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
Workplace Excellence – If you Build it they will Excel, Part 2
Posted on April 30th, 2018
6. Resolve issues promptly and consistently
Employees want issues resolved! Practical and active Leaders know how important it is to employees that all work related issues are addressed fairly and promptly. Even if the Leader considers the matter to be minor it should receive appropriate and timely attention. At times, disagreement between two team members can occur. It is Leader’s responsibility to immediately handle the situation and seek Human Resources assistance if needed. Issues if not addressed in a timely manner, will get escalated and may require more time and resources to resolve.
Leaders should work directly with the employees to find resolutions and common ground. Once a matter has been resolved, Leaders must follow up and follow through with the employees to verify that the resolution outcome was to their satisfaction. This Leadership practice builds employees’ faith and trust in their Leader and further improves their working relationship.
7. Have integrity in your words and actions
Employees will be the first to trust you! Leaders with integrity know that they provide moral Leadership with their words and actions every day. When a Leader fails to deliver on their promises or commitments it will let employees down. It can also damage the trust and working relationship. Here are some basic and simple rules to follow to avoid such failures:
- Promise less, deliver more, when possible
- Keep commitments simple and do-able
- Create a ‘Win/Win’ situation when possible
- Be aware of and avoid micro-inequities
- Be loyal to your team and aware of their needs
- Deliver bad news with empathy and compassion
- Dignify employees’ genuine disappointment
- Before saying anything, make certain that
- It is true
- It is kind
- It is necessary
- Apologize sincerely when needed
At times a Leader will make an honest mistake or a human error that impacts employees adversely in some fashion. When this happens, a genuine Leader must be forthright, take responsibility, apologize and correct the situation. This Leadership practice will not only teach them a lesson but also build even stronger trust and bond with the employees.
8. Hold self and team accountable
Employees expect team and Leadership accountability! Accomplished and thoughtful Leaders practice self-accountability before they hold their team accountable. In a culture of workplace excellence, employees put forth full effort every day. They are focused and committed to serving their patients above and beyond expectations. Nothing will slow them down until they sense a lack of consistent accountability of every team member.
All employees and Leaders must follow the same set of rules and standards. When one team member fails to comply, standard counseling process needs to be followed. Most employees will respond to a fair and constructive approach. A written and formal developmental plan may also be needed. When Leaders hold themselves accountable in a meaningful manner, it creates a powerful and inspirational environment for the employees. This habit of self-accountability can motivate employees to feel great about their Leader and be genuinely inspired.
9. Celebrate successes
Employees love to celebrate successes! Fun loving and grateful Leaders cease on every opportunity to thank their teams, show their gratitude and celebrate their successes! They know the positive impact of formally recognizing their team’s achievements. Celebrations should be both in forms of pre-planned activities and some spontaneous fun events. Here are a few suggestions:
- Annual departmental national recognition weeks
- Let employees participate in planning such events
- Hospital leadership should also be invited to thank the team
- Recognition of star performances in monthly department meetings
- A program where employees nominate fellow team members for recognition
- Ongoing celebration for employees who receive patients’ compliments
- Department wide monthly employees’ birthday’s event
- Any other creative events highlighting team’s high performance
- Foods and giveaways are always appreciated in all celebration events
Workplace excellence culture is possible in any organization where a Leader is committed, compassionate, respectful and grateful to employees for their contributions. The Leader must be visionary, an effective communicator and one who values employees’ dedication and ongoing support! Ideas listed above can help Leaders in creating a great workplace culture.
A culture where the employees Excel at what they do and will deliver EXCEPTIONAL service, achieve the HIGHEST patient satisfaction scores and even greater personal job satisfaction!
Consultant – Food and Nutrition Services
April 18, 2018
Workplace Excellence – If you Build it they will Excel, Part 1
Posted on April 23rd, 2018
In service industry people serve other people. In healthcare support services, people not only serve other people they also provide comfort, care, a helping hand and a safe environment! Whether they are serving patients with their meal, cleaning their room, transporting them from their hospital room to the lab and back, they are serving people! These people are also their patients! These patients in a hospital are likely under the best possible medical care of the hospital’s very caring medical staff. They are also in the hands of the most compassionate and comforting support services employees. These employees are carefully recruited because of their service attitude, pleasant manners and inherent people skills. They are also very well trained. And when they Excel at what they do, their patients will see it, feel it and share their experience with everyone they know!
