Celebrate… like there is a tomorrow!

Posted on July 9th, 2018

Celebration is an inherent part of the American culture. We celebrate everything! From national holidays to personal events and from religious festivities to other key milestones. We are a nation of celebrations! We enjoy the great feeling, the fun and the joy it brings to us! We feel excited, rejuvenated and re-charged! Celebrations bring us even closer to our family and friends. We almost always celebrate like there is, no tomorrow and we love it!

But then ‘tomorrow’ comes. The excitement, the fun and the joy from the celebration subsides and now we must go back to work! Back to the daily routine and for most of us it takes a bit more effort to get going!

But wait! Imagine if the workplace had its own culture of celebrations!  What if the company and the leader you work for understood the value of celebrations! The excitement, the energy and the great feeling it brings to you and the entire team. What if they knew how it motivates and re-charges you to perform at a much higher level and how it helps build great team spirit.

Successful leaders seize on every opportunity to celebrate their teams. They show their gratitude and acknowledge their team’s successes through celebrations. They also understand the positive impact celebrations have on their employees’ performance and their attitude. In the hospitality industry where people serve other people, positive mindset and great attitude of a well celebrated employees is always noticed, respected and appreciated by the customers. These employees always look forward to ‘tomorrow’ at work and they love it!


Come back in a few weeks to see our top nine ideas for celebrations with your team!

Part II – Teamwork – It’s What’s for Lunch – 9 Teamwork Principals

Posted on June 4th, 2018

Great teams follow some basic Teamwork principles. They have developed the ability and mindset to work together and are committed to serving and supporting each other. They want to provide the best possible meal service experience to each patient they serve. Listed below are the nine Teamwork principles they practice for achieving their goals and attaining high personal job satisfaction.

  1. Know your Team’s goals, objectives and plans

It is imperative that each team member understands clearly what the team’s specific goals, objectives and plans are. The detailed the plans the better it is for perfect execution. They should also believe in the mission, the strategies and the Leadership’s ability to successfully lead and support the Team.

  1. Understand and clarify your role

Every Team member should clearly know and understand exactly what their individual role is and how their work contributes to the Team success. If a member is not certain about their exact responsibilities, they should seek clarification for everyone’s benefit. Team leader should verify that each member understands their role thoroughly.

  1. Respect and honor others’ role

Every Team member has an important role to play and make positive contributions towards achieving Team goals. Everyone on the Team must respect, honor, support and acknowledge other members’ roles, successes and contributions. Honoring each other’s contributions enhances Team spirit and builds greater mutual respect.

  1. Support and help others

Supporting and helping each other builds great trust and respect for each other. There are times when a fellow Team member falls behind or has too much on their plate, a helping hand from fellow members is an admirable and worthy gesture. Not to mention it ultimately helps the Team reach their desired outcomes for the patients and guests.

  1. Communicate clearly

It starts with the Leader. Everyone on the Team should be appropriately kept informed. A variety of communication mediums should be utilized to inform, promote and share progress and results. Team members should also communicate among themselves in a clear and precise manner. Verifying what someone said and what you understood is very important.

  1. Resolve differences fairly and promptly

When people work together, there is always a possibility of disagreements. At times such incidents can be potentially detrimental to Team chemistry and may hamper achieving desired outcomes.  Such situations must be resolved fairly and promptly. This is important to not let this cause lack of mutual respect.

  1. Follow up and follow through

Following up and following through on your commitments is an essential piece of the bigger picture of Teamwork. Promising less and delivering more is also a good habit. If a Team member is counting on you, you cannot let them down. If a patient related issue has been handed off to you, resolve it to the patient’s full satisfaction.

  1. Cultivate desire for success

Every great Team has some natural leaders. They show their passion, commitment, enthusiasm and desire for success through their words and actions every day. They encourage, motivate, support, compliment and talk up others. They are eager to show genuine and sincere gratefulness to their Team. This is how they cultivate desire for success.

  1. Acknowledge and celebrate accomplishments

The grateful leaders celebrate Team successes and accomplishments routinely. They never fail an opportunity to thank their Team in a meaningful way. They also promote their Team within the organization. Acknowledging each other’s successes in a formal and authentic manner shows sincerity and gratitude and it strengthens Team chemistry.


Wrap Up

Great Teams accomplish great deeds. It takes superb Teamwork among all employees of the food and nutrition services department to create an Excellent dining experience for the patients and guests. Working together, supporting each other, giving due recognition, cultivating desire for success and being grateful to each other is what makes a Team Great! The greater the Teamwork the tastier the Lunch for the patient!


