“After The First”
Posted on November 11th, 2022
Around mid-November, a phrase creeps into our daily dialogue on decision making: “Get back to me after the first of the year”. It seems as if there is an imaginary line where no new business will take place until mid-January after the holiday fog has lifted.
What is the driver of this impenetrable conference-speak barrier? Aversion to change. Hiring slows down, purchase orders are held, capital expenses are not discussed. But why?
It is far easier to move a decision to the future than to embrace positive change as it presents itself. Because all change is “messy” having a ready-made reason to remain idle for 60 days is often far too tempting to ignore.
Let’s explore some tactics to maintain momentum or use the downtime to your advantage through the end-of-calendar year:
Make a list
Add the party that has deferred the conversation or decision to a group or individual tickler file to generate contact reminder (usually email) at 12:01 AM January 2nd. Hey, it’s “after the first”! At the least it will alert the contact that the season has been enjoyed and it is now time to get back to business. This will certainly keep you top-of-mind and top-of-inbox!
Follow up with colleagues that have not been close to you and your circle in a while. Reconnect, if only virtually, to help shore up your network of support. Certainly, use the holidays as a reason for the contact and make sure to have a plan to follow up in the new year.
If you tend to be content with clutter, now is the perfect time to develop a beneficial habit. Clutter, physical and virtual, distracts and slows every activity. Think of “The Rock on the Counter Syndrome”: if someone placed a dirty rock from the landscaping on the corner of your desk, you would most likely say “Hey! Why is that rock there?! It doesn’t belong!”. But you do nothing today because you are busy with your agenda. Tomorrow, the rock is still there. But you have an event and meetings, and you take no corrective action. After a few days, the rock will blend in with your existing clutter and disappear. Too, if that someone came back a year later and took the rock, you might say “Hey! Who took the rock!?”. Take a fearless look at your environment and purge.
Make a plan
What wasn’t accomplished this year that should have been? What happened that could have been prevented or at least shaped for a better outcome? Make a list of things that need to be readdressed for either situation. Prioritize and put targets (the “what” by “when”) and backstops (Are we off track?). Start a playbook for the year. Then work your plan.
If you need specialty training in your position/department, seek it out and complete it now. Then end of year is a great time to utilize cancelled meetings due to PTO to start and get ahead on self-improvement activities. Spend the extra downtime getting better, you can end the year stronger and be ready for next year’s challenges. Luck is when preparation meets opportunity. Train as you fight, fight as you train.
The Second Law of Thermodynamics and your Sock Drawer
The Second Law deals with entropy, the fact that all systems devolve into chaos. It is their nature; it cannot be any other way. Unless energy is consistently put into the system, no system can maintain itself. Imagine it is laundry day and you have just organized your sock drawer: Dress socks, black, brown, patterns, argyles, gym socks, crews. Perfect. Tomorrow you are late and hastily grab for a pair of socks. And the day after tomorrow. By Day 3 your organized drawer has gone the way of galaxies and has devolved into chaos. No energy to maintain order of the system had been spent, hence, it will take far greater energy to rectify and bring order back than if you had just spent a little energy each day with mindfulness. What systems require a dose of focused maintenance? Identify them and make awareness of your systems a priority.
Take a different approach
The OODA Loop Col. John Boyd, USAF (Ret)
What is your department’s leaders’ decision-making process look like? Can it be explained like a recipe? Can it be followed, verified, and replicated again and again? Has the process been memorialized and trained to in onboarding and development? This time of season is a perfect opportunity to seize upon a new way of approaching opportunities.
Below is Colonel Boyd’s recipe for accurate decision-making created from dogfighting in US Air Force.
Bottom line for the end of the year
People aren’t getting back to you? List of tasks waiting for decisions to move forward? Are you being put off until “after the first”? Good. That means you are not obligated for a little while and it’s not your issue. Use this time to your advantage and make personal progress. You’ll be better for it and come out of the holiday gate ahead!
Culinary Pride: Foodservice Week October 2-8, 2022
Posted on October 3rd, 2022
Each sub-unit of the Food & Nutrition Team plays a vital role that supports both the internal and external guest. As we prepare to celebrate the efforts of our Foodservice teams this year, let’s take a moment to focus on all the individual parts that comprise a well-working whole.
Do your sub-units maximize their contributions? Let’s take a look from the dock, in…
Procurement: the “Tip of the Spear”. During this unprecedented supply chain climate, have you reviewed your par levels/days-of-stock-on-hand (DSO’s)? Best practice is to maintain 5 days perishable/10 days non-perishable. This does not include the 96-hour emergency reserve.
Does purchasing keep ahead of need? Ordering strategy should “protect the inventory” meaning that no product is received in the day, for the day. This preserves first-in, first-out (FIFO) and greatly reduces stress for colleagues looking for what they need next.
Production: The Girdle. More than foundational, the way prep is handled cinches tight your operation. Beyond tallies and HACCP logs, have you taken time to streamline your production methodology so that the least amount of effort is necessary to execute “the last mile”? Potion control, storage, prep vessels, should all be designed so that there should be nothing left to do when that item is ordered except to add heat and plate.
Great mise en place equals great service. Prepare for no more and no less than three days of projected service. This provides for purposeful prep, no scrambling, and best food quality.
Turnout and Trayline: The Heart of the House. This is the turning point where Back of House efforts become guest-facing. Here coordination and collaboration are paramount. Yes, regulatory temperature, diet execution, and sanitation are critical, yet are your colleagues cohesive or is it “us and them”? Empower and authorize both sides to be accountable for guest delight as they are the “last line of defense” against inferior meal service.
Trayline workers must be made to feel comfortable correcting or asking for a re-plate if the meal is not accurate. Pictures of finished plates should be made available to both sides to ensure that food is consistently accurate. Additionally, cooks have every right to ask trayline staff, professionally of course, to “be gentle” or “check that spill” if observed. Foster a camaraderie conducive to the best patient care possible.
Delivery: The Ambassadors. Whether intentionally designated as such, meal delivery personnel are the ambassadors of the department to the guests and hospital units. Everyone sees them, and, subsequently, creates an image of the FANS brand outside of the unit. Courtesy and guest delight are more than survey questions, they must be embraced and practiced every day, every tray.
Are your truly front-line staff able to interface with nursing and work together for better outcomes? Do they employ suggestive “selling” when assisting patients with meal ordering? Are they comfortable sharing the good and the bad with the Culinary Team to improve service? Feedback is invaluable for Team improvement…encourage that!
Utility/Sanitation: The base of the pyramid. Regardless of the prowess of the culinary team, nothing happens if there aren’t clean, hot plates to serve. So often overlooked until the unit is short-staffed, this team holds the entire operation together.
Often the best first job in the hospital, what can you do to train, educate, and promote these entry-level folks. Do they get out-and-about more than pulling soiled carts and dumpster runs? Once proficient in the dish room, find ways to include them and encourage personal growth. Reinforce their importance publicly and coach the rest of the staff to help wherever possible to make their jobs easier.
Retail: The External Face. A meeting place, a break from the action, nourishment. The café is an oasis of comfort for colleagues and visitors alike. And all guests are under some level of stress.
Create a welcoming environment that nurtures everyone in this public space. Does your grill cook understand the importance of their job? Are your areas clean and organized to provide the most convenient possible service without “extra work” on the part of the guest? Look for ways to add joy and surprise to the dining experience.
Catering: The Internal Face. Though currently limited, how the catering department performs creates the staff’s perception of FANS throughout the facility. Catering associates are the marketing arm of the unit and are key to fostering intramural relationships.
Embrace events from the angle of outreach to the client department with a goal of creating stronger bonds of collaboration. Are your catering associates savvy to current events of all areas in the department? They can act as de facto town criers that can build empathy between departments. Make sure they are leading with positive reporting when they are out and about.
Bottom line: Focus the team on ‘Guest delight versus Customer Satisfaction’. Service that is transactional can provide satisfaction. Hospitality goes to the next level; it happens for you, not to you.
“You are personally responsible for your guests’ happiness while they are under your roof.”
– Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
Happy Environmental Services Week! September 11-17, 2022
Posted on September 11th, 2022
This week we will recognize environmental services workers across the world, a group of professionals who impact everyone everywhere. These individuals whose work is mostly noticed when not done, but seldomly noticed when done properly are the secret behind great infection prevention in our buildings. Over the last few years, we have now recognized these workers as “essential”, as they contribute minimizes harmful pathogens that have been thrust into the spotlight of Covid-19.
Take a moment this week to show gratitude and appreciation for the workers who clean around you, disinfect your restrooms, remove your trash, or make your environment aesthetically pleasing. Doing all of these tasks with little recognition, and many times resource-challenged, covering multiple roles.
The RSA team wants to take a minute to send a THANK YOU! to Environmental Services workers, across the world. You are a YOU ARE ESSENTIAL and should be recognized as such!
Happy Environmental Services Week From RSA!
National Waffle Day!
Posted on August 24th, 2022
4th of July
Posted on July 7th, 2022
Fireworks from the Kitchen
What are you doing to promote excitement, engagement, and surprise in the kitchen?
Competition is the surest way to drive innovation in your operation.
Too, competing can extract food cost-saving ideas as well as better methods of production that could ease current food inflation and labor constraints.
Look at the automotive industry; without competitive racing and the drive to get better and faster, your vehicle would still have a carburetor instead of an electronic fuel injection.
Competition in foodservice can take on many forms, let’s look at a few:
- Sanctioned events.
These are Local, Regional, and National level events. They are hosted by an accredited association (American Culinary Federation, Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, etc.). These are very intense and well-advertised. Participation requires support up and down the leadership chain and can make for newfound interest for colleagues outside Foodservice. Awards and participation also include CEUs to assist with certification.
- Food producer sponsored.
Usually National or Regional, these manifest in promotional recipe contests, social media submissions, and occasionally, live cooking competitions. Innovation comes from the creative use of a common ingredient or through the discovery of a new food item. New origin (exotic), change of traditional environment (fresh vs. canned), and “new-to-market” foods make curiosity push the envelope for experimentation. These are promoted year-round online and in print as advertisements. Awards could be cash and/or promotional materials.
- Taste of the Town.