To Excel at providing exceptional service to their patients the employees must first experience respect, compassion, sincerity, appreciation and feel valued by their department Leader. They expect their Leader to provide a clear vision, clarify expectations, listen to the employees and engage with them regularly. They want all work-related issues resolved promptly and fairly. They also expect their Leader to follow up and follow through on their words in a timely manner! These are the behaviors they love to experience from their Leader at their workplace. This is what makes the employees Excel at what they do!
It takes a visionary, dedicated, committed, engaged and supportive Leader to build a great workplace culture. This Leader puts employees first in almost all situations and is always available to serve them. They know and practice servant Leadership behaviors and always show their gratitude to the employees. Next are the first five of nine Leadership skills and behaviors when practiced diligently, sincerely and consistently can help tremendously towards building a great Workplace Excellence culture!
- Share your vision
Employees look up to their Leaders! Successful Leaders understand it very well! They share their personal vision, objectives, plans and specific department goals with their teams in both formal and informal manner. Most effective way to communicate this is in the department’s monthly employee meetings and then continuously promoting in their daily interactions.
These Leaders ask for employees’ commitment and support towards achieving their goals and objectives. The employees will eagerly and diligently get involved and put forth full effort in supporting and achieving the desired outcomes! A Leader must also provide regular updates on the progress being made and any challenges that come up. This Leadership practice is essential for continuous employees’ focus, drive, support and enthusiasm!
- Paint a clear picture and clarify expectations
Employees want to know what is expected of them! Organized and disciplined Leaders know that ambiguity kills employees’ drive and enthusiasm. The clearer the direction, the better the results. Most employees will go to tremendous lengths to reach the pinnacle if they know, that is what the Leader needs. They may even design their own path to achieve results if a clear picture has been painted towards the end in mind. They want to be fully on board with the ‘plan’ and get to work.
To accomplish any great task or achieve highly desired results from any project large or small a Leader’s effective communication skills play a major and crucial role. They keep directions simple, organized and in an easy to follow manner. They verify that employees understand their expectations and if needed clarify any confusions. This Leadership skill is essential for achieving high employee output and their personal job satisfaction!
- Make employees feel welcomed and appreciated
Employees should look forward to their day at work! Compassionate and engaged Leaders know that employees enjoy being welcomed to their workplace. It takes a sincere greeting, with pleasant smile and polite eye contact to welcome each employee at the beginning of their day. Newly hired employees should be introduced to the entire team by the department Leader personally. This one simple Leadership behavior shows enormous respect and a great welcoming gesture to the new team member.
While employees appreciate an instant and sincere ‘Thank you’ gesture by the Leader, they also like and enjoy a formal reward and recognition program. Such program must be simple, fun, ongoing and easy to follow. Employees’ individual and team’s collective accomplishments should be highlighted in department meetings and on the hospital’s website. An occasional hand-written note also provides a great emotional bank account deposit for the employee. Monthly giveaways in prizes and some other redeemable cash value awards are always appreciated. These Leadership behaviors re-charge employees’ energy and enthusiasm!
- Treat employees fairly and with respect
Employees can sense micro-inequities! Fair-minded and sincere Leaders are aware of their everyday behavioral style when interacting with employees. They also know that each employee is unique and have certain special talent as well as what each employees’ strengths and opportunities for growth are. They sense that employees are not necessarily looking for ‘equal’ treatment but an equitable, just and fair treatment.
With such awareness these Leaders purposefully and inherently show respect and kindness to each employee. They also encourage employees to speak with them if any one feels that they have somehow been ignored or slighted in any fashion. Such open-door communication is very effective towards building mutual trust between the two. This Leadership practice builds a long-standing mutual respect and an ongoing employees’ commitment and dedication!