Khalid Shiekh

Consultant – Food and Nutrition Services

Teamwork – Its what’s for Lunch! Part 1

Posted on May 25th, 2018

Imagine a scenario. Its mid-morning and the lunch time is approaching. A patient in a hospital bed is feeling hungry. He reaches over to the bedside table and grabs his copy of the Patient’s Room Service menu. On the cover there are some very appetizing and colorful food pictures. Just by looking at these pictures he is anticipating a nice lunch tray with delicious food items prepared just for him. He is imagining what hot and cold food choices he would like to have. After all he was not allowed to eat or drink any food or beverage by mouth all morning.


Then there is a gentle knock on the door and his nurse enters the room smilingly and tells him that the doctor has cleared him for lunch meal. He is elated to hear that and thanks her for the great news. Of course, his next question is “How is the food here?”  She replies with pleasant voice and full assurance that “Our food service department is the best and the food here is great!” She asks if he had any questions about the menu or needed help in placing his order. He is pleased with the nurse’s kind gesture of help! He tells her that he will call for his meal order a bit later, when he is ready.

A few minutes later the patient calls the Room Service order line and a very friendly, pleasant and courteous representative answers the phone. The interaction between the two about his food choices is very detailed and in line with patient’s diet guidelines. The representative helps him design a great meal tray to his liking. The patient is very satisfied with the courtesy and help he received from the Room Service representative. He is anticipating a great meal to arrive at the time that he wanted for the tray to be delivered.

There is a gentle knock on the door at about the time he is expecting his meal tray to arrive. A very pleasant and courteous Room Service hostess enters the room and introduces herself. She has his meal tray. She verifies his name and date of birth and places his meal tray in front of him on the over bed table. She requests that he verifies if the meal tray is accurate and appealing to him. He verifies that the tray is accurate and says that the food presentation looks very appetizing. She offers to come back in five minutes to see if he needed anything else.  He is very impressed with the courtesy and politeness of the hostess who just served him his meal tray. A few minutes later when the hostess comes back to check on him, he tells her that the food is great and he is really enjoying it! He thanks her for checking back on him!

In the scenario described above, the patient experiences very professional, helpful, polite and courteous service throughout. He also enjoys a great, freshly prepared and delicious meal of his choice. This excellent experience is made possible by the Teamwork of many talented and dedicated people in the food and nutrition services department. His experience is further enhanced by the support and kindness of his nurse. I call this whole patient experience – Teamwork and Its what’s for Lunch!


The following Team of people strive to provide excellent dining experience to every patient at every meal period, every day:



These people work together towards a common goal. They are extremely talented in their profession and highly skilled in their duties. They are very well trained and perform their tasks with pride and humility. They have an inherent talent to do their job well and with compassion.


Come back to the RSA Website to see Part II in this series …..

Khalid Shiekh

Consultant – Food and Nutrition Services

Workplace Excellence – If you Build it they will Excel, Part 2

Posted on April 30th, 2018


6. Resolve issues promptly and consistently


Employees want issues resolved! Practical and active Leaders know how important it is to employees that all work related issues are addressed fairly and promptly. Even if the Leader considers the matter to be minor it should receive appropriate and timely attention. At times, disagreement between two team members can occur. It is Leader’s responsibility to immediately handle the situation and seek Human Resources assistance if needed. Issues if not addressed in a timely manner, will get escalated and may require more time and resources to resolve.


Leaders should work directly with the employees to find resolutions and common ground. Once a matter has been resolved, Leaders must follow up and follow through with the employees to verify that the resolution outcome was to their satisfaction. This Leadership practice builds employees’ faith and trust in their Leader and further improves their working relationship.


7. Have integrity in your words and actions


Employees will be the first to trust you! Leaders with integrity know that they provide moral Leadership with their words and actions every day. When a Leader fails to deliver on their promises or commitments it will let employees down. It can also damage the trust and working relationship. Here are some basic and simple rules to follow to avoid such failures:



At times a Leader will make an honest mistake or a human error that impacts employees adversely in some fashion. When this happens, a genuine Leader must be forthright, take responsibility, apologize and correct the situation. This Leadership practice will not only teach them a lesson but also build even stronger trust and bond with the employees.


