Football coaches such as Vince Lombardi become legends by bringing their team to be top winners over and over again. At the beginning of training season he would traditionally hold up a pigskin and say, “Gentlemen, this is a football” in front of the rookies and seasoned players as well. He was a man who followed up his speech with rigid drills and stressed the value of practice. He stood behind his speech with action and favorable results.
Senior care communities can benefit from following the proven habits of Vince Lombardi, minus the football. Kind Dining® offers the training that can make your company a top winning community when your food servers, newbies, part-timers, and veterans alike, are taught the standards of service with hospitality at its heart. Once they become knowledgeable about proper serving techniques, the benefits of teamwork, the rewards of good manners, and they practice, practice, practice, they will appreciate the training that has made their jobs in the dining room easier and joyful.
When mealtime service seems effortless and runs smoothly without errors or accidents, you know your team has learned their lessons well. As your food servers take working as a team in their stride they will demonstrate positive attitudes and build confidence. Teammates help each other. When one food server develops a problem; another takes her part. When this happens a tighter bond is created and service flows.
Vince Lombardi became the legend, still remembered and referred to 50 years later because his Green Bay Packers team won five National Football League Championships and two Super Bowls. His skills are still admired and repeated by other coaches. Residents value hospitality through high standards of service at mealtime. Your community dining room can achieve a top notch designation and reap the benefits for your residents and wait staff by applying his values.
Our B♥ Kind® Tip: Remember that improvement is an ongoing process.
Linda’s mother Anna moved from her retirement community after living there for only a year. “I never really felt at home there.” She said. “This new community that Linda found made me feel like they were truly happy to have me here. I’m greeted in the dining room with a smile, a how-are-you-settling-in-so-far? The food servers recognized my being new, right from the beginning, making me feel like they noticed I was there and they cared. The hostess seated me at a table of singles who welcomed me as a friend! I fit right in and was no longer a stranger after the first day. Funny, I never did feel like I belonged in the community that I left.”
Anna remarked that sharing mealtimes with like-minded people who had lively discussions was important to her. It was a time of day she enjoyed when raising a family and she missed that after her husband passed away. She also noticed the camaraderie of the food servers with each other and with the other residents creating a family-like situation. “It was like wrapping myself in my grandmother’s quilt, warm and comfortable. I feel like I am starting a whole new life.”
Personalizing service in the dining room builds trust and respect between the food servers and the residents. If a problem came up with any of the residents the food servers would notice right away because they were attuned to that relationship. Anna noticed immediately that her quality of daily life had improved immensely when she chose to change her residence. She also commented on how the ambiance in the dining room was meaningful to her and it was the spark that began her enjoyment in her new residence.
The food servers were quick to learn in their training session how new techniques in their service would benefit all, including themselves. Kind Dining® has a core belief that teaching people to become life-long learners is elemental to a successful community. The basics of good manners and social skills are the foundation of good service. To quote Lady Mary W. Montague, “Civility costs nothing, and buys everything.”
Our B♥ Kind® Tip: Practice showing extra courtesy in the dining room today.
A friend told me about Claire, a college student who was hired as a food server in a nearby assisted living community for the summer months. She said she had worked with serving food when she was hired but it wasn’t very long before her nervousness caused her to spill a bowl of soup in the dining room during a busy lunch time. Claire was horrified! She needed this job and was committed to the work. She confessed that her service was in an ice cream shop with no training such as was necessary in a community dining room. Her short time on the job showed her to be punctual, clean, neat, busy, and pleasant with the residents and other staff. Certainly she was worthy of some training time.
Mary, one of the other food servers told her to stay after her shift and she would give her some insights. Claire was grateful, became one of the best part-time workers returning each summer and worked all the holiday seasons between college terms. Her experience with Mary created a bond where she could be called to come in to cover for last minute situations. Claire was such a natural at her work that she switched her goal of teaching to a Nutritional Science degree with an aim of working in the field of Gerontology.
Since Mary received good training, she showed empathy and had the confidence to share her knowledge to help Claire out instead of feeling superior. She ultimately became a major influence in her life. They not only worked together but became life-long friends. Just as important, Claire became a team player that could be depended on and was well-liked by the senior residents for her youthful cheerfulness. Claire found a career path she loved and a staff member exhibited the result of good training and a positive attitude. Mary demonstrated the company’s values. Kind Dining® teaches how a company’s values communicate clear direction and shapes the behavior of their food servers and their staff.
Our B♥ Kind® Tip: Close gaps with your coworkers to create good working relationships and foster teamwork. .
A friend’s mother-in-law, Minnie, decided on retirement living a year after her husband passed away. On her first visit to the dining room she spotted one of those don’t even think about sitting here looks from a snooty looking woman where one chair was vacant at her table. Minnie was not upset or perplexed at all. She had been employed at a particular university for years and recognized the gesture of hierarchy that she had often seen there. She moved on to a completely empty table and allowed others to join her, the new woman in the dining room.
One of the food servers had noticed the interaction while she was servicing a table. She came directly to Minnie to apologize for the poor behavior shown to her on her first time in the dining room. A second server joined them. “Thanks,” she said to her coworker. “I saw that, too but couldn’t get here sooner, either. I also apologize. Please don’t judge all our residents by the rude one. And welcome. We are happy to see you in our community.”
While Minnie was a self-confident woman she appreciated the alertness of the food servers, their thoughtfulness in extending a welcome to her, and the hospitality she received from them. To her, it showed the community was committed to a person-oriented policy. She was reassured that she had chosen the right community for her as she began to rebuild a new life for herself.
She later stopped in to the office and spoke to the Vice-President complimenting him on the reaction of his food servers. He thanked her and promised that he would pass the compliment on to those who earned it, letting all the servers know how much their consideration is appreciated. He rather glowed knowing how good training paid for itself.
Kind Dining® training for your staff will reaffirm employees of the company values and how it shapes their behavior. The strong, complex working relationship between food servers will reflect their expertise in social skills and etiquette. It is the food servers who create the ambiance of the dining room, extending a welcome to make a resident feel as comfortable as being at home. That is exactly what the community dining room is to its residents . . . home.
Our B♥ Kind® Tip: Stop. Look. Listen. Know the complexity of good food service.