- Listen with empathy and compassion
Employees want you to talk less and listen more! Leaders with effective and empathetic communication skills practice ‘seek to understand first before being understood’ habit when interacting with employees. They know how important it is for the employees to have the freedom to share their ideas and concerns with their Leader. They also let the employees vent their frustrations and speak candidly about anything on their mind. Employees know that the Leader will listen with empathy and respond with compassion.
Whether the conversation is work related or of a confidential and personal nature, the Leader will listen patiently to gather all the details and take notes if necessary. They verify what the employee said and what they understood. When appropriate they will sympathize and offer to help. If needed, the Leader will commit to a follow up action or conversation. This active and compassionate listening skill is admired by all employees and strengthens their commitment and loyalty to the Leader and the department.
Consultant – Food and Nutrition Services
April 18, 2018
The Luckiest Rebuke
Posted on April 17th, 2018
In every leader’s journey there come moments which are transformative. Seldom are these moments planned or part of an official educational process, they tend to come when least expected and most often from sources not anticipated. Frequently this moment comes as a true surprise and if not recognized may go past, unnoticed and lost forever.
Six years, or so ago, I was engaged in a process for a very large corporate entity with a focus on a renovation, retail food offering and general facelift of the retail area of a mid-sized community hospital. As part of the process, I had scheduled a meeting with the CEO as he was very engaged in all things that represented the face of his organization and had an affect on the associate experience.
I had been through the process with nearly two dozen facilities and felt like I had the presentation dialed. I was grooving, on cruise control, making my pitch for why it was so important to make the suggested changes, on our dime, mind you. Having progressed beyond the what and the why, I rolled smoothly, so I felt, into the most powerful part of the presentation. My wheel house, my hook, the point at which I laid out our plan for how we would engage the teams to modify what had been the “way it was” done FOREVER.
“Here is the key to the success of the process. We will take the opportunity to show our associates, your associates, the key to great food is not exclusive of good nutrition. When we involve them in the process of menu development, sales evaluation, local food scene implementation and recipe modifications we are given the opportunity to bring them along the path to “BUYING-IN” to…”.
“STOP! I do not want to hear any more about BUY-IN, enough!” interjected the normally soft-spoken CEO. The cold chill started at the top of my head and poured through my body, in a flash, leaving me in a flushed and near panicked ball of nerves and sweating palms. A thousand thoughts, a thousand doubts, a rewind of the last words spoken, and then sweet rescue.
“Let me clarify”. He said softly, kindly, obviously noting my discomfort. “I have a serious disdain for the concept of buy-in. If, in fact, you succeed in getting anyone to buy-in to your process you have convinced them, maybe coerced them, as a salesman might, to your way of thought. What we want, in our facility, is to BUILD-IN our teams and processes. When someone assists in building something, a fence, a house or, in this case, a culture they will protect it with a fierce determination. They will defend and continuously support, making all efforts to insure it does not fail and fall. THAT will be our method, together”.
I have never forgotten and have, since that day, built processes and teams with build-in as the foundation, and yes, those teams have, to the individual, defended, supported and built success. This seemingly small, semantical interjection would have been missed, the musing of a slightly overbearing autocrat, this transcendental, seminal moment to develop a quality of LEADERSHIP, real leadership, but I heard it for what it was. This one significant transcendent moment, which stays with me to this day, and for that moment of cold impactful rebuke I am grateful and earnestly focused to live up to the standard he built-in, me.
