I was resistant because the workload was brutal! But it would have been nice to know why certain processes were falling apart and how I should have adjusted my production timeline. Menus, recipes, and processes needed to be streamlined. We also needed better resources (equipment) and weekly team meetings to promote communication and shared understanding!
In the article we read from RICOH, I tried to apply the “3 Most Common Problems in Change Management” to my own work experience at Terrain.
- Employee Resistance: Change is really hard. Especially when the increase in production means new workflows, longer hours, and a physical toll on your body. Employees have to buy-in to the changes or the entire process becomes painful and tense.
- Communication Issues: Like the article mentioned, businesses place value on communicating with their customers but don’t always emphasize internal communication. Tell your employees when change will happen and what to expect! And don’t forget to give them a way to voice their concerns. Communication should go both ways.
- Implementing New Technologies: Terrain started using “Parsley,” a recipe costing software application that allows chefs to integrate recipe consolidation with ingredient costing and gives access to many users for multi-site production continuity. No more scribbling in a notebook! They also recently changed kitchen scheduling from “schedulefly” to “7shifts” and the user experience is much better.
By working through these challenges, management can move the team forward successfully.
“3 Most Common Change Management Problems.” 3 Most Common Change Management Problems | Ricoh USA, https://www.ricoh-usa.com/en/insights/articles/the-3-most-common-change-management-problems.
Rosner, Helen. “‘The Bear’ Is a Gritty Fairy Tale of Cooking and Grief.” The New Yorker, 22 July 2022, https://www.newyorker.com/culture/annals-of-gastronomy/the-bear-is-a-gritty-fairy-tale-of-cooking-and-grief.
Yam, Genevieve. “I Worked in Michelin-Starred Kitchens. the Depiction of Trauma in ‘The Bear’ Is so Real It’s Painful.” Bon Appétit, Bon Appétit, 12 July 2022, https://www.bonappetit.com/story/the-bear-hulu-toxic-restaurant-culture.