These municipal events are typically a fundraiser for a local initiative. They are set up in a dine-around tasting format and attract restaurants and caterers. This is a wonderful way to highlight the culinary talent of the local hospital. Healthcare of the future certainly includes community outreach, and these events are a perfect forum to start building an “awareness bridge” with residents. Awards are normally bragging rights such as “People’s Choice” and local press acknowledgment.
- Food Festivals.
While not formal competitions, these certainly create a friendly rivalry between community culinarians. These tasting events showcase local to national talent and creativity. Prizes and awards may or may not be included, yet the marketing connection to the community is worth the investment.
PRO TIP: be sure to bring a small serving tray. It is a tradition to share samples with the other participants. Have an ambassador (runner) that can speak to your program and the recipe of the food item being shared with fellow teams.
- In-house events.
Whether a stand-alone facility or a national health system, intramural competition is sure to drive creativity. Engage as many disciplines as possible. Marketing could create a theme while clinicians could set up nutritional guardrails and approve the submissions. Obtain media involvement if leadership would allow it. Hold all submissions as potential new menu additions for the next revision cycle. Naming the menu item after the creator doubles down on the pride factor and will ensure outstanding execution daily.
Never a “walk-on”, getting on a cooking show requires more than raw talent. Marketing and networking are key to getting a berth on any of the networks or platforms. Once there, have fun! What a great vehicle to dispel the popular perception of “hospital food”!
PRO TIP: Know your organization’s social media guidelines. Producers favor those that promote themselves; just stay within the rules!
Here are some key points for your next attempt:
- Concept. Decide what you will cook and why. Be true to your concept when making all decisions.
- Know your strengths. Unless you have the time and resources to develop an unfamiliar technique, do what you do best.
- Be mindful of seasonal ingredients that may be difficult to source or be at their best when the competition takes place.
- Practice, practice, practice. At least ten full practices are needed to perform well at a sanctioned competition. Have a minute-by-minute timeline and adjust as you gain confidence and speed. Put in the time.
Best of luck!
Posted on June 15th, 2022
By definition, a father is “a man in relation to his child or children” according to this definition from dictionary.com every one of us has a father and our existence is partially a result of our father.
June 19, 2022, but let’s not wait till father’s day a father can be celebrated every day. Each day should be a day of recognizing individuals’ whether it’s a father, family member, co-worker, friend, or just another person you come in contact with. Even though having a special day to recognize an individual is special, recognition doesn’t require a special day.
The first Father’s Day holiday celebration was in 1910, 2 years after Mother’s Day in 1908 but wasn’t nationally recognized until 1972, nearly 58 years after the recognition of Mother’s Day.
It’s that lack of recognition, that makes a good father so special, fathers provide stability, strength, guidance, and leadership with little fan fare or recognition. These fathers are your soldiers, police officers, firefighters, chefs, and environmental services workers. They are not often seeking recognition and don’t require a special day, but on this day June 19, 2022, it is the day created to acknowledge their contributions to our society.
Happy Father’s Day from RSA!
In memory of Chef Steve Bergman. His first post for RSA 17 years ago.
Posted on May 13th, 2022
By Steve Bergman CEC
First published October 2005 by Ruck-Shockey Associates, Inc. (RSA)
Welcome to Culinary Corner. As a chef, I always try to use the freshest seasonal ingredients at my disposal. Using quality ingredients, prepared with proper techniques, and combined sensibly in a recipe always results in excellent food.
Autumn is…a chill in the air, a new school year, shades of brown, orange, gold…sweaters. The world seems to be awakening from the doldrums of summer. Here is a hearty breakfast treat on a cool fall morning. Your customers will be coming back for more:
Granola-crusted French Toast (serves 20)
|5 cups whole eggs
2½ cups whole milk
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
|Whisk together until well blended.|
|40 ½-inch thick slices of bread (Texas toast or Challah)||Soak bread in egg wash until absorbed, turning once.|
|8 cups crunchy granola, slightly crumbled (no large lumps)||Coat both sides of bread with granola. Place on sheet pans until ready to griddle. Separate layers with parchment.|
|Clarified butter (for griddling)||Griddle on medium heat, turning once until both sides are golden brown.|
|Pure maple syrup (condiment)||Serve with pure maple syrup.|
Of course, pure maple syrup is somewhat of a luxury, especially to those of us watching our food cost – and who is not? As a culinarian, however, I present it as the ingredient of choice. This dish will do fine with commercial pancake syrup. For your “special” functions…administrators, doctors, professors, board of directors…impress them with the best. This segues perfectly into my informational segment…about Pure Maple Syrup:
Did you know?
It requires 40 gallons of sap to produce one gallon of maple syrup. A maple tree is not large enough to tap until it is 40 years of age. It takes 4-5 taps to produce enough sap (40 gallons) for a gallon of syrup. Maple sap forms only when the spring thaw begins to turn the starches in the trees into sugars through a natural enzymatic process. The sap flows only when weather conditions provide freezing nights and warmer days. The sap is then collected and transported to the sugarhouse, where it is transformed into maple syrup. Fancy (light amber) maple syrup is wonderful, especially when adding a subtle flavor to soups, sauces, salad dressings, etc., but the medium amber syrup is more readily available, and it is what I recommend for commercial operators.
Try this amazing homemade Bacon Ranch salad dressing with a baby spinach salad:
Buttermilk and Applewood-smoked Bacon Dressing
|12 thick slices of applewood-smoked bacon, sliced crosswise 1/4″||Cook bacon over medium heat in a frying pan until crisp. Drain and pat with paper towels. Cool and reserve.|
|2 cups mayonnaise
2 cups buttermilk
6 tablespoons scallion tops, diag. sliced 1/8″
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 dashes Tabasco
2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
|In a large bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to blend. You can then mix in the diced bacon or, as I do, dress the salads and then sprinkle the bacon on top as a garnish.|
Steve Bergman CEC was a nationally recognized expert in culinary arts, culinary training, HACCP and food safety, and large food production systems including conventional and cook-chill systems. He was the founder and principal of CEC Culinary Consulting. Chef Bergman contributed to and was a professional affiliate of RSA for over 17 years. We are sad to lose Chef Bergman so quickly and wanted to pay tribute to his work, his partnership, and his passion for all things service, culinary, and people. Thank you, Chef, we will miss you. Georgie Shockey, Carolyn Ruck, and the entire RSA family.
Here’s to a Good Laugh!
Posted on April 29th, 2022
Welcome to the month of May! And the first Sunday in May, which happens to be May 1st is also dubbed World Laughter Day. #WorldLaughterDay
Some fun facts about this day: It was started in Mumbai, India in 1998. The organizer, Dr. Madan Kataria, an Indian family physician was motivated to establish the Laughter Yoga movement. Her rationale for starting this was likely captured in this thought, “I have not seen anyone dying of laughter, but I know millions who are dying because they are not laughing.” (Madan Kataria) On that day about 12,000 members of the International Laughter Club joined in a mega laugh session. Today more than 100 countries commemorate World Laughter Day.
Research shows1 that the average adult laughs 18 times a day! What is it about laughing with a group of friends or colleagues about something that becomes infectious, and you are holding your sides or tears are pouring out because you had that full laugh going for a few minutes?
Maybe it was a funny story that was shared. Or the giggles were over an idea that was too lame to really act on but amused all the friends around the table. Those fits of laughter moments are a way to positively release some stress and lower that blood pressure too! We need a laugh a day perhaps more than an apple a day.
Some of the reported benefits of a good laugh are that it can improve cardiac health. Who knew you could get a good cardio workout with a healthy laugh? It gets your heart pumping at a level that burns calories equal to a slow to moderate walk! Work those abs too…is there a better way to get that toned stomach? Lowering that blood pressure with a good laugh is also one of the benefits.
Most importantly, laughing produces a sense of well-being. If you laugh at things, yourself, a movie line, or a joke you are going to be a more positive person and that can carry you forward in lots of great ways!
So, as we approach this day, plan some fun for the day or even extend into the week or month. As they say, laughter is the best medicine. What can we do to help our teams and those we work with have a great day and boost their endorphins? To get your funny bones started, here are a few ideas.
Create a list of the funniest movies and post it for others to enjoy. Bring a comedy club to your business or group. Look up and tell a quick joke in your daily team huddles, and have staff bring their best stand-up comedy to a huddle. Of course, make sure the joke or story is all good for public sharing. Post a cartoon. Channel Jim Carrey, Woody Allen, or Eddie Murphy when you do your stand-up routine when it’s your turn to share!
“The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter.” (Mark Twain)
1. Martin and Kuiper, “Daily Occurrence of Laughter” (Humor, January 1999)
Energize Your Team and Facility with Your Spring Cleaning!
Posted on April 1st, 2022
Spring is in the air! it is not only a time for pollen, and allergies.
Spring is a time, a season for new beginnings, a time for rebirth.
The days are getting longer, the weather is getting warmer, and flowers are blooming.
Spring is also the perfect time for Spring Cleaning! Spring cleaning is a tradition that dates back centuries. Some say it originates from biblical times after Passover believers are supposed to refrain from leavened foodstuffs (chametz), they are expressly commanded to rid their homes of even small remnants of chametz for the length of the holiday (Exodus 12:15). Hence spring cleaning!
In the healthcare environment, spring cleaning is periodic cleaning. Periodic cleaning is cleaning that is done throughout the year, but on a scheduled basis, it could be weekly, monthly, annually, or some combination or permutation of such.
This time of year, the floors that are at the main entrance could use a little extra care. The salt and weather if you are in the northern part of the country takes its toll. In the southern part, a look ahead to your ability to store extra product to get ready for hurricane season, so cleaning out that storeroom would be wise to do now!
Look at your facility, area by area or room by room. What needs additional attention to really make the area shine? Do you look past the clutter of storage areas, wheelchair holding spaces? Take a walk outside now that the weather is getting better. What attention does it need to welcome your patients and guests?
Other ideas for your spring-cleaning list could include:
✔ Wall Washing
✔ Grout Cleaning
✔ Stripping & Refinishing Floors
✔ Pressure Washing Concrete
✔ Cubicle Curtain Cleaning / Replacement
✔ Cleaning / Replacing Drapes
✔ Detail Cleaning Stretchers
✔ Detail Cleaning Wheelchairs
✔ Detail Cleaning Drinking Fountains or Filling Stations
✔ Washing Wet Floor Signs
✔ Scrubbing Trash Cans
Typically, in a healthcare environment, these tasks can normally be done in one day or over the course of one week. However, it could be a suitable time to be proactive and create your personalized periodic cleaning log to assure that you have that “spring clean” appearance in your facility all year long.