James Standridge, Consultant RSA
Employee Satisfaction begins with the Leader: Growth Opportunities
Posted on April 9th, 2018
Employees want to grow! Well most if not all. It is Leader’s responsibility to know and learn who wants to grow and in what fashion. Some would want to learn other duties and other areas in the department. Others may want to stay in their current area but would like to learn more and perhaps go for additional education or certification. Some may want to go for the next position up. Here is how this should work:
- Leader should ask the employees in their annual reviews of their vision of growth
- Offer candid and sincere advice and/or encouragement
- Give their recommendations for next steps
- Offer reasonable assistance and mentoring where possible
- Seek Human Resources assistance when needed
- Document all conversations or related events
Service Excellence Culture is possible in any organization where the Leader is committed, compassionate and capable of envisioning and delivering on basic and simple strategies outlined above! Putting employees first in hospitality industry is not a new concept. Making it happen takes a lot of effort and dedication by the Leader. Rewards for the organization in return are enormous! The patients or customers who experience EXCEPTIONAL service from your staff will let you and others know, usually in a very big manner! That makes it so worthwhile.
Consultant – Food and Nutrition Services
February 9, 2018
Employee Satisfaction begins with the Leader: Rewards and Recognition
Posted on March 19th, 2018
Rewards and Recognition
Employees want to be appreciated! While employees appreciate an instant and sincere ‘Thank you’ gesture by the Leader they also like and enjoy a formal reward and recognition program. Even though many organization including most hospitals have organization/companywide programs but employees prefer a department level program as well. Such programs should have characteristics of both material and emotional rewards and recognition. Such program should have following components:
- Be simple, fun, ongoing and easy to follow
- Should include a handing of a Card or a Star for instant gratification
- Cards or Stars should have some redeemable value within the department
- The awardees should also be recognized in front of their peers or customers
- Program should also include some monthly gifts giveaways – drawings etc.
- Be part of a quarterly and an annual celebration in the department
- Should include an occasional hand written thank you note in the mail
Consultant – Food and Nutrition Services
February 28, 2018
Employee Satisfaction begins with the Leader: Employee Involvement
Posted on March 12th, 2018
Employees have ideas! They want to make a positive difference and further improve the way they work. They want to accomplish more, be more efficient and productive. Leader must listen and get employees involved in both formal and informal fashions. They know their customers, their product and their commitment to excellence so the Leader must pay attention and respect employees’ input. The most effective ways to get employees involved are:
- By monthly rounding with a few employees in a formal manner
- Responding to their ideas in a formal manner within a reasonable time
- When planning a major change or introducing a new concept
- Before making any changes to an existing process or product
- Invite some employees in brainstorming on problem resolutions
- By challenging them for further creativity and innovation in the department
- Keeping the door open for one on one meetings to listen to their thoughts
Consultant – Food and Nutrition Services
February 28, 2018
Employee Satisfaction begins with the Leader: Tools and Training
Posted on March 5th, 2018
Tools and Training
Employees want to do a great job! A Leader must begin with this premise. They cannot perform at their best if they do not have the tools they need or the tools they work with do not cooperate. The department must also have a clearly defined training program. An initial formal training period of three to five days, for their position is essential. Ongoing monthly training and refresher sessions for each position must also be conducted. Leader should conduct monthly rounding with the employees to make sure that they are satisfied with their tools, training and the environment. Leader should take actions when the employees’ needs have changed. A Leader cannot lose an employee’s dedication, energy, positive mindset and vigor by not providing them what they need to perform at their best!
Consultant – Food and Nutrition Services
February 28, 2018
Employee Satisfaction begins with the Leader: Compensation
Posted on February 28th, 2018
Employees want to be paid well! In today’s economy, compensation matters more than some organizations believe. We are in a service economy more so than perhaps ever before. There is competition out there for most desirable service level employees. To attract great employees the compensation must be above the market place threshold. This is a challenge that the department directors face every day and must find a way to convince higher ups to update the pay scales. The benefits package offered, may attract some but most candidates who meet the service excellence criteria want higher base pay than the marketplace.
Consultant – Food and Nutrition Services
February 28, 2018
Employee Satisfaction begins with the Leader
Posted on February 14th, 2018
Satisfied and inspired employees in service industry who are genuinely respected, treated with compassion, well compensated, properly trained, involved in decision making processes and are recognized and rewarded for their outstanding work are the heart of a successful organization. They will do everything possible to inherently provide EXCEPTIONAL service to their customers. They love what they do and are proud of it. It’s called Service Excellence CULTURE!
