The Cancer of Exaggeration
Feb 18, 2013 | 7:31 pm
As a Food Mercenary occasionally I find myself in need of waging war.
Many years back I began to make efforts to snuff out the cancer of exaggeration amongst my staff and management. Way too many times the simple comment goes unnoticed because of repetition and I guess to a degree a general indifference. Initially, I corrected any individual making a gross exaggeration when communicating. Common place example: A server returns to the kitchen with an entree claiming it is freezing cold and the customer cannot eat it as a result. We all know it is not frozen. But what just happened? The server insulted the entire kitchen staff and any fellow servers involved with bringing the meal to the table, management, ownership, and completely ruined their credibility with the staff. Now they are unhappy and ready to drop a hot spoon in the server's apron to send a message!:)
Or, the cook claims they have been waiting all day for a server to pick up their table. The restaurant has been open an hour, this cannot be the case.
I would literally force the staff to eat the words, any of them including managers & owners. I then had them then explain what they really needed or what was actually in need of fixing. Regardless how busy they claimed to be. After going a few rounds with a few of the hard core exaggerators everyone eventually fell in line, and, after being put in a position of realizing how much exaggeration really does distract everyone from producing efficiently, they killed it off themselves. All of the sections of the restaurant staff benefited with better communication. Servers would now ask for an entree to be heated a bit more, Cooks would ask that tables leave sooner to prevent back-ups in the pickup area. Way less tension was the result.
It was not easy. The first few times I was met with an obstinate attitude by some. But, having certain influences affecting me directly like growing up (still debated by my family members to this day) a South Sider in Chicago, quality drugs during my formative years, a rock & roll heritage & several concussions on the freestyle tour the staff soon found I was waaaay more obstinate than they were! Some viewed what I was doing as unnecessary. But each time I stayed calm and clear, "Tell me what you really need and it will be done, do not exaggerate to me". When the message finally sunk in, the end result was supreme confidence for both front & back of the house staffing with each other. It was a bit difficult, but well worth it.