Make this a fun event for your staff. Maybe have a spring-cleaning contest. Whose area will get the Spring-Cleaning Award? Have your leadership do a walk around and give kudos for that extra effort. This will go miles for you and your team’s engagement.
How does your periodic cleaning schedule look? Is it meeting the needs of your facility? If not, this is the perfect time to refresh it! And as always if you need assistance with this or any other support services or interim leadership opportunities RSA is here to help!
Spice up your taste buds and build an immune system with healthy spices in your diet!
Posted on March 1st, 2022
Spices not only just excite your taste buds but are also composed of an impressive list of phytonutrients, essential oils, antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins that are essential for overall wellness!
Spices have been an integral part of our food for centuries, and today, even become more relevant for us in medicine. As the experience of the world is becoming more global, the usage of spices and flavors reaches almost all households worldwide.
Spices can be categorized botanically according to their source of plant part as follows:
1. Leaves of aromatic plants: Examples include bay leaf, rosemary, thyme, curry, etc.
2. Fruits or seeds: Examples include fennel, nutmeg, coriander, fenugreek, mustard, and black pepper, etc.
3. Roots or bulbs: Examples include garlic, galangal, turmeric, ginger, etc.
4. Bark: Cinnamon, Cassia, etc.
How spices accent and improve our diet
- Spices contain plant-derived chemical compounds that are known to have disease-preventing and health-promoting properties. They have been in use since ancient times for their anti-inflammatory, carminative, anti-flatulent properties.
- Spices are a powerhouse of various essential acids that your body needs for stimulation.
- Components in the spices have been found to have an anti-clotting function (prevent clogging of platelets in the blood vessels) and thus help to ease blood flow, preventing stroke episodes and coronary artery disease. Garlic as an example.
- Spices contain a good amount of minerals like potassium, manganese, iron, and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps in controlling heart rate and blood pressure. The human body uses manganese as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase.
- Not related to diet – spices are used in many forms of treatments for example:
- Throat gargling with tepid thyme water can help relieve sore throats and bronchitis symptoms. Thyme is also being used as an antiseptic mouthwash in the treatment of caries and gingivitis.
- Extracts of certain healthy spices are used for the treatment of colds, influenza, mild fevers, indigestion, stomach upset, and painful menstruation.
Culinary uses of spices
Spices can be aromatic or pungent in flavor; and peppery or slightly bitter to taste. To keep their fragrance and flavor intact, learn when to add spices to the recipes – for many it is at the final moment since prolonged cooking results in the evaporation of much of their essential oils.
- Since ancient times, spices are being employed in the preparation of soups, barbecue sauces, pickling, and as the main ingredient in a variety of curry powders.
- Spices, along with some seasonal herbs, are being used to enhance the flavor and taste of vegetable, chicken, fish, and meat dishes.
- Some healthy spices like cloves, cardamom, coriander, etc., are also being used in flavored drinks.
Whether you want to spice up your curry or eliminate joint inflammation, spices can do a lot. Spices like turmeric, cardamom, and cinnamon have remained a crucial part of ancient remedies due to powerful nutritional value. Moreover, other spice options like tamarind, paprika, and nutmeg do not only enhance the aroma of your meals but treat issues heartburn, nausea, and indigestion as well. Spices chiefly composed of essential oils, phytochemicals, antioxidants, vitamins, and phytosterols should be consumed in minute quantities in the diet. Medicinally, spices are employed as a home remedy to improve digestion, to get relief from arthritic pain and sore muscles, and as a poultice or in hot baths.
Registered Dietitian Nutritionists also suggest incorporation of spices daily as a part of your healthy diet.
Comfort for the Core: Heartwarming meal planning for your patients and guests
Posted on February 5th, 2022
We often speak of Comfort Foods as stick-to-your-ribs childhood favorites from Nana’s kitchen. This is accurate and there is much more behind it than simple nostalgia.
Since we as a species ceased nomadic wandering and established early society of agriculture, we have been eating what are now called comfort foods during times of great stress and scarcity.
All great cuisines have the same two basic components constituting their comfort foods: a bland starch with a piquant, protein-laden sauce.
During the colder months, we had storage-friendly starches: roots, grains, tubers, farinas, and rhizomes.
What didn’t we have…MEAT!
Hence, what evolved from available ingredients became classic foods that we are physiologically predisposed to crave when under pressure. It’s the way we’ve been eating for thousands of generations.
- Pasta and Meat Sauce
- Matzoh Ball Soup
- Shepherds’ Pie
- Pork Fried Rice
- Red Beans & Rice
- Biscuits & Gravy
- Pad Thai
- Any stew…
- Even Mac-n-Cheese
How wonderful would it be to incorporate this equation into your Patient and Retail menus? Everyone in the hospital is dealing with some level of stress…the body knows what it wants! Take these classics and shape a balanced core menu that can be executed with proper nutrition and be enthusiastically consumed. Work with the Culinary and Clinical Teams to make recipes that are sound for health and diet order AND that “eat well” (read: suggest using penne instead of spaghetti, it is much easier to eat in a hospital bed!).
These types of dishes are a win for everyone:
- Guests love them (even if they don’t notice the history)
- Recipes can be easily shaped across multiple diets and nutritional requirements
- They can be prepared with existing equipment in bulk
- Center-of-the-Plate is lower in portion cost on average making them profitable
Look at your existing menus this winter season and identify what is already offered in this equation and how the menus can be expanded to better outcomes and guest delight.
Winter weather leads the heart look to the stomach for comfort. Our ancestors knew this well and these comforting combinations have been warming our hearts for generations. Click here to see there’s more to it than Grandma’s kitchen!
22 Tips for 2022 Ruck-Shockey Associates, Inc.’s New Year’s Gift to You! PART TWO
Posted on January 28th, 2022
Environmental Services Tips
13. Technology that enables the tracking of your mobile equipment and sometimes the staff person assigned to an area will be employed more so in 2022.
14. Consider obtaining an exoskeleton to support your hardest working staff member so that they are best equipped in their strenuous tasks. Read more about this technology here.
15. Handwashing saw a huge increase in practice over the last 2 years. The BC CDC Study says that washing your hands 5 times per day will reduce infections. Make sure to continue to focus on this best practice in any operation!
16. Speaking of handwashing, technology is going to provide a self-disinfecting door handle, these are either infrared or temperature sensor controls and there are several manufacturers, here is one we know about. What doors does your staff or customer touch the most? This could be a great investment!
17. Credentials for your leaders and your front-line staff will be critical to maintain safe environments and to retain your staff as well!
18. The new eating style to cater to is “reducetarianism”, a person who is not quite vegetarian or vegan, but want to eat less meat, dairy, and eggs
19. What can your culinary team do to create ‘borderless’ menu items. Think flavor combos that are unexpected, sweet with the spicy, or the use of fresh spices or infused aromatic dishes.
20. Technology is getting better, and production grows with alternative products, plant-based meats, and seafood. Has your coffee supplier gone ‘bean less’ yet?
21. Mix and match your culinary talents across the board or invite a guest chef to collaborate and they don’t have to be ‘celebrity’ status just passionate about food!
22. Here are a few trendy ideas for the foodie crowd: Food Trends of 2022 | Top 22 Trends | Cozymeal
22 Tips for 2022 Ruck-Shockey Associates, Inc.’s New Year’s Gift to You! PART ONE
Posted on January 17th, 2022
The RSA team has scoured the internet, our own experiences to share with you some ideas and tips for the new year. Stay tuned for Part Two as well!
Tips for All
1. Know your customers. Do you know the profile, demographic of each of your customer groups? Work with your leadership to glean some insights then apply those to your menu, services, technology, etc. Don’t assume one size fits all!
2. Data analytics needs to be in your everyday tool kit measure and know your operation. Work with your finance team to create this for 2022.
3. Take a fresh look at your scheduling patterns. What can be done to diversify your shifts, start times, and/or the number of days they work per week to accommodate staff that could fill them if not so rigid? Balance needs of the operation with the staff’s needs.
4. Has your facility researched AI solutions for chatbots that could ease the burden of staffing a call center full time? What can you do to prompt them to consider it?
5. Labor shortages will continue, what are you doing to offer incentives like wellness perks or upskilling your team? Do you have an internal development program that can provide a progression from front line to front office?
6. Conduct monthly innovation meetings with your leadership team AND your front-line team as well as your customers. You never know where the best ideas will come from!
7. Soft skills such as emotional intelligence, managing dispersed teams and effective communication will be highly respected in 2022. What are you doing to develop these in yourself and others on your team? Here are some resources to help you.
8. Supply chain strategies for 2022 – look at your supply needs, what can you do to prioritize your must-have items? Create a system that is agile, adaptable, and resilient vs. just efficient and your operation will have longer staying power!
9. Spice up your retail with some fun or meaningful themes. Here’s a favorite link to check out.
10. Does your retail location(s) have a social media presence? If not, create one. 91% of millennials trust these sources the most!
11. Can your team send “right now” offers to your customers? The capability to entice them into your operation or boost sales for a hot new menu item is a must!
12. Contactless innovations continue with more personalization. How can you make customer connections during their purchase or pick up in your operation?
International Chefs Day – A Tribute to the Culinarians from Ruck-Shockey Associates, Inc.
Posted on October 20th, 2021
On October 20th we celebrate a great group of people that keep us all entertained with food, recipes, and showmanship in and around the kitchens of hospitals, retirement homes, colleges, universities, corporate headquarters, and other venues not to mention those in restaurants too!
Ruck-Shockey is honored to have a group of very talented culinarians on our team. You can find more about them all here.
• Michael Babines
• Steve Bergman
• Jennifer Hesmondhalgh
• Donnell Jones-Craven
• Anthony Laub
• Michael Salvatore
What do these food leaders do to keep ahead of the culinary trends? How do they flex those math skills in the kitchen to scale that recipe brought in by one of your customers? What makes them put tuna with cauliflower and expect someone to eat or enjoy it!?
Our team does all that and more on any given day in any operation that they are partnering with. They lead a team of production staff, cooks, sous chefs, and others with ease. They make cooking for 100’s look super easy. The food comes in the door, but how do they know what to bring in, what ingredient will work in that recipe? The food goes through its process and then comes out with a beautiful plate presentation. And they hardly break a sweat!