The end-users may be patients in a hospital being served with their meals or their rooms being cleaned, retail cafeteria customers or any other service industry customers. These satisfied and inspired employees will support each other, be very productive and excel at their tasks. They follow the standards, go above and beyond their duties, immensely enjoy their day at work and make the department run smooth and efficient. These are Happy and Engaged employees!
It takes a dedicated and committed Leader who creates an employee focused culture and places employees first in almost all situations! To build a service excellence culture, the following six strategies and employee engagement practices can help tremendously! See the first of six below. Check back to our site for the reveal of the other five over the next few weeks.
The right people for the right jobs! Recruiting or hiring the very best people for any job in the organization is the foundation of a great service excellence culture. It starts with the position posting. The first sentence of the job requirement must state clearly about the service excellence culture and the importance of their individual role in enhancing it. In live interview it must be re-emphasized that if hired they are expected to make a positive difference in the prevailing culture of the organization or the department.
Hiring for technical skills is important but not as significant as a candidate’s personal presentation skills such as personal grooming, greeting, eye contact, politeness and a natural smile. During the interview process if they are paying attention to their personal details, they are likely to pay attention to service excellence details while at work. Technical skills can be improved by further training, once the candidate is on-board.
Many organizations utilize a pre-designed interview format with specific questions. No matter what format is utilized for the basic interview questions the Leader must also look for the following three qualities by simply asking some probing questions:
- Integrity – in their answers
- Intelligence – in their thinking
- Interactive skills – and their body language
What you see and feel is likely what your patients or customers will experience behind your back. This is also what the other employees in the department will encounter when the candidate is hired. Some organizations also conduct peer interviews which can be beneficial from a team building standpoint. But the Leader must make the final decision!
Consultant – Food and Nutrition Services
February 9, 2018
Posted on September 29th, 2017
Industry leaders, Georgie Shockey and Sharon Cox, MA, RDN, LDN are presenting Monday October 23 at FNCE 2017 in Chicago, IL. They will share their experience in managing complex transitions with insightful guidelines, new tools and ideas to make a transition successful….
“Change is inevitable; progress is optional”. The four-step Transition Learning Model (TLM) plan, provides leaders with a guide to navigating the chaos associated with change. While change is external, the transition plan is internal and unique to you. As a leader, effective strategy formulation skills are essential-and necessary amid change. The ability to translate business strategies from plan to action can set true leaders apart from their peers. The session will bring the plan to life and show the audience the value of careful planning, assessing the risk of transitions and case studies where the plan has taken organizations to the next level.
The four stages of the transition touches on three elements: Talent, Process and Systems. Learn how to integrate these steps and elements into your next transition.
Sharon and Georgie will also take you through what is impacted by each type of change…. And how to mitigate the risk as you are managing the transition.
Preview the session here: http://eatrightfnce.org/program/educational-sessions/ and download our presentation preview here: FNCE 2017 Presentation
Dealing With A Decreasing Global Food Supply In An Increasing Industry
Posted on August 3rd, 2017
There are strong narratives regarding the global food chain. While many are exaggerated and frightening, there is still plenty of truth and validity to the vast majority. With an increasing population, the global food supply will experience changes, but not necessarily solely due to increased amount of people.
With an increased population, changing diets are rather the primary driver relating to food demand. As wealth increases in many regions, food demand is changing towards diets consuming larger amounts of meat and fresh produce options. While we are experiencing a change in food demand, it is the demand of specific products rather than physical quantities of foods. With increasing demand of meats and fresh produce, population growth certainly impacts these numbers, but it is primarily the popular diets that are creating the influx of demand.
It is also important to recognize that the food and beverage industry increases along the demand curve. As demand increases, more food and beverage operations open to the public. As an industry, it is important we promote the food and nutrition that will nourish and sustain our food supply. Creating more meatless options, focusing on classic grains, and sourcing local to minimize travel (and damage) on crops is vital towards the success of the industry.