8. Hold self and team accountable


Employees expect team and Leadership accountability! Accomplished and thoughtful Leaders practice self-accountability before they hold their team accountable. In a culture of workplace excellence, employees put forth full effort every day. They are focused and committed to serving their patients above and beyond expectations. Nothing will slow them down until they sense a lack of consistent accountability of every team member.



All employees and Leaders must follow the same set of rules and standards. When one team member fails to comply, standard counseling process needs to be followed. Most employees will respond to a fair and constructive approach. A written and formal developmental plan may also be needed. When Leaders hold themselves accountable in a meaningful manner, it creates a powerful and inspirational environment for the employees.  This habit of self-accountability can motivate employees to feel great about their Leader and be genuinely inspired.



9. Celebrate successes


Employees love to celebrate successes! Fun loving and grateful Leaders cease on every opportunity to thank their teams, show their gratitude and celebrate their successes! They know the positive impact of formally recognizing their team’s achievements. Celebrations should be both in forms of pre-planned activities and some spontaneous fun events. Here are a few suggestions:




Wrap Up


Workplace excellence culture is possible in any organization where a Leader is committed, compassionate, respectful and grateful to employees for their contributions. The Leader must be visionary, an effective communicator and one who values employees’ dedication and ongoing support! Ideas listed above can help Leaders in creating a great workplace culture.

A culture where the employees Excel at what they do and will deliver EXCEPTIONAL service, achieve the HIGHEST patient satisfaction scores and even greater personal job satisfaction!


Khalid Shiekh

Consultant – Food and Nutrition Services

April 18, 2018


Workplace Excellence – If you Build it they will Excel, Part 1

Posted on April 23rd, 2018

In service industry people serve other people. In healthcare support services, people not only serve other people they also provide comfort, care, a helping hand and a safe environment! Whether they are serving patients with their meal, cleaning their room, transporting them from their hospital room to the lab and back, they are serving people! These people are also their patients! These patients in a hospital are likely under the best possible medical care of the hospital’s very caring medical staff. They are also in the hands of the most compassionate and comforting support services employees. These employees are carefully recruited because of their service attitude, pleasant manners and inherent people skills. They are also very well trained. And when they Excel at what they do, their patients will see it, feel it and share their experience with everyone they know!


To Excel at providing exceptional service to their patients the employees must first experience respect, compassion, sincerity, appreciation and feel valued by their department Leader. They expect their Leader to provide a clear vision, clarify expectations, listen to the employees and engage with them regularly. They want all work-related issues resolved promptly and fairly. They also expect their Leader to follow up and follow through on their words in a timely manner! These are the behaviors they love to experience from their Leader at their workplace. This is what makes the employees Excel at what they do!


It takes a visionary, dedicated, committed, engaged and supportive Leader to build a great workplace culture.  This Leader puts employees first in almost all situations and is always available to serve them. They know and practice servant Leadership behaviors and always show their gratitude to the employees. Next are the first five of nine Leadership skills and behaviors when practiced diligently, sincerely and consistently can help tremendously towards building a great Workplace Excellence culture!


  1. Share your vision


Employees look up to their Leaders! Successful Leaders understand it very well! They share their personal vision, objectives, plans and specific department goals with their teams in both formal and informal manner. Most effective way to communicate this is in the department’s monthly employee meetings and then continuously promoting in their daily interactions.


These Leaders ask for employees’ commitment and support towards achieving their goals and objectives. The employees will eagerly and diligently get involved and put forth full effort in supporting and achieving the desired outcomes! A Leader must also provide regular updates on the progress being made and any challenges that come up. This Leadership practice is essential for continuous employees’ focus, drive, support and enthusiasm!


  1. Paint a clear picture and clarify expectations


Employees want to know what is expected of them! Organized and disciplined Leaders know that ambiguity kills employees’ drive and enthusiasm. The clearer the direction, the better the results. Most employees will go to tremendous lengths to reach the pinnacle if they know, that is what the Leader needs. They may even design their own path to achieve results if a clear picture has been painted towards the end in mind. They want to be fully on board with the ‘plan’ and get to work.


To accomplish any great task or achieve highly desired results from any project large or small a Leader’s effective communication skills play a major and crucial role. They keep directions simple, organized and in an easy to follow manner. They verify that employees understand their expectations and if needed clarify any confusions. This Leadership skill is essential for achieving high employee output and their personal job satisfaction!