The dedication to a craft, learning the skill of cooking and the science and math behind each culinarian is amazing. Some biochemists can’t even do the ‘food math’ involved in scaling a recipe. And know that behind every great dietitian is a Chef genius helping them scale or find an ingredient that takes it from a ‘bad’ food to a good food with the flick of an order guide!
“To become a doctor, you need to go to medical school. To become a lawyer, you need a J.D. But to become a chef, you just put your time in at restaurants and learn by doing.” – Caroline Schiff
A few of our chefs have shared their favorite recipes for you to try at home or maybe put into your operation. We hope you enjoy the treat and likewise share your favorites with others.
Help us celebrate these great men and women of the culinary world and say thank you to the ‘chef’ the next time you dine out or grab a bite to go!
“People who love to eat are always the best people.” – Julia Child
Happy Environmental Services Week! September 12 – 18, 2021
Posted on September 12th, 2021
Essential yet underappreciated, is the phrase that most adequately describes Environmental Services. Over the past nearly 2 years the team of workers who minimizes harmful pathogens have been thrusted into the spotlight this year because of Covid-19, which has caused environmental hygiene to be on everyone’s number one concern. Disinfectant has been sold out, hand sanitizer has been flying off the shelves, and all cleaning products have seen a tremendous increase in sales. People are disinfecting packages, groceries, and using wipes on everything to protect themselves! However, life threating harmful pathogens did not just occur as a result of the Pandemic, your environmental services team at your local hospital, long term living facility, outpatient clinic, nursing home, or skilled nursing facility who has always been there to protect against harmful pathogens, they are the team that cleans and disinfects your environment, they make sure that the room is prepared for the next patient, visitor, or guest, they keep soap, and sanitizer filled, among many of their tasks, often working understaffed, being over looked, or looked past…. The RSA team wants to take a minute to send a THANK YOU! to Environmental Services workers, across the world. You are an ESSENTIAL HERO and should be recognized as such!
Happy Environmental Services Week From RSA!
How Support Services Departments Can Prevail Post Pandemic
Posted on June 29th, 2021
As the fear of Covid-19 subsides and things normalize, a common theme is expressed across support services throughout the nation. We do not have enough engaged team members to support our mission! At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic many businesses including medical facilities had to do more with less, significantly reducing workforces. As a result, finding support services workers has been a challenge, the pandemic exacerbated a preexisting shift in the labor force that was already occurring.
Over the past years the stable base support services workers who worked at the facilities for decades and became a fixture of that facility have been retiring, the fear of Covid-19 only increased this transition. This base of support services workers can never be replaced. As a substitution, new generational workers have filled these roles, and do not have the same work ethic for labor tasks, nor the longevity of their predecessors.
What are you doing differently to attract and retain talent? Are you doing anything different than you did 10 years ago? Changes in the wants and desires of people cannot be avoided but must be addressed. Addressing these concerns are paramount for the success of not only medical support services but all labor orientated business. However, many organizations have been resistant to change, nor have they adapted to or overcome this cultural change, and still operate the same way they did 10-20 years ago. Has your organization adopted policies, procedures, or strategies in your operations to accommodate the generation X, Y, or Z workers? Do you know what each generation wants / needs to be loyal, attracted to a position, or what it takes for retaining them?
The core issue is leadership, leaders often fail to adapt their approach to multi-generational team members and often resort to an authoritarian task orientated approach to management. While in previous generations this may have been effective, strict adherence to rules, regulations, and structure is not as much a focus with the current generation of team members. Organizations must invest in leadership development, to be successful. Focus on giving leaders the tools, knowledge, skills, support, and resources to run a successful operation. While it is questionable how much leadership is inherent vs. developed, leadership is a skill that can and should be enhanced for the overall success. Now that you know the answer, what do you plan to do to implement change?
Senior Director Ruck-Shockey
The Rites of Spring
Posted on March 24th, 2021
The melting snow of Winter gives way to the Chef’s favorite season, Spring. Thoughts of fiddleheads, morels, stinging nettles, peas, cardoons, and ramps excite the senses in anticipation of a fresh new crop.
Foremost among these fleeting gifts of Nature is asparagus. Tender, crisp, and vibrant, these Vernal harbingers sprout forth, begging to be cooked!
Asparagus, while available year-round, is at its best in the month of April. This member of the Lily Family has been cultivated for about 2500 years. The Ancient Greek and Romans revered this cousin of onion and garlic for its perceived medicinal properties. They believed that asparagus could cure toothaches and prevent bee stings as well as being an aphrodisiac. The tender shoots grow from “crowns” buried in loose, sandy soil. Plants mature after about three years, peak at six to eight, and will continue producing for up to fifteen years if well maintained.
Select asparagus that has tight, well-formed tips, and firm stalks. Larger diameter stalks cook to be more tender than the “pencil” thin ones. Keep asparagus cold and wrapped in moist toweling around the bottom. Consume as soon as possible after purchase for optimum flavor.
To prepare asparagus, hold the base and bend the stalks. The stalks will break naturally in the perfect spot. Do not discard the bottoms; they can be used in vegetable stock or as the base for soup. The stems can be peeled if desired with a vegetable peeler starting from the broken end and cutting upwards. Bring salted water to a boil and cook the asparagus until it is as done as you wish, about three to eight minutes depending on thickness. Immediately remove the cooked asparagus and plunge them into an ice water bath to “shock” them and stop the cooking process. Skipping this step will result in “carry-over” cooking which will cause the once bright green, crisp spears to become soggy, stringy, and grey. Drain the asparagus and gently reheat just before serving in whole butter (just a little!). Season with Kosher salt and black pepper to taste and enjoy!
National Nutrition Month™ – “Personalize your Plate”
™The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Posted on March 5th, 2021
There is a no one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition and health. We are all unique with different bodies, goals, backgrounds, and tastes. Personalizing our plate is important as we journey through our life stages and changing how we eat as our tastes change while maintaining a healthy balance of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy and protein rich foods.
Tips to breakthrough change for healthier eating:
- Cook with dried spices and herbs instead of salt to add flavor to your dishes
- Mix up quality protein from animal and plant sources – beans and lentils are a good heart healthy plant-based protein
- Sprinkle chia or ground flax seeds on cereal, salad or toast to increase consumption of mega-3 fatty acids
- Add flavor using low sodium broths to food while cooking instead of oils
- Use vegetable oils for cooking and as seasonings instead of butter – small amounts are good
- Manage your portions – fill more of your plate with fruits and vegetables and quarter with grains and quarter with proteins
- Limit sugar, when sweetener is needed consider honey. Natural products are better than substitutes
A Registered Dietitian Nutritionists is your best source to help one navigate and fine tune a person’s personal plate for a health and wellness. For more information regarding dietary guidelines and myplate information go to https://www.eatright.org/food/nutrition/dietary-guidelines-and-myplate/get-the-facts-on-dietary-guidelines-myplate-and-food-labels?_ga=2.185990825.1278110923.1614794124-1045692902.1614198312
Twelve Attributes That Seed and Lead You To Grow
Posted on December 8th, 2020
Success is defined differently by different people. Some say it is what one has achieved and how far has one reached in their endeavors. Others define the achievement of what was in mind at the start. Still, others say it is not how far you reached but where you started from. There may well be some other definitions of success. But all definitions have one common component. It is called Growth! How well one Grows in their personal and professional life, contributes significantly to their success!
“I learned to always take on things, I had never done before. Growth and comfort do not co-exist.” Ginny Rometty, Executive Chairman – IBM Corporation
Most people start thinking of what they want to be at an early age, like in high school. Many others begin planning for their future while in college. Former US president William Jefferson Clinton had envisioned of becoming a US president at the age of 17 when he met with then President John F. Kennedy as part of the top high school students’ group, at a White House event. Some others start great new businesses while still in college – such as Debbi Fields of Mrs. Fields Cookies and Michael Dell of Dell Computers and so many others. But for the most of us it is a thoughtful, planned, disciplined and tenacious process to achieve successes as we Grow and reach our dreams, defined on our own terms. It is never too late to begin Growing or Grow even higher in your professional or personal life, if you have the vision, the passion, creative energy, and dedication for it!
“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” Oprah Winfrey – Famous Author and Television personality
There are Twelve attributes that Seed and Lead your Growth process and contribute significantly to a successful journey of your personal and professional life! These attributes are distinctly divided into three areas and listed below: Personal Traits; Professional Knowledge and Real-Life Leadership Skills. I suggest that beginning with January 2021 focus on, one attribute each month. Learn, practice, and Grow through-out the upcoming year!
- Personal Vision – The first step to achieving success and lifetime of personal satisfaction is knowing what your natural talents and personality traits are. Career choices based on what you enjoy doing the most are very likely to bring you inner joy and pinnacle of success. It will also cultivate a passionate desire to continuously Grow!
- Personal Dedication – Once you know what you want to become or achieve, it is crucial to make a personal commitment to prepare and plan for what is needed to reach your goals and dreams. The higher the goals the more the dedication is required. Personal sacrifices made during the Growth phase generally have enormous rewards.
“What you do has far greater impact than what you say.” Stephen Covey, Author and Educator.
- High degree of Emotional Intelligence – Through this journey of Growth everyone faces unplanned challenges, physical fatigue and at times emotional weakness. Your patience, your hopes and dreams and your passion will keep you emotionally calm and propel you moving forward.
- Technical Knowledge – Whatever your dreams or goals, it will very likely require a technical education whether a diploma, a four-year college degree or a post graduate education. Although many well-known and highly successful people had not even attended a college or finished college education. John D. Rockefeller, one of the wealthiest Americans of all time and founder of the Standard Oil Company and Dave Thomas, founder of the Wendy’s Hamburgers were not even high school graduates. Bill Gates, founder of the Microsoft Corporation did not even finish college.
But for a vast majority of us the road to success and Growth and personal and professional life achievements is receiving the best possible education. The more you dedicate to receiving great education, the higher the likelihood of achieving superior grades and other academic recognition.
- Developed Knowledge – Once your formal education is complete and you begin a career, you will then need to learn and develop more practical and useable knowledge. This is even more significant for those who may not have reached their potential during college in receiving higher grades! You will need to take every opportunity to attend professional, career related seminars and subject matter conferences. You will also need to participate in special projects and new and innovative initiatives. To further develop your knowledge, you should also seek to learn other skills that will expand your expertise and help you further, Grow!