In addition, food waste is a major problem associated with the food and beverage industry. About 40% of food is wasted annually. This waste amounts to roughly $650 billion in the United States and even $310 billion in developing countries. It is clear that food waste is an issue, but the amount of money going to waste as well is far too drastic to ignore. In an industry where profit is the primary goal, preventing food waste will save your company money as well as benefit the industry and the earth. It is time for companies to create sustainable goals towards the success of their business, the industry, and the planet.
Unlocking The Door To Customer Service With Key Strategies
Posted on July 12th, 2017
The goal of customer service is to build strong relationships with your customers while providing exceptional experiences that develop loyal guests. Customer service is often overlooked by the product or service itself, however it is important to realize that customer service is vital towards the success of a company and ensuring retained customers and guests. Regardless of how great your product of service is, what customers remember most is the interaction they experienced with your company.
When considering key strategies to enhance your level of customer service, it is important that your team is equipped with the right skills for the job. The value of empathy needs to be implemented as a core value throughout all strategic developments. The power to empathize allows your associates to understand and share feelings towards your customers. When aiming to provide personalized experiences to allow customers to feel an emotional connection to your brand, empathy is the secret ingredient.
When it comes to customer service, it is important to empower your employees. You must empower your employees with the right tools to excel in the presence of customers. Foster open communication and expectations with associates to guarantee they are prepared throughout their time face-to-face with customers. With clearly defined roles and responsibilities, your associates will feel empowered and equipped to excel in the presence of your guests.
Another important aspect of quality customer service is the customer’s perception of constancy and reliability. Customers should always feel confident they would receive the quality customer service your company promises and promotes. Consistency is vital to a successful company due to the dependability and reliability it provides your customers. Costumers will always prioritize one company over another due to the comfort and predictability provided through their services. For example, many customers continue to purchase Apple© products because they are familiar and dependable on those devices. They are confident in the exact product they will get and how it will treat them. Customer service is very similar to this. Customers will gravitate towards companies where they can be familiar with their quality customer service, confident they will be treated exceptionally, and that the end result is something they can rely on.
Lastly, follow-up and follow-through are components to customer service that are often overlooked. While first impressions are certainly important, a company’s last impression with customer service can create the largest impact. The last impression leaves the final taste in peoples mouths and can either be sweet or sour. In order to ensure a sweet ending, companies need to imbed customer service techniques that exceed customer expectations and create lasting memories. Especially in such a vast business industry, the strongest marketing is word of mouth. With a strong lasting impression, customers are inevitably going to be spreading the word about their great experience with your company’s exceptional customer service accolades.
Increased Employee Engagement Leads To Increased Company Success
Posted on June 29th, 2017
Studies show that less than a third of American workers are engaged in their job. Employee engagement helps develop strong positive attitudes among associates towards their work and the overall success of the company. Employee engagement can be defined as the emotional connection an employee exhibits towards their company, which influences their behavior and effort in work related activities. Most importantly, the more engagement an employee has with their company, the more energy and effort they put into their work. Engagement can be categorized into the trust and transparency through communication between management and associates, opportunities for growth and development within the organization, employee recognition towards impacting company performance, and the overall ability for an employee to perceive themselves are an asset to the organization.
Factors such as untrustworthy management, organizational tumult, lack of cohesion among associates, as well as poor organizational structure will impede successful engagement among employees. Many companies assume that higher pay and increased benefits will increase employee engagement. However, while that will increase employee satisfaction, a company cannot simply purchase employee engagement.
In order to successfully engage employees, companies need to show them how much they care. Paying more attention to associates through deliberate and thoughtful actions and decisions will increase engagement. Involving associates in decisions and maintaining transparency among management and employees is vital to successful engagement. There is no scripted formula to a successful engagement program and it must be strategized and orchestrated towards what suites your specific company culture. When discussing strategy, the most important aspect is to ensure engagement is developed through shared common goals and making decisions that are geared towards ensuring employees feel valued and emotionally connected to their work.