  1. Make employees feel welcomed and appreciated


Employees should look forward to their day at work! Compassionate and engaged Leaders know that employees enjoy being welcomed to their workplace. It takes a sincere greeting, with pleasant smile and polite eye contact to welcome each employee at the beginning of their day. Newly hired employees should be introduced to the entire team by the department Leader personally. This one simple Leadership behavior shows enormous respect and a great welcoming gesture to the new team member.


While employees appreciate an instant and sincere ‘Thank you’ gesture by the Leader, they also like and enjoy a formal reward and recognition program. Such program must be simple, fun, ongoing and easy to follow. Employees’ individual and team’s collective accomplishments should be highlighted in department meetings and on the hospital’s website. An occasional hand-written note also provides a great emotional bank account deposit for the employee. Monthly giveaways in prizes and some other redeemable cash value awards are always appreciated. These Leadership behaviors re-charge employees’ energy and enthusiasm!


  1. Treat employees fairly and with respect


Employees can sense micro-inequities! Fair-minded and sincere Leaders are aware of their everyday behavioral style when interacting with employees. They also know that each employee is unique and have certain special talent as well as what each employees’ strengths and opportunities for growth are. They sense that employees are not necessarily looking for ‘equal’ treatment but an equitable, just and fair treatment.


With such awareness these Leaders purposefully and inherently show respect and kindness to each employee. They also encourage employees to speak with them if any one feels that they have somehow been ignored or slighted in any fashion. Such open-door communication is very effective towards building mutual trust between the two. This Leadership practice builds a long-standing mutual respect and an ongoing employees’ commitment and dedication!


  1. Listen with empathy and compassion


Employees want you to talk less and listen more! Leaders with effective and empathetic communication skills practice ‘seek to understand first before being understood’ habit when interacting with employees. They know how important it is for the employees to have the freedom to share their ideas and concerns with their Leader. They also let the employees vent their frustrations and speak candidly about anything on their mind. Employees know that the Leader will listen with empathy and respond with compassion.


Whether the conversation is work related or of a confidential and personal nature, the Leader will listen patiently to gather all the details and take notes if necessary. They verify what the employee said and what they understood. When appropriate they will sympathize and offer to help. If needed, the Leader will commit to a follow up action or conversation. This active and compassionate listening skill is admired by all employees and strengthens their commitment and loyalty to the Leader and the department.


Khalid Shiekh

Consultant – Food and Nutrition Services

April 18, 2018

The Luckiest Rebuke

Posted on April 17th, 2018

In every leader’s journey there come moments which are transformative.  Seldom are these moments planned or part of an official educational process, they tend to come when least expected and most often from sources not anticipated.  Frequently this moment comes as a true surprise and if not recognized may go past, unnoticed and lost forever.

Six years, or so ago, I was engaged in a process for a very large corporate entity with a focus on a renovation, retail food offering and general facelift of the retail area of a mid-sized community hospital.  As part of the process, I had scheduled a meeting with the CEO as he was very engaged in all things that represented the face of his organization and had an affect on the associate experience.

I had been through the process with nearly two dozen facilities and felt like I had the presentation dialed.  I was grooving, on cruise control, making my pitch for why it was so important to make the suggested changes, on our dime, mind you.  Having progressed beyond the what and the why, I rolled smoothly, so I felt, into the most powerful part of the presentation.  My wheel house, my hook, the point at which I laid out our plan for how we would engage the teams to modify what had been the “way it was” done FOREVER.

“Here is the key to the success of the process.  We will take the opportunity to show our associates, your associates, the key to great food is not exclusive of good nutrition.  When we involve them in the process of menu development, sales evaluation, local food scene implementation and recipe modifications we are given the opportunity to bring them along the path to “BUYING-IN” to…”.

“STOP!  I do not want to hear any more about BUY-IN, enough!” interjected the normally soft-spoken CEO.  The cold chill started at the top of my head and poured through my body, in a flash, leaving me in a flushed and near panicked ball of nerves and sweating palms.   A thousand thoughts, a thousand doubts, a rewind of the last words spoken, and then sweet rescue.

“Let me clarify”.  He said softly, kindly, obviously noting my discomfort.  “I have a serious disdain for the concept of buy-in.  If, in fact, you succeed in getting anyone to buy-in to your process you have convinced them, maybe coerced them, as a salesman might, to your way of thought.  What we want, in our facility, is to BUILD-IN our teams and processes.  When someone assists in building something, a fence, a house or, in this case, a culture they will protect it with a fierce determination.  They will defend and continuously support, making all efforts to insure it does not fail and fall.  THAT will be our method, together”.