“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” Steve Jobs, Co-founder, and former CEO of Apple Inc.
Real-Life Leadership Skills
- Interactive Skills – Interactive skills have two components. Listening and Responding. People around you want you to listen more and talk less. You should listen with empathy and seek to understand first before being understood. When responding, do so with due respect, clarity, and a sincere desire to create a win-win situation. On-going improvements in your Interactive skills makes other people more comfortable in relating to you. It earns you more new and valuable professional contacts
- People Skills – People skills, simply put are how you relate to other people. If there is any place for pro-activity this is it. When meeting new people, show respect, shake hand firmly, make eye contact with polite smile and learn their names. Dealing with people with integrity, humility, respect, and honor is just a start. Aiding others in areas of your strengths helps build positive business relationships. Be pro-active to go an extra step for others.
- Problem Solving Skills – Problem solving skills have two components. Critical thinking and Being flexible. Critical thinking skill prompts you to clearly understand the scope of the problem or an issue and identifying the causes. Being flexible empowers you to find rational and practical solutions. It may also tempt you to seek help when appropriate to resolve any problem that you may be experiencing for the first time
- Practicing Teamwork Skills – Teamwork is when a group of people or components work together in harmony to achieve a pre-planned objective or a pre-designed outcome. Having a clear understanding of the team’s objectives, pre-defined goals and knowing everyone’s role including yours is very important. It provides you the opportunity to collaborate with others. You can exhibit your strengths while simultaneously learning from others. It is so valuable when you acknowledge other team members’ strengths and compliment them with sincerity and respect
“Of all the things I have done, the most vital is coordinating those who work with me and aiming their efforts at a certain goal.” Walt Disney, founder of Disney Company
- Writing Skills – Writing skill is far more important than commonly understood. In today’s business world we write emails, hand notes and other communication vehicles e.g., marketing materials, business letters. A simple educational course on this skill is essential. Appropriately written emails notes etc. make a positive impact on the reader. On the other hand, poorly written emails can cause hidden misunderstandings. People often retain what they understood and choose not to clarify. There are also small books available to further improve your communication skills. I recommend the one I read, ‘Effective Communication Skills’ by Marsha Ludden
- Showing Gratitude Skills –Showing gratitude is more than just a skill! It tells the world who you are as a person and what your life values are. When you offer your sincere thanks and appreciation to others in both professional or personal life, it shows your humility and exhibits your spirit of honoring others. Recognizing other people’s strengths and acknowledging their accomplishments is not just a skill but a virtue. Putting someone ahead of you in any line, may make their day! Showing of gratitude towards others may well inspire them to do the same for others!
To achieve a successful journey in life and reach your goals you must have a personal vision and a well-thought-out plan. You must also be prepared to commit to facing any challenges that may arise. This personal and envisioned journey of successful life also requires a mindset that you must continuously Grow! By following all the steps noted above you will not only Grow, fulfill your dreams, and achieve your goals but also enjoy a successful life journey. You may also become an inspiration to many others around you, which will Seed and Lead them to Grow and succeed as well!
“Champions keep playing until they get it right.” Billie Jean King – Female Tennis Legend
Consultant – Healthcare Support Services
Ruck Shockey Associates
December 7, 2020
Posted on November 3rd, 2020
“You are personally responsible for your guests’ happiness while they are under your roof.”
-Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
We do not espouse “customer satisfaction” in hospitality foodservice. One may order a #3 combo-meal at a drive-thru for $5.79 and “be satisfied”. Guest delight transcends the transactional nature and allows for surprise and joy, exceeding expectations.
It is widely accepted that when purchasing food and service there are elements of service, price, and quality. One may typically choose two. It is also accepted that as quality increases, so does the price (see SQP pyramid below). A branded sale is generally more costly than a generic alternative. The expectation of a consistent level of service remains.
SQP Pyramid, MPS 2003
To accomplish this accurately, the provider must focus on true product. True product is not what is sold; true product is what your guest buys. Ask what the guest is coming to you to receive. Align your Service, Quality, and Price (SQP) of your offerings (menu, delivery, packaging, staff) directly with the desires of the guest. Now more than ever, todays patron is also looking for safety. Clear signage, contactless ordering platforms, improved packaging, and bedside protocols all point to the commitment to safety as a true product. Be sure to include multiple reinforcements of this critical theme.
Commitment to delivering True Product builds consistency with your guests. Consistency builds trust, trust builds loyalty, loyalty builds the Brand. Brand Equity is the perceived reputation in the market. Leaders in their categories often are so dominant that the brand name becomes the generic noun for the category (Xerox, Coke, Kleenex, Band-Aid, etc.). Keep this front-of-mind during all decisions and soon the decision-making process become clearly binary; either it enhances the brand concept, or it deters or blurs that concept.
Engage the staff at all levels and remind them that they all have a role to play to deliver guest delight at every turn. The culinary staff may be extremely talented, yet without clean, hot plates available the service breaks down quickly.
It is everyone’s responsibility to deliver guest delight. Every point of contact is a chance at connection with the guest. Make sure everyone is prepared to deliver service beyond expectations.
A delighted guest becomes the greatest advertising campaign for your establishment. Be better than you must be. Folks will notice!
To see guest delight in practice, please click here!
Ruck Shockey Associates, Inc.
November 11th, 2020
Baby Boomers, CCRC Communities, Hospitality Experience and Modernization Opportunities
Posted on September 8th, 2020
According to the recent 2020 census, the nation’s 65-and-older population is growing rapidly, driven by the Baby Boomers born between 1946 and 1964. This population has grown 34% over the last decade. The first group of Boomers began retiring in 2011. This population has grown up through many changes including: cost of living expenses, impacts on local and global economies, terrorist attacks, increase in the use of technology, changes in food availability, hurricanes damaging the coast a result of the global warming impacted on the planet. Many in this population now operate via a home-based computer, INTERNET connectivity, and cellular phone with just about anything purchased is done through an “APP”, with just in time results.
Recently, I was assigned to a high-end retirement community in the state of Maryland. The facility is classified as a “CCRC” (continuous care residential community) with the average age of a resident at 80 years. The minimum age restriction is 55- with many of this age group coming and going via the use of a personal car. These individuals may even continue working outside of the CCRC community. Regardless of an aging population 55 and older, a person wants to remain as independent as feasible based on individual desires and expectations. The residents in this population desire continued productivity, while having an opinion and his or her voice heard.
Residential communities must identify with the residents needs and desires. The idea of placing a parent in a retirement home, assigning him or her to a room, providing three meals a day, personal safety, medicines with the occasional visit from the assigned physician is missing the values given in today’s residential care, and the CCRC modern living environments. The communities today function as any best run hotel resort experience. Many communities include entertainment in the cultural arts, shopping trips including specific destinations, on campus hair salons, choices in meal plans- including variety of foods and dining options, small micro marts / purchasing small snack items, toiletries, premium coffee service as a Starbucks, and other amenities depending on the community. A CCRC community meets the resident in his or her transition from independent apartment living into an assisted living apartment, and continues the transition to acute health care needs, and in some instance’s memory care. Independent apartment living may range from a large studio apartment, or one- two bedrooms with a large den, two bathrooms, full kitchens, and laundry facilities. Regardless of choice, the resident must be able to maintain his or her apartment. The goal is that the resident spends a quality of life, respective to medical necessity of his or her needs.
What does hospitality become in a residential environment regarding socialization and service when married up with the modernization of gadgets available today?
Guest Service or Guest Relations involves many individuals and departments interacting with the guest, or in this example the residents in a larger community evolution outside of his or her individual apartment. Can the hospitality associate bring an upbeat, professional demeanor as perceived value for our residential customer? Ensuring that the use of gadgets be integrated seamlessly to enhance the service of the associates. In dining services, service styles may differ.
- Café meal service available for all three meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner). Less formal service, linens used for the dinner meal. Each Resident chooses from an ala carte menu options which is applied to the daily meal plan values. Each resident monitors how his or her money is spent through the course of the month via an app on their phone or at the host/hostess check in.
- Formal Dining Room (Dinner Meal Only), – wait staff service, menu selection – served in courses, full linen service, may have a wine steward, full line of bar service, one price for the meal choice, other items would be paid via cash, credit, debit, etc.
- Buffet Dining Service – self-selection of menu items, attendant serving the resident. Beverages served at the table, including wine and bar service. One price – choose any items available in this location.
- Pub Bar Service – less formal, special menu items / smaller plating meal, operations lunch, and supper meal. Limited seating, reservations only. Emphasis is on the socialization of the residents.
- Specialty Coffee Bar – espresso drinks, cold specialty drinks, gourmet desserts and breakfast items, flavored beverages. Emphasis is in socialization of the resident, giving the same “coffee house” feel to the environment.
- Special Events / Monthly socials beyond the meal service. Usually something the resident and guest look forward participating during special holidays, events, etc.
- Gardening – raised gardening beds – the residents grow herbs and flowers using the finished plants in table decorations, ingredients in a favorite recipe used via the Activities department cooking demonstration class.
- On-Line Shopping – UPS and FedEx arrived daily at this location and the amount of Amazon packing was certainly a favorite one of the residents. Many of the residents were shopping using the Amazon App from his or her cell phone.
- On-Line Meal ordering – I observed that during the Covid-19 Pandemic, Uber Eats, Door Dash and Yelp were making deliveries to the front desk for resident’s “grocery” orders, favorite bakeries, and other supplies that the stay at home mandates did not allow for special shopping occasions.
- Socialization is important in a retirement community. The Boomers, especially those retiring after 2011 may not be up to speed in knowledge of “technology”. There may be limitations in understanding how to navigate using the available technology. This is where paring a “Millennial” with a Boomer is a valuable learning experience for both groups.
- Using a POS (point of sale) system that will support advanced ordering , just in time pick up, and accepting other forms of payment as a debit or credit card may increase in total spend revenues as the resident is not totally concerned about spiraling down the “meal plan declining balance” when purchasing other items. The POS system software technology provides the residents in the community access to making hair appointments, ordering food, spa appointments, payment for other outside activities, and tracking location of the resident as a safety measure. Some POS vendor information is attached at the end of this blog.
