One day an instructor called me, very excited, about a community where she had been conducting Kind Dining® training sessions.“The Licensed Nurse Aides (LNAs) have been serving meals in the dining room and came to me to ask permission to buy decorative baskets for the tables. Naturally I happily said, This is your dining room, please do it!”
She sees that the concepts of Kind Dining® teaching servers to accept ownership is transforming behavior and positive thought about their service. Servers taking initiative to make the changes are an outward expression of pride in what they do. I know instinctively that these servers are looking forward to their workday. The residents will receive the extra benefit of being served by employees who care enough to buy pretty baskets to brighten their table and their mealtimes.
When employees enjoy and honor their work they tend to take fewer days off for a simple headache. Because they have invested their ideas in their workplace, they are less likely to quit, saving the company a loss of time and money on training someone new. Best of all, a happy worker influences her co-workers positively without even realizing it. Knowing the success of the community is based mostly on their contribution allows them to grow and blossom.
Teaching good manners and social skills used daily so it becomes second nature will enhance the servers who didn’t have those experiences in their own youth. It is important, basic practice in every dining room. Setting higher standards is a positive move forward. Embrace it! The service you give during mealtimes influences the reputation of the community. It is part of passing along a positive review of their home community so their friends will consider moving in, too.
Engaging a resident in pleasant conversation enhances their day and overflows onto other staff. It’s contagious! Sharing a story delights everyone who listens in and helps people to talk to each other even if they have never met before. Residents know when serving staff enjoy their work. It shows! Servers carry a powerful position. They matter because they care!
Our B♥ Kind® Tip: Remember, servers are the face of the organization and have the power to make or break mealtime.
A Kind Dining® instructor called to tell me of an incident showing a big result from one of her Kind Dining® training sessions. One of the servers donned an apron just to see what reaction she would get. Surprisingly a resident told her she looked like Kind Dining® and that she liked the look of it. Others agreed with her. Even more surprising was the reaction of the other serving staff. They wanted to join in and wear aprons, too.
A few new aprons were bought and the laundering was arranged. Aprons were discussed at the next Kind Dining® committee meeting with everyone in agreement about the positive resident and staff reaction. A few servers wanted to wear their own aprons, especially during holiday seasons, so we agreed on that, too. The fun was spreading without any policy or procedure involved. Relationships were forming between staff members and also with the residents. Relationships matter.
This instructor, who happens to be the Administrator, keeps the pile of suggestions the staff brings to her. She is delighted with their enthusiasm. A few are taking the empowerment to the hilt and others are catching onto the ideas. She was not telling them what to do, but encouraging and supporting their ideas.
This is a perfect example of a strong culture change in the community. Employees are happier when they are encouraged to be part of building the community daily process. It gives them ownership of their working lives and a sense of belonging to the community. Through these challenges insight and growth emerge allowing servers to reach their full potential. It dissolves the negative thinking that servers are waitresses.
Embracing the ideas of staff tells them that you are listening and respect their efforts to make mealtimes a better experience for the residents. It gives the residents a chance to join in the fun simply by acknowledging the addition of aprons added with residents in mind, especially when holiday themed aprons can be so joyful. Implement the best suggestions quickly to keep the eagerness flowing, making it clear that their opinions matter. That it matters because they came to work today and show they care. Praise, support, and reward your servers changing roles and growing responsibilities in the dining environment.
A friend told me that without revealing her professional interest, she’s asked friends of friends that live in a retirement community what made them choose a particular place for the expected final home of their lifetime? They invariably made an overall comment about the pretty and neatness of a place just before they raved about the dining room. It was a visit to the dining room either invited by a friend or recommended by someone in a friend’s family that brought them to the community they eventually chose.
The feeling of being welcomed into a fresh, clean, neat dining room by pleasant servers who seemed to be naturally skilled in serving correctly made great and lasting impressions. These are the results of Kind Dining® training, whether teaching skills to newly hired servers, or correcting the careless habits of servers who have never been taught how to do it right.