When developing an employee engagement strategy, there are specific steps that should be taken towards creating a successful plan. First, it is important to guarantee your associates have all of the right tools to succeed. Employees are stressed out and become distraught when they do not have the right tools to excel in their job. In a stressful work environment, associates are less likely to be engaged. Second, employees need more attention than you may think. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming, but simple gestures that induce personal attention customized to each associate show how much you care and value your employees independently, not just as a group. In addition to personal attention, personal recognition and praise is another valuable strategy towards increasing employee engagement. Finally, developing a social work environment, possibly with a philanthropic foundation, can create positive engagement around the workplace. When employees develop an emotional connection to the workplace as well as their colleagues, they become more engaged and content in their jobs.
It is important to understand that a company’s most important assets are the associates that work for them. Without an engaged work force, a company will cease to grow successfully. It is important to develop a strategy for your company that can increase and encourage employee engagement, which will reflect positively on bottom-line results.
Training and Retaining Quality Associates: The importance of training in the workplace
Posted on June 23rd, 2017
Training provides an opportunity to expand the knowledge of associates, however many companies find it to be too expensive. While the cost of training and development opportunities come at a price, if it is done right, it will save your company money in the end.
It is far too common that training is perceived as a one-time program. While the initial orientation and training processes are vital towards the success of an associate’s performance, there should never be an ending point to expanding knowledge. Extended education programs should be implemented throughout an associate’s career with the company. Especially in such a rapidly changing industry, there are constantly new improvements and training opportunities to increase the proficiencies of your associates. Extended education programs can be implemented in a multitude of ways. From quarterly information sessions with associates on the clock, to take-home education packets, there are endless opportunities to be creative in orchestrating the best form of extended education and training for your company.
Many companies are hesitant to implement extended training and development programs due to the expenses associated with it. However, it is important to recognize how training impacts retention. Many companies experience high turnover with associates due to a lack of development opportunities or inadequate training that prevents them from performing at their best. Spending more on a successful training and development program will decrease turnover and increase retention. What costs companies money is the process of having to search and hire for associates followed by training expenses. With a successful training and development plan, your company will spend less time searching for new associates and you can begin spending your time and energy building success among the associates you already have.
Overall, training and development are very important and will lead to increased company success. With proper training, associates are better able to perform their jobs, which increases overall company performance. In addition, another important attribute to a company’s success is consistency. With proper training and extended education programs, associates will always be on the same page and informed with all-important information up-to-date. The investment for training and development also proves as a way for the company to exhibit how much they value their associates. Associates who feel appreciated and challenged through training and development will be fulfilled with increased satisfaction.
The Impact Of Design On The Bottom-Line
Posted on June 14th, 2017
When developing food and beverage concepts, the impact of design is important because it enhances the perception of value. The value equation is simply the customers expectation subtracted from their actual experience. There are subliminal detractors and enhancers that lead to the sum of the value equation, many of which are derived from the designed environment.
In regards to subliminal comfort factors associated with the designed food and beverage environment, there are three distinctive components that are commonly associated with value perception. All of these factors are impacting the customer experience, often times, without them even realizing it. It is important to acknowledge these three categories when developing the built environment of your food and beverage operation.
The temperature and lighting are vital to the comfort of the guest in your dining or food service outlet. Lighting is a great indicator of perceived value as many people associate dim and intimate lighting with more upscale dining experiences, whereas florescent and bright lighting is perceived as casual and lower-scale. Neither of which are bad, but the lighting should reflect your specific style of service. The temperature is vital to the comfort of the guests dining experience. The dining room should never be too cold or too hot, as it will impact the guest’s level of comfort while consuming your cuisine. Another important aspect of temperature is proper and efficient ventilation. The air vents should never be directly flowing onto your guests. Many dining outlets will put vents directly above tables, which is poor circulation as well as provides inconsistent temperatures across the dining room.
The colors and tactile surfaces should derive from the concept of the cuisine and style of service. Depending on the food service concept, colors and tactile surfaces differ in importance. It is often recommended that the colors compliment the cuisine and service rather than distract from the restaurant itself. Décor and other art collections around the room can add to the ambiance, but should never be too much of a distraction from the culinary experience. When considering tactile surfaces, it is important to think about appearance and productivity. For example, in a busy restaurant with high turnover, carpeted floors might not always be the best fit for your concept considering the increased difficulty to clean and sweep under and around the tables. In addition, it is important to consider whether your concept would benefit from linen tablecloths, or rather to invest in nicer tables to be used without linen.