Using a POS (point of sale) system that will support advanced ordering , just in time pick up, and accepting other forms of payment as a debit or credit card may increase in total spend revenues as the resident is not totally concerned about spiraling down the “meal plan declining balance” when purchasing other items. The POS system software technology provides the residents in the community access to making hair appointments, ordering food, spa appointments, payment for other outside activities, and tracking location of the resident as a safety measure. Some POS vendor information is attached at the end of this blog.
In a recent article in Senior Dining news, (Safe Outdoor Socials for Residents), several facilities across various geographical locations came up with ideas . . . out of the box thinking in promotion of activities while achieving the social distancing …Covid-19 requirements. Moving resident activities outside, under a tent, while gearing the activities to the needs of each location. Some examples included a location in Boulder, Colorado using an outside tent for socialization and activities. A location in Maryland set up a tent, and used it for themed crab feast meal, etc. The purpose is in redesigning a resident space, meeting the restrictions of the social distancing, and getting the residents focused on a positive experience.
According to an AARP (2019), “the nation’s nearly 2,000 CCRC offer different types of housing and care levels. Service comes with a cost, nearly two-thirds of the communities charge an entry fee, the average fee is $329,000 . . . Monthly service fees average $2,000 – $4,000”.
How will you create a memorable experience in your retirement community?
Timothy Becker, MHA
Ruck Shockey Associates Inc.
September 8, 2020
Leadership Principles for Significant Accomplishments
Posted on August 4th, 2020
In the service industry, people in leadership positions are called managers. Titles can range from Regional manager to Unit manager to Assistant manager. Some businesses even assign such managerial titles to specific roles such as Food production manager, Customer service manager or Patient transport manager. These managers are responsible to operate a business unit or a segment of a business. They are also accountable for achieving certain financial and operational objectives. These managers accomplish their pre-assigned goals through the hard work and dedication of their people. These ‘people’ are their most valuable asset.
Today, this asset is being managed by the ‘Managers’. The world of leadership is evolving! The future of leadership is more inclusive, caring, empowering, authentic and rewarding!
Tomorrow, they will be led by the ‘Leaders’ instead of managers! Together they will achieve more, grow more and accomplish more for both the people and the organization! Their work life will be more productive, enjoyable, meaningful and rewarding!
“Leadership is all about people. It is not about organizations. It is not about plans. It is not about strategies. It is all about people motivating people to get the job done. You have to be people centered.” General Colin Powell
Today, if you are in a position to manage a business through your people, you are in a leadership position. You will need to practice great leadership principles to achieve much more than just your goals and objectives. You will need to change your paradigm on how you do your job and interact with people! You will re-think, how you coach, lead and grow! You will learn how to take thoughtful actions and become more of an authentic, caring, inclusive, compassionate and inspirational leader. You will become a great Leader of Tomorrow!
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” John Quincy Adams
Here are my eight (8) essential principles to follow to become an inspirational leader. Make these an inherent part of your mindset and your day to day actions at the workplace:
- Put People First
Your people will provide exceptional service to your customers if they feel valued, well respected and are well trained. They expect their leader to be a great listener, compassionate and sincere. Your people deserve your empathy and appreciation! They also want your support for their on-going personal growth. Such actions on your part will inspire them to follow you and help you achieve pinnacle of successes!
In 1977 I was working for a restaurant company as a manager in the Chicago area. We had a new district manager come on board replacing a very kind and engaged leader. Right from the beginning many of us managers noticed his controlling actions. In his office, behind the desk there was a huge poster on the wall depicting a lion in the jungle with caption – Here, Lion is the King! He crossed out the word Lion and put his name instead. So, the poster read, Here, Joe is the King! He believed it and behaved in the same manner. Within six months three of his top performing managers, including me, left the company. A few months later he got fired! He had put himself First!
- Show Integrity in your Words and Actions
People in your team expect and respect integrity and transparency in your words and actions. This must be an inherent quality and practiced as a habit and not as a job function. Being genuine and trustworthy creates enormous loyalty. People will listen and believe you even when what you say, is not in their best interest. They want to know the facts, the truth and clarity. A leader cannot let them down!
A few years ago, as a senior general manager for support services at a major medical center I had to reprimand an operations supervisor. I met with her in the presence of another female manager. My demeanor was respectful and kind. My words were compassionate and sincere. I presented only the facts as I knew them. After I concluded, I offered to listen to her side. She had tears in her eyes and stated that she had made a mistake and that she was disappointed in herself. I listened with empathy and respect. I comforted her and assured her that she was still the same great supervisor as always and that this episode was behind us. I thanked her for being honest and understanding of the purpose of the meeting!
- Be Self Aware
Successful leaders know their personal values and recognize their strengths as well as their shortcomings. Their values and day to day behaviors are instilled in them through their life experiences. They also know how some of their behaviors may sometimes set a wrong tone for the team. So, they practice self-control and make full efforts to improve and make a better leader of themselves along the way. They also develop a high degree of personal emotional intelligence. This helps them stay grounded and keep mindful of what their role is, as a leader.
In our everyday business and personal life, occasionally we are faced with a situation which may trigger some negative emotional response that may not quite be the response you would give if you can contain your emotions. The successful and emotionally intelligent leaders just walk away from such situations to stay above the fray even though they feel righteous. In the long run they are much better off emotionally and earn respect of people around them.
- Be a Great Listener
People around you want you to talk less and listen more. Leaders with effective communication skills practice ‘seek to understand first before being understood’ habit when interacting with anyone. They know how important it is to the speaker to be heard and understood. Great leaders give other people the freedom to share their ideas and concerns without any fear. They acknowledge what they understood. Being a great listener is a leadership strength that helps other people to speak their mind. It’s not only a habit, it’s a virtue!
Often times people on your team may have ideas or personal matter to share with you or seek advice. They have to have confidence in your ability to listen with empathy and sincere intent to understand what is being said. At the conclusion, thoughtful leaders will verify what was said and what is expected of them. In personal matters, when appropriate they will sympathize and offer any assistance that may be helpful and acceptable. A follow up and follow through meeting is essential to close the matter. This active and compassionate listening skill is admired by all team members and builds trust with the leader and loyalty to the organization.
- Share your Vision, Strategy and Purpose
Successful leaders have a clear vision, noble objectives, detailed plans and specific goals for the organization. They also have a greater ‘purpose’ in mind not just for the organization but also for the personal growth of the team members and the broader community. They aspire to make a positive difference in other people’s lives. They engage and support everyone in their endeavor of personal growth. They will empower others in pursuit of happiness and the inner fulfillment! Leaders of ‘Tomorrow’ will see much greater purpose and take responsibility of their position! They will impact positively in the lives of people around them and those who are impacted by their decisions and actions. They will aim to make lives better for all!
I worked at a major medical center as the director of support services from 2003 to 2008. This was probably the best job in my entire over 40-year career. I admired and respected my leader’s inherent strengths, personal compassion, empathetic listening skills, inspirational qualities and passion for his team’s growth. He was also focused on improving the organization for both the short and long term. He had shared his vision, strategies and plans with the team. We were also clear about the greater purpose and as a team we believed in it.! He would personally lead many projects around the medical center and was very active in making decisions. He had integrity in his words and actions and was always respectful to everyone he met. He was always appreciative of his team’s successes and celebrated with them! To me, he was the ‘leader of the future’. He has received multiple promotions over the years and is now the CEO of the entire health system, one of the largest in the country, including the medical school. He not only succeeded for himself, many of his team members have also grown into higher positions! As a leader he helped make many lives better including mine!
- Make the Organization Better and Build Great Teams
Whether you are leading a department of 100 people, an organization of 1,000 people or a company of 10,000 or more people, it is your primary responsibility to make your organization better. Great leaders make positive things happen and they get significant results. They get to work with diligence, tenacity and full focus! They not only have the ability to be very productive individually, they inspire everyone on their team to do more, produce more and accomplish more for the organization!
They achieve this by balancing both extrinsic and intrinsic values and motivations. They enjoy the recognition, status and financial rewards that come from the success of the organization. They also equally enjoy the inner satisfaction of living a purposeful life and helping make other people’s life better. Some will also take on helping with the community improvements and/or even larger social causes.
They build great teams, where all team members work together to achieve planned organizational goals and objectives. These team members possess positive outlook and are most qualified for their roles. They respect and support each other. The great leaders do not tolerate negativity and they make certain that the team is operating as a cohesive, focused and capable force! Achieving planned results for the organization is the goal and all must work together to get there!
- Be Passionate and Inspirational
One of the intrinsic quality great leaders possess is their passion for what they do. They enjoy making a difference in other people’s life. They enjoy reaching pinnacle of success through hard work and diligence. They love building great teams. They find happiness and fulfillment in leading people to achieve what may have been deemed unreachable previously. They also realize that their habits, behaviors and actions are a great example for the team to follow as an inspiration. Great leaders know that people will follow if they are growing, valued, appreciated and inspired. Being humble and grateful to their people is an inherent quality they have and are always prepared to serve their people’s needs in any way they can.
At a recent assignment as a Consultant for Environmental Services in a major medical center, I came across many great people in our front-line staff. I noticed many great qualities these people had and how diligent they were in their patient care duties and in helping each other and working as a team.
I was so impressed with specifically four people that I spoke with them individually not just to compliment about their work ethics, but also to thank them for being such great people and a valued team member! After my brief one-on-one meeting with them, I noticed that each of them had a great happy smile as if I lit something deep inside them. They were inspired by my sincere and honest thoughts and the recognition of their hard work and their greatness as people!
- Celebrate People and Organizational Successes
Fun loving and grateful leaders cease on every opportunity to thank their teams, show their gratitude and celebrate their successes. They value the positive impact of formally recognizing their team’s advancements. Celebrations can be pre-planned activities as well as some spontaneous fun events. Recognition can be individualized and for a team as a whole. For departments who hold monthly meetings can also recognize individual accomplishments each month. Annual formal events are great way to celebrate and share vision for the future! Be Creative with planning!
Some leaders send hand written thank you or other celebratory notes to a team member’s home. Most leaders also compliment one-on-one for their contributions. The culture has to be that people’s extraordinary efforts and achievements are noticed, appreciated, acknowledged and rewarded.