The goal is not to achieve a formal, hotel dining atmosphere but one of a gracious home where friends gather around the warmth of a table to enjoy life. Sharing a meal in the dining room became a way of meeting and forming new friendships. Creating this ambiance can be achieved by the staff understanding the process and becoming aware of the proper way first, followed by the practice of their newly learned skills.
Customer service standards for the dining environment must be in place with the management emphasis on the importance of these standards becoming a daily habit for all servers. Kind Dining® leads the way for necessary adjustments and solutions in the workplace that also benefits the employees by creating confidence and pride in their adjusted responsibilities. Enthusiasm for additional skills learned, is contagious, encouraging management and staff to become part of the teamwork that makes a great community. That is how you attract new customers. Embracing what is within becomes luminous.
Our B♥ Kind® Tip: Remember, the service you give has the power to build community.
My friend’s brother opened a small lunch only bistro in a small town back in the 90s. The ambiance was warmth with black and white tiled floor and checkered tablecloths. Toulouse Lautrec hung on the walls. His wait staff was welcoming in French apron over black pants and white shirt-style dress, with full knowledge of each day’s menu and dish ingredients. Their attitudes were pleasantly friendly. His advertising budget was small and he would depend more on word-of-mouth than any other way. How was he going to attract people to come in and try his home cooked foods?
Knowing the next town south of him had been settled by Eastern Europeans in the early twentieth century and generations of those families still remained there, he borrowed a recipe from a friend for cabbage soup. When he featured it the following week his bistro filled up with ladies who grew up on cabbage soup, holding high standards about it. They came to check out his cooking skills and came back each week to taste his other offerings. He was in!
There are many similarities between retirement communities but the dining room is the place that makes a community stand out above the rest. That is what Kind Dining® does; it teaches the intricacies of training your servers to stand out with their attitudes, knowledge, and service. It’s easy to think that all who apply to work in your community know how to treat people with friendly respect, serve meals properly, and to excel at customer care. People are not raised with the training necessary to be an award-winning community. Developing the personal and professional skills is what will change habits that are insufficient and damaging to the reputation of your community. Commit developing your serving staff’s skills to ensure all residents receive the same level of service in your dining room. Raise service standards and quality that will attract customers to you over the competition.
Our B♥ Kind® Tip: Setting higher standards in dining is a positive change; embrace it!
Last week I ran into an old friend that I had not seen in a long time. After exchanging the polite pleasantries, we decided to have coffee and really catch up. Soon we fell into conversation about our work. She’s been a high school teacher and guidance counselor for at least 20 years. “There has been a major change in what I advise my kids,” she said. “It used to be to go after the big bucks. Now it’s, find what you love to do and follow that path.”
I replied, “I was fortunate to start my career early in doing what I love and continue today. I believe happiness comes from a deep seeded feeling of joy, of satisfaction in being appreciated for the difference you make in your work, and in the lives of people around you. Teaching people to become life-long learners is an element of Kind Dining®. It’s what I do.”
It was great to run into my friend and very satisfying to be able to talk about the choice I made for my life work.
Recently, there have been surveys and studies on people in the work-place. Results prove that happy employees produce more, regardless of what their job is and create a joyful atmosphere that spreads, making a better place for everyone to work. Happiness is a contagious emotion that is good for any company and brings remarkable results in senior living communities. A server’s disposition affects not only her co-workers but every resident she meets each day. It can turn a resident’s day from feeling sad to being happy that they chose your community to live in.
Employees happy with the work they do are healthier, come to work every day without taking needless, unnecessary days off for doctor’s appointments or because they have a headache. Unscheduled days off are costly and disruptive. Happy servers remain in the community, growing along with the changes that take place and knowing that they improve their status with each new challenge accomplished. They tend to love learning something new about the job they do and the results it brings. Kind Dining® teaches about learning.
Our B♥ Kind® Tip: Setting higher standards in your dining room is a positive change; embrace it!