I have never forgotten and have, since that day, built processes and teams with build-in as the foundation, and yes, those teams have, to the individual, defended, supported and built success.  This seemingly small, semantical interjection would have been missed, the musing of a slightly overbearing autocrat, this transcendental, seminal moment to develop a quality of LEADERSHIP, real leadership, but I heard it for what it was.  This one significant transcendent moment, which stays with me to this day, and for that moment of cold impactful rebuke I am grateful and earnestly focused to live up to the standard he built-in, me.


James Standridge, Consultant RSA

Employee Satisfaction begins with the Leader: Growth Opportunities

Posted on April 9th, 2018

Employees want to grow! Well most if not all. It is Leader’s responsibility to know and learn who wants to grow and in what fashion. Some would want to learn other duties and other areas in the department. Others may want to stay in their current area but would like to learn more and perhaps go for additional education or certification. Some may want to go for the next position up. Here is how this should work:


  1. Leader should ask the employees in their annual reviews of their vision of growth
  2. Offer candid and sincere advice and/or encouragement
  3. Give their recommendations for next steps
  4. Offer reasonable assistance and mentoring where possible
  5. Seek Human Resources assistance when needed
  6. Document all conversations or related events


Wrap Up

Service Excellence Culture is possible in any organization where the Leader is committed, compassionate and capable of envisioning and delivering on basic and simple strategies outlined above! Putting employees first in hospitality industry is not a new concept. Making it happen takes a lot of effort and dedication by the Leader. Rewards for the organization in return are enormous! The patients or customers who experience EXCEPTIONAL service from your staff will let you and others know, usually in a very big manner! That makes it so worthwhile.


Khalid Shiekh

Consultant – Food and Nutrition Services

February 9, 2018

Employee Satisfaction begins with the Leader: Rewards and Recognition

Posted on March 19th, 2018

Rewards and Recognition

Employees want to be appreciated! While employees appreciate an instant and sincere ‘Thank you’ gesture by the Leader they also like and enjoy a formal reward and recognition program. Even though many organization including most hospitals have organization/companywide programs but employees prefer a department level program as well. Such programs should have characteristics of both material and emotional rewards and recognition. Such program should have following components:


  1. Be simple, fun, ongoing and easy to follow
  2. Should include a handing of a Card or a Star for instant gratification
  3. Cards or Stars should have some redeemable value within the department
  4. The awardees should also be recognized in front of their peers or customers
  5. Program should also include some monthly gifts giveaways – drawings etc.
  6. Be part of a quarterly and an annual celebration in the department
  7. Should include an occasional hand written thank you note in the mail


Khalid Shiekh

Consultant – Food and Nutrition Services

February 28, 2018

Employee Satisfaction begins with the Leader: Employee Involvement

Posted on March 12th, 2018

Employee Involvement

Employees have ideas! They want to make a positive difference and further improve the way they work. They want to accomplish more, be more efficient and productive.  Leader must listen and get employees involved in both formal and informal fashions. They know their customers, their product and their commitment to excellence so the Leader must pay attention and respect employees’ input. The most effective ways to get employees involved are:


  1. By monthly rounding with a few employees in a formal manner
  2. Responding to their ideas in a formal manner within a reasonable time
  3. When planning a major change or introducing a new concept
  4. Before making any changes to an existing process or product
  5. Invite some employees in brainstorming on problem resolutions
  6. By challenging them for further creativity and innovation in the department
  7. Keeping the door open for one on one meetings to listen to their thoughts


Khalid Shiekh

Consultant – Food and Nutrition Services

February 28, 2018

Employee Satisfaction begins with the Leader: Tools and Training

Posted on March 5th, 2018

Tools and Training

Employees want to do a great job! A Leader must begin with this premise. They cannot perform at their best if they do not have the tools they need or the tools they work with do not cooperate. The department must also have a clearly defined training program. An initial formal training period of three to five days, for their position is essential. Ongoing monthly training and refresher sessions for each position must also be conducted. Leader should conduct monthly rounding with the employees to make sure that they are satisfied with their tools, training and the environment. Leader should take actions when the employees’ needs have changed. A Leader cannot lose an employee’s dedication, energy, positive mindset and vigor by not providing them what they need to perform at their best!

Khalid Shiekh

Consultant – Food and Nutrition Services

February 28, 2018