In the recent Coronavirus pandemic, front-line people in many industries have been so diligent and committed to get the job done for the good of the fellow human being. Some at the risk of their own health. Many corporations have rewarded them with extra bonus pay or increase in their base pay during this pandemic. Such meaningful rewards are truly appreciated by people and inspire them to keep the mission going!
Leaders are people too and they come in different forms with distinctly different styles. Some are natural leaders, and others are trained leaders! Their behaviors are often shaped by their own life experiences. Their successes come from their inherent qualities, intrinsic motivations, practicing of great principles and inspirational behaviors. Here are a few of the behaviors that I have seen them follow that inspire their teams toward achieving significant accomplishments!
How many of these traits can you check off?
- Respect for others
- Passion for what they do
- Greater purpose of being
- Integrity and gratitude
- Being genuine and authentic
- Being trustworthy
- Empowering and developing people
- Supporting others growth
- Building meaningful relationships
- Being compassionate and competitive
- Being empathetic and a great listener
- Having a vision for personal and organizational growth
If you are in a leadership position, no matter how large or small, following these behaviors and eight essential principles noted above can bring your organization greater successes and to your team members great personal growth and satisfaction. It will also motivate other people in your team to want to become a LEADER of Tomorrow! It will be a great inner fulfilment for you to help create more leaders and make many more lives BETTER!
Consultant – Food and Nutrition Services
Ruck Shockey Associates Inc.
August 1, 2020
Leading Change In Healthcare Support Services Management
Posted on May 18th, 2020
Hospitals around the country strive to provide excellent medical care to their patients every day. Their vision, mission and core values are all about patient’s health and well-being! Their strategies and plans are directed towards achieving best possible health outcomes and as a result highest patient satisfaction score. Each department and its staff are committed to enhancing patients’ experience and provide them comfort and care during their stay at the hospital. Patients are the focus and at the heart of everything they do!
Support services departments e.g., Food and nutrition services, Environmental services, Patient transport services and Linen services play an important role in enhancing patients’ experience! Patients can easily relate to the courtesy, compassion and the care demonstrated by the support services staff. They can see and taste the culinary excellence on their meal tray and can smell and enjoy the aroma of a clean and sanitized room. They feel the comfort and care in being transported to and from a lab and enjoy the feel of a clean and fresh linen on their bed! . Patients retain the experience provided by the caring, compassionate and engaged staff throughout their stay at the hospital. Hospital Support services teams rock when they serve their patients with compassion, care, respect and pride!
Many hospitals around the country choose contract management companies to provide these important patient comfort services for a variety of reasons. These may be the promise of cost reductions or patient experience enhancements or both. Another reason may be a lack of expertise within the hospital’s leadership team. In the beginning of such contracts, companies may perform well. However, at some point, when these vendors fail to deliver consistently on presumptive expectations and often with a number of opportunities, the hospital administration decides to let go of these vendors. They want to change the management of these departments from those contract companies back to in-house!
The effort to make this enormous change happen successfully, requires a visionary, thoughtful, focused, disciplined, expert and well-planned approach. It requires an initial human and financial capital to reap long term benefits. It’s a six-phase process: Vision, Strategy, Planning, Preparing, Presenting and Executing. It can be done successfully!
Hospital leadership’s clear vision that is in line with the organization’s Mission and Values is an essential first step. It clarifies the future, sets the direction and it motivates the people who will bring about this monumental change! It provides guidance and rejuvenates energy at every step going forward. Vision mut be strategic and inspirational in quality and specific in future direction. Additionally, an effective vision is created toward a common goal to benefit the employees and patients and supports hospital’s immediate and long terms goals. It must also be Transforming in nature and based on Integrity and Trust!
Developing Strategy is the next logical step towards achieving the Vision laid out by the hospital’s senior leadership. It requires selecting a ‘Project Leadership Team’, developing a budget, establishing a ‘Project Timeline’ and creating reasonable and achievable goals. Senior leadership also sets expectations and commits to stay engaged for support and helping ease the impediments and help remove hurdles as the project moves forward. Bringing on board, an experienced and accomplished consulting firm to lead the project is a top strategic decision that the administration makes. This step adds multi-faceted expertise and highly accomplished team of people that is needed to move the project along in a timely manner. These people work together as a team with the hospital administration to help achieve the vision and desired results. Their expertise, dedication and strategic actions bring the project to a successful and sustainable completion and bring accomplishments and growth going forward!
Detailed and thoughtful planning for the project, from beginning to end, is the first operational and crucial step towards achieving desired outcomes. It takes an experienced ‘thought leader’, a diligent operational expert, and an accomplished organizational planner to work together to create a feasible plan. This plan must align with the hospital leadership’s vision and strategy. Hospital leadership as well Human Resources department may also participate in this phase to not only steer the project team in the right direction but also add value to the planning phase.
This is as much of a managerial task as it is a leadership and visionary work. Plans must be specific in nature and focused on details with key established timelines. Plans will be different for each hospital based on their size, locations and building layouts. Plans will also be different for each service line. The operational experts engaged for each service will obviously be different and assigned specific to their expertise. It is absolutely a ‘Must’ that right people are assigned the right tasks at planning of each service line. As a result, we would have created a ‘Project Team’ that will take this project methodically to the Preparation phase!
The newly created project team arrives on site about three months in advance to begin the Learning and Comprehending process of the existing operations. This team will consist of:
- A Thought Leader
- An Administrator
- A Project Leader
- Several Subject Matter Experts on Training, Logistics, Policies and Program Design
- Several Day to Day Operational Experts
The objective for this entire team is to assess the operational capabilities, existing strengths and weaknesses as well opportunities for improvements in all areas of the department/s. Furthermore, to meet and build working relationship with the hospital staff in these department/s. Also, to learn and understand the details of each position’s work flow. Each area’s expert will be responsible to prepare a weekly report about what they have learned and how it will impact once the contract company leaves. For an example, for a mid-size hospital, food and nutrition services team would include; an Administrator, an Executive Chef, a Clinical Nutrition Manager, a Retail Manager, a Logistics manager and a Production manager. Some of the areas this team will work on are; retail menu, patient’s menus, pricing guide, ordering guide, equipment conditions and future needs, employee schedules, open positions etc.
Preparing for the Go-Live day is always on their minds and they strive to be ready with all details outlined and all bases covered!
It is imperative that the Project team makes an educational and strategy presentation to the key stake holders e.g., department employees, nursing staff and the administrative staff. Information shared should include what is changing, how the change will occur and how it impacts their work or business! Sharing the plan with nursing in their nursing leadership meetings is an effective way to accomplish this and continued with monthly updates.
One of the effective ways to communicate the upcoming change/s to the department staff is, Employees’ Townhalls where the general information about the project is shared and questions answered. This clarifies many uncertainties in their minds and provides them with the hospital leadership’s vision and strategy for this change. There should be enough of these events planned at various times to allow all employees to participate. Often employees give valuable input and suggestions that benefit the staff, the patients and the hospital!
At least two weeks before the Go-Live date all preparation and readiness must be verified by the project leader and the project administrator. This readiness must also be communicated to the hospital leadership in a formal manner. Additionally, more employee meetings should be held to share the final execution plans including any menu or recipe changes, production changes etc. Employees must be reminded that their role in this change is crucial and much appreciated. On the day of the Go-Live all hands-on deck to make sure the transition is smooth. A celebratory event should be held within a few days of management change over and employees’ contributions recognized!
This article is an overview of the phases involved in changing Healthcare Support Services Management from a contract service company to In-House management. Each phase has its own importance and value to build from and to the next phase. The successful transition to In-House management requires clarity and details in plans, expertise and diligence of the project team and the readiness of the all stakeholders to execute on the Go-Live date. The rewards for the successful transition, sustained accomplishments and future growth are well worth the enormous change!
Food and Nutrition Services
May 15, 2020
RSA EVS Team Holiday Inspiration!
Posted on December 19th, 2019
Ruck-Shockey Associate Inc.’ (RSA) Team at Jefferson University Hospital (Center City, Neuro and Methodist) Donate over $1,700 to the Holiday Gift Drive!
MaryKate was rounding in the building right after Thanksgiving and noticed the box and the tree with ‘notes’ attached. She opened one and it read ‘I would like a fun toothbrush for Christmas’ another was ‘wanting a new pair of boots for a father’. The simplest of requests from local children and people in the area surrounding Jefferson in Philadelphia.
She reached out to me and asked how could we help? That started an RSA drive to collect funds and RSA leadership would match whatever the local EVS team collected. The team raised over $800 and 100% participation! With that the team went shopping and as you see the requests that they filled were many and some extras that only Santa knew they needed!
Thank you team for your inspiration and for bringing lots of joy to those in the Philadelphia area!
Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday and a terrific 2020!
Effective Communication Principles – Group Presentation Skills
Posted on December 10th, 2018
Group Presentation Skills
- Prepare and Practice
For many people, speaking to a group is the greatest fear in their lives. Just the thought of facing strangers in the audience makes them nervous and even lose some sleep over it. But this fear is often exaggerated in their minds. To ease this common fear, begin preparing ideas and concept for the presentation in your mind. Conduct proper research that may be required. Once you are comfortable with the thoughts and the information gathered, put it all on paper and create a rough draft. Read several times to edit or make changes where needed. Once the presentation is finalized, practice perfectly several times, either by yourself and/or in front of a few colleagues. At some point during the practice stage, you will surprise yourself with the confidence that you are ready. And yes, you are!
- Prepare, not fear the presentation
- Develop ideas and concept in your mind
- Do the research, build a rough draft, edit and finalize
- Practice perfectly in front of a mirror or a few colleagues for confidence
- Know you Audience
To make an effective presentation, you must be the subject matter expert. You must prepare the presentation with knowing who the people in the audience are. How will they receive the content and what delivery style they will enjoy the most? Do some basic research on the audience, prior to the event to be fully confident in your content and delivery style. The quality and veracity of your presentation must equal to their interest and intellect. It is always a good idea to meet and mingle with the audience before the formal presentation begins. It will put you at ease, alleviate nervousness and make the audience more accepting of your presentation.