Aromas and scents are very important to the foodservice experience. The aroma of a restaurant or dining outlet can entice or scare customers. It is important to have scents and aromas fill up your food service outlet to increase cravings as well as perceived value. There are many companies that have signature scents that allow customers to transcend through their great memories associated with those aromas. A great example is the white tea scent associated with all Westin Hotels. This aroma can be found throughout every Westin Hotel property and provides an identity to this specific hotel brand. Guests of the Westin associate comfort and relaxation with the scent of white tea as that is the value Westin Hotels provides to their guests. Having your restaurant or food service outlet identified by a scent of wood fired pizzas is never a bad problem to have!
In addition to the subliminal comfort factors, there are many dining room layout features that impact the satisfaction of your guests. It is important to recognize that the average U.S. citizen desires a personal space of 24 inches. When designing a floor plan, it is imperative to consider table spacing and physical furniture fixtures. Another aspect to consider is the comfort in being anchored. Anchoring your table’s means to have walls, dividers, booths, and physical structures to anchor the tables to. Diners prefer to have something anchoring their table, rather than being in an open dining room.
While there will always be common dilemmas to face when designing the built environment of a food service outlet, it is important to consider a multitude of factors. With the help of design specialists, your dilemmas will be solved and executed to ensure an increased bottom-line. While these subliminal factors may be perceived as irrelevant at first, the impact of design is a lot more important than you may think towards the success of your company.
Ruck-Shockey’s NRA Show Highlights – Day 2
Posted on May 24th, 2017
Ruck-Shockey fortunately attended the National Restaurant Association Signature’17 lecture series. We had the opportunity to hear both Dan Park, General Manager of the Commercial Sector at Amazon Business and Jason Dorsey, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer at The Center of Generational Kinetics, hosted by Dawn Sweeney, President and CEO of the NRA. This series was titled “Staying Ahead of The Crave”, discussing how Amazon revolutionized the way we shop and how that may do the same within foodservice as well as a discussion on what millennials truly crave and their relationship to the industries success.
Dan Park began the discussion on how Amazon Business is redefining the restaurant and foodservice industry with their new business focused features. Amazon Business attempts to integrate everything into one dashboard, such as ordering, purchasing, inventory tracking, and more. Many of the features discussed are shown in this figure.
This new style of ordering adds convenience and ease, which is what Amazon data analytics have tracked as trending statistics. In an industry (and world) with increased technological advances, the idea of convenience is becoming an expectation. Many companies will select options or systems that allow for simplified operating efficiencies and that is what Amazon Business aims to do.
Next, Jason Dorsey took the stage with high-level energy and much to say. Jason specializes as a generation’s speaker, using data analytics to track and define trends throughout generations. The goal of his lecture was to inform the industry of “the crave” when it comes to Millennials and Gen Z. Jason solves touch generational challenges for organizations and leaders. The diversity of his clients and research has allowed him to uncover trends, bring truth to many myths and perceived notions, allowing people to stay ahead of the curve.
Immediately, Jason expressed that Millennials are not actually as bad as their reputation makes them out to be. Using data analytics Jason has discovered that in fact, Millennials are not poor and lazy, but rather they are the largest generation making up the workforce as well as the generation spending the most money in our economy today. Another misconceived perception regarding millennial is that they act as if they are entitled. An interesting fact Jason brought up is that behavioral instincts are obtained, not something a person is born with. He attributes Millennial entitlement to they way they were raised, making it at fault for the Baby Boomer generation.
With a surplus of data and information, Jason’s primary message is regarding the importance of generational change and how perception isn’t always reality. As industry leaders it is important to utilize data to make decisions towards success. In addition, we need to be positively influencing and supporting younger generations, especially considering they are the future of our industry.