FOHcus: Well-Connected

What is it about the foodservice industry that seems to drain the life out of its employees? With so many opportunities and outlets for career advancement and creative expression, its unfortunate that so many of our colleagues are either completely disenchanted or approaching burnout. What's even more surprising is that many of them are young, and barely a year or two into their careers.

What’s going on here? A failure to inspire, perhaps?

I have my own theory: I think that people suffer tremendously when they're unable to make the connection between what they love and how they get paid. I see it all the time; people who can't seem to integrate passion into their workplace. This translates into forced enthusiasm and disingenuous service. You won’t last long in this industry if you have to reach so deep to find that part of yourself that communicates joy.

I recently created a poll on Linkedin that asked people to vote on what matters most when sizing up a food server. The results were overwhelming.

It's all about Attitude.

Here’s an idea: Ask your staff (or your coworkers) to make a list of all their passions, pursuits, hobbies, interests, etc. and put that list up where everyone can see it. Now, challenge one another to find opportunities for these to be expressed within the restaurant. Whether its photography, web design, acting, music, social networking, videography, or writing, we have to find ways to infuse those passions into the workplace, or we risk losing the very thing that sustains and drives this industry.

Why: If you can't identify with your workplace, you are more than likely not going to be able to project the levels of enthusiasm that are necessary for success in this industry. You will be dragging yourself around like so many of the bored, lifeless, close-to-walking-out-on-their-shift employees that shuffle about our industry's dining rooms.

If this sounds flaky or too West Coast for you, spend a few minutes reading the workplace manifestos of Fortunes 100 Best Places To Work. They put an incredible amount of effort into nurturing their employee's sense of what? Yes. You guessed it: a connection between work and personal passion.

Now, imagine if FohBoh could be an online community where we all come for quick attitude adjustments. For some of us, it already is. We need to create a movement, people.

Michael Biesemeyer
Manager of Online Communities
FohBoh, Inc.

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  • This are things that I dont know and find hard to understand, hourly workers, which get paid mostly with tips  this is your biggest problem, govenament interfirance is your second problem,

    1, There should be a minimum wage, in accordance with all minmum wages,not $2.50 or $7.00 per hour, it is what the general wotkers earns per week, hourly workers sounds like casual workers, they are intiteled to the hourly minimum plus sick and holyday pay.

    2, tips are eatned, this will make a waiter work to the best of his/hers capacity, not compulsary tipping, to me this is extortion of the diners,  the price on the menu already includes service, tips must be earned by th exess service, (new subjecr) because of  this I have stated before, the governamemt should not interfere with public gifts to individuals, nor managment and propietors.

    I have little respect for people who blow their own horns, I am exlent? I am a professional? I do a great job, etc, unless other people say that about anther individual, you are not good, you have a great imagination, and you always rant, I started as a waiter, and what upgraded me, was not me, it was the general public. Giuseppe 

  • I find foodservice staff and management a mixed bag of abilities and commitment. Many are planning on just passing through. Those that are career minded are from a variety of backgrounds and levels of professionalism. There is no standardization of industry training or credentialing. Different from careers requiring a certification or license the variety is huge. What does this mean as far as satisfaction? Even the most well intended employees and managers can get burned out trying to succeed and exceed when surrounded by unqualified, uncommitted and incapable people.
    I am not saying that most are in this category but only time sorts these individuals out. Much of my consulting involves teaching and facilitating communication and setting shared visions and goals. In the 40 years I've worked within the food and beverage industry the leaders I've seen with long term vision, the ability to build teams and to facilitate communication are few. Often times it is not due to lack of desire but due to understaffing - when a supervisor must make a decision to meet the immediate needs of a guest verses spending their limited time on staff development. It is a no-win situation if a company does not invest in the future with training and development of staff and when they are budgeting short-term. The acid test is asking employees what their purpose is as an employee. If not instilled daily as a vision the answers with be diverse and diffused.
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