- Select a subject that you an expert in
- Learn the audience and their veracity of knowledge
- Practice your delivery style, appropriate to the audience
- Meet and mingle with audience ahead of the presentation
- Speak with Conviction
You have created an exciting presentation, practiced many times and built up the confidence to share your expertise with the audience! Now is the time to show your conviction about what you have to say. People will not only listen to the words but also enjoy your enthusiasm and feel your emotions. Deliver your words clearly and with high and low pitch or volume as appropriate. Monotone voice, low energy and lack of enthusiasm in your sound of voice will be a turn off for the audience. On the other hand, people will enjoy and embrace the conviction in your style, confidence in your words, enthusiasm and emotions in your tone of voice!
- Be confident of your expertise
- Speak with conviction and confidence
- Show your emotions and enthusiasm in your tone of voice
- Connect with audience by coming close to them and by walking around
- Follow the Basics
There are a lot of self-help programs and books for those preparing to give a presentation. Here are a few that we think that will separate you from the “speaking pack”.
- Be sincere in your words
- Be genuine in your emotions
- Be enthusiastic in your style
- Speak plainly and clearly
- Keep good eye contact with entire group
- If on stage avoid being behind the lectern
- When near the audience, walk around and engage
- Get to point often and use high or low pitch
- Be aware of your body language and facial expressions
- If Power Point is being used, write no more than 5 to 7 lines per page
- Offer to take questions at the end of presentation
- Do not take risk of opening with a joke, it may not work
- You may share a brief personal story at the beginning to get audience’s attention
- Close Powerfully
People in the audience are very likely to retain your message during the last two minutes of your presentation than at any other time. Wrapping up with all your key points at the close is the best way to make some memorable moments for the audience. Like the bow on a present, make sure to tie all the ideas, messages and take-aways together so the audience has one package to carry out of your presentation. Be very emphatic, use powerful words and engage with genuine emotions to close your presentation. Thank the people in the audience, the organization who invited you and the team of people who had put the event together. Everyone likes to clap for them and your presentation will end with the loud sound of clapping!
- The last two minutes are very important
- People will remember most of what they heard towards the end
- People want some memorable moments from your presentation
- Close enthusiastically with powerful emphasis on key points and the key message
Communication is an art of sharing thoughts and ideas among people. It is also a medium to send a message to another person or a group of people. Effective interpersonal communication requires certain skills. Some people have this ability naturally and others learn it formally or through life experiences. The basic principles are the same. One must be an active, empathetic, respectful and engaged listener when interacting with others. You must be sincere, authentic and respectful of others. When making a group presentation, one must articulate the message appropriately and sincerely and share with enthusiasm and conviction. The basic and simple principles noted above can help anyone be an effective communicator! They will enjoy the respect, trust and attention of others when practicing these principles!
Consultant – Food and Nutrition Services
Effective Communication Principles – Positive Interpersonal Skills
Posted on November 28th, 2018
Great leaders have many remarkable qualities. One of their most noticeable and admired abilities is the way they communicate so effectively. Whether in person speaking one-on-one, in a small group meeting or making a presentation to a larger audience, they know how to get the message across in a simple and positive manner. They know exactly what to say, how to say it and what the audience needs to retain. They believe, it is their responsibility to articulate the message, convey it in a manner that engages the listener and that the message is received as intended. Some leaders have this ability naturally, while others develop this important skill over time. Anyone can learn and achieve this leadership strength, if they follow some simple and basic principles for improving this skill. In this article, I am going to share some basic, time tested and proven principles in two areas; Positive Interpersonal Skills and Group Presentation Skills. These simple principles if followed can help further improve your communication skills and make you an effective and positive communicator.
Positive Interpersonal Skills
- Be an Active Listener
Positive inter personal communication begins with being an active and empathetic listener. Your eyes, ears and mind must be engaged with the speaker. It takes a sincere effort to fully comprehend what message the speaker is trying to send. You may not fully comprehend if you do not pay full attention. In addition to their words, you must also observe their body language, feel their tone and capture their emotions. Different people communicate differently but they do show their true feelings, along with their words in a noticeable manner. An engaged and active listener comprehends the words, feels the emotion and retains speaker’s intent.
- Pay undivided attention
- Maintain positive facial expressions
- Capture the words, the emotions and the intent
- Be mindful that everyone has a different communication style
- Be Interactive
Any meaningful and positive dialogue requires two or more engaged and empathetic listeners rather than talkers. Instead of preparing your response to the words you hear, you should wait for the speaker to give you an opportunity to respond. It is important to repeat back and clarify what you heard and understood. This will alleviate any ambiguity. While speaking to others, address them by their preferred name. It shows enormous respect. At times, it may require some patience on your part, because the speaker may have a unique communication style or is overwhelmed with stress or emotions.
- Listen more, talk less
- When speaking, address others by their name
- Respect speakers’ unique style and their emotions
- Repeat back to verify what you understood is accurate
- Be Sincere
The act of sincerity in both listening and speaking situations makes any conversation a positive communication. People will notice your engagement style, authenticity and level of sincerity almost immediately. There may be some situations during the conversation where It may become necessary for you to share your true feelings as well. But, do so in a kind, gentle and respectful manner. Be aware of your own facial expressions, hand gestures and other body movements which may be perceived as in-sincere or offensive. A pleasant smile on your face will make the listener comfortable in carrying on the conversation.
- Engage with authenticity
- Have integrity in your words
- Be aware of your own body language
- Share your true feelings in a kind and respectful manner
- Speak Clearly
Skillful interpersonal communication requires that you speak clearly and in a pleasant tone of voice. You should articulate words that are appropriate and easy to understand. Unclear speech shows lack of articulation and risks losing listener’s interest. A monotone voice with no change in pitch or volume shows no emotion and are boring to the listener. Speaking too fast or too slow may irritate the listener and may not hear or understand what you had to say. You should also observe how your words and emotions are being received by the listener. Make appropriate changes in your words, tone, pace and emotions.
- Speak clearly and with a smile
- Speak with a pleasant tone of voice
- Speak at a normal pace and with high and low pitch
- Observe the listener’s responses and make appropriate changes
- Show your Gratitude
People in their day to day business life and even in personal life are often short of time. Sometimes they are low on energy or have a lack of interest in having conversation with you. When people give you time and attention, they are really giving you a gift, out of their life. That amount of time will never comeback for them! It is so important that you thank them for their time in having a conversation with you. Showing your sincerity and gratitude for their time, makes them respect you. If the conversation benefitted you in a material sense, a follow up with a written ‘Thank you’ note may be appropriate.
- People like to be valued
- When they give you time, consider it a gift!
- Show sincerity and gratitude for their time and input
- Pay back with sincere thanks and a follow up note when needed
Consultant – Food and Nutrition Services
Celebrate… like there is a tomorrow! Part 2
Posted on July 16th, 2018
Here are nine ideas for creating a culture of celebrations in hospitality industry where employees feel respected, appreciated and celebrated as part of the organization’s culture.
- New Employees On-boarding Celebration
Very often we celebrate when someone is leaving the organization. Why not celebrate when new employees join the team? At least once a month, plan a formal event to celebrate the arrival of new members of the team. Let everyone welcome them and get to know each other.
- Colleague Milestones and Personal Accomplishments Celebration
Organization should formally acknowledge and celebrate employees’ personal achievements. This may include, completing a certification course, earning a college degree while working and even a close relative’s educational accomplishments. Also celebrate employees’ birthdays and work anniversaries. Such events build a long-term loyalty to the organization.
- New Project Launch Celebration
Every new project or a new product should be launched in an enthusiastic and well celebrated manner. A formal launch celebration event will get the entire team excited. All details of the new venture should be shared and the team who built the project should be acknowledged. Such events create a positive team energy towards achieving desired outcomes.
- Monthly Progress Updates Celebration
Leaders should keep the team updated regularly on the new projects and celebrate the progress being made along the journey to achieving the desired outcomes. A monthly formal celebration event should be planned for these updates. Such events re-charge employees for even greater team efforts going forward.
- Bi-Monthly Operational Achievements Celebration
Employees want to know how well the organization is doing. They want to put forth all efforts for the organization to be successful and achieve desired outcomes. Leaders should keep everyone updated with the state of the organization. Successes should be celebrated and challenges if any, addressed. Such events keep the team moving forward.
- Quarterly Star Performers Celebration
Every team has star performers. Grateful leaders celebrate these employees to show their gratitude in a formal manner. Such celebrations should happen at least quarterly and the entire organization should be invited. This gesture brings a positive energy to the entire team.
- Annual National Recognition Week Celebration
Annual nationally recognized employees’ weeks should be well planned and celebrated throughout the organization. The entire leadership team should appreciate and recognize hard work and dedication of all employees. This week-long celebration re-invigorates the team.
- National and Global Holidays Celebration
National holidays such as Thanksgiving Day, Independence Day as well as holidays recognized from other nationalities should also be celebrated at work. Organizations should integrate cultural celebrations of colleagues as they are celebrated in their native culture. This gesture helps build employees’ loyalty to the organization and a greater bond among team members.
- On-going and On the Spot Celebration
Employees should also be recognized and celebrated on an on-going basis for personal achievements at work such as perfect attendance etc. A formal employee recognition program should also be in place to congratulate employees who receive customer compliments. Such programs motivate employees to go the extra mile for every customer.
In service industry we need more celebrations. Organizations and leaders who celebrate their employees’ contributions and successes often and in a formal manner reap great rewards! They are committed to showing their gratitude to the employees in a meaningful and celebratory manner on an ongoing basis. They know how celebrations positively impact on employees’ morale, energy and dedication. When employees see and feel how well they are appreciated and celebrated, they look forward to going to work every ‘tomorrow’!
Consultant – Food and Nutrition Services
June 26, 2018
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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!
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:
- The nurse who offers to help and talks up the food service department
- The team that created the colorful and attractive Room Service menu
- The Room Service representative who helps each patient with service attitude
- The tray line staff who assemble the tray with care and accuracy
- The team of cooks who prepare fresh and appetizing hot foods
- The team of prep-cooks who prepare fresh and appealing cold foods
- The expediter who verifies the tray presentation and the accuracy of the tray
- The hostess who is polite, courteous and helpful when serving trays
- The dietitian who designs the menu choices in line with the dietary guidelines
- The executive chef who leads the entire culinary team and assures high quality
- The production manager who orders the best possible food supplies
- The dish room staff who follow sanitary standards for cleaning dishes and utensils
- The department director who keeps the Team motivated and inspired
- The hospital administrators who support and appreciate the Team
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 …..
Consultant – Food and Nutrition Services