Rumor has it that Henry Ford would read a candidate over lunch to determine if they were suitable for the job. If the person salted their food before tasting it, he would discount them immediately. He believed the habit divulged the individual to be a weak decision maker and would not gauge a situation before taking action.
When interviewing a prospect for a management position in food service, it makes good sense to see them in the environment they will be working and guiding the foodservice team. After the first round of interviews, invite your candidate to lunch (off sight) to converse with them in a relaxed, neutral atmosphere. This will reveal their skills or lack of abilities that will affect your decision whether this particular person will be the long-term asset you want for your company. Notice if the applicant arrived before you or at least on time, how long it takes them to decide from the menu, what price range they ordered from? These items reveal much about the interpersonal skills necessary for desired management.
It is wise to wait until your food and drink orders have been taken before beginning questions. This will lessen interruptions from the server at times when you are most intent. Offer a problem and ask their opinion on how they would resolve it. Does the applicant listen to you while you talk or attempt to give you their view before asking for it? Noticing how the candidate relates to the person serving them exposes their respect or lack of it. This indicates how they will interact with the food serving team they will be working with. Interpersonal skills are vital in a management position. Kind Dining♥ training stresses those skills for all staff serving meals, including management. Do you detect that the candidate will be proficient at building relationships with the team? Encourage improvements of personal growth? Understand how hospitality is partnered with healthcare? Continuing education for individual goals? These are essential basics to know and indicate a bonding of teamwork. The attention paid to these factors will ensure you hire a person who respects your company, your food serving team, your residents, and your community.
You want a person who will love coming to work every day but has the ability to solve problems gracefully, satisfying all involved when those problems arise. Using these guidelines will reassure you that your instinct at the first interview was a solid one to follow up.
B♥ Kind ®Tip: Plan and prepare ahead.
April was having a conversation via a computer Messenger with a friend who called her for advice about how to choose a senior living community. She now lived in a different state so she couldn’t move to April’s community.
“Do you remember when I was in the hospital before you moved to your daughter’s?”
“Sure do. You were complaining about the food before you could barely sit up. I remember it well and laughed at it, not realizing how serious you were.”
“Sam. His name just popped into my head! That was the man who brought my meals every day. He made me laugh even while I complained. Sam saved the day! I looked forward to seeing him come in. He also gave me some hints on which foods to definitely avoid that were listed on the menu. I wonder if he still works there or has taken his super service to someplace that appreciates him. I’ll have to check with Barbara. She’s still a nurse there.”
“I’m amazed that you remember him and his name, too!”
“I can only tell you that he was the highlight of mealtime, not the food. I mention this because that is what you want to do. When you tour the senior living communities, ask residents about the food and the service. It is the most important part of the day, every day!”
It’s true! Mealtimes are still the most important part of every day for your residents. When Kind Dining♥ training programs are part of your food servers’ lives, your community is more likely to keep the same familiar faces your residents like to see. A server gains confidence from what they learn in the training sessions. This gives them the confidence of good performance on their part. Add contentment from their competitive salary and they will carry an assurance in the community. When you have a reliable employee and one that you will not need to waste time finding a replacement and begin training again. Everyone wins you have the right food serving team. Residents are happier with seeing a familiar face and knowing they can rely on their service. Recent labor shortages have made it even more difficult to find the right person to work in your community. If you have a good serving team, you want them to be content in all matters that concern them, including the salary earned.
Recent polls reveal that most senior living communities spend less than two weeks training new employees. A food serving team gains its confidence when they know what their responsibilities are and that they are doing their job with peak performance. To expect good performance it is imperative to provide the best tools-good training and enough of it. Two weeks is not enough time to learn all the multiple skills and details necessary to achieve efficiency in your food servers’ work when you set high standards for your community.
It takes even longer when long-term employees are attempting to acquire different ways to improve the work they have been doing inadequately. After they have accepted new applications into their work habits, a food server may realize that their work has become easier and more efficient. That is the point in retraining and eliminating old habits which no longer work.
Working in a senior living community not only means the many skills you need to know on a daily basis but incorporating hospitality into the service. Unlike some other foodservice positions, the service in the community varies daily. It’s vital to be at your top form, to know what is expected of you and these are taught in Kind Dining♥ training sessions. It is a challenge that keeps your work interesting and keeps the residents you serve delighted to see you. It is common sense for the company to invest in their employees by presenting good tools (training) to make their work better and results better. It is foolish to waste time and money on seeking new employees because the present employees have been ignored. Good service is the result of good and reinforcing training. It is also the responsibility of the company and for its best interest, to attend to satisfactory wages. The pandemic has bitten into the labor market and you want food servers who are competent, quick to learn in training, reliable, and faithful to the community. Being selective at the hiring stage also keeps from wasting company finances. You want your employees to be content with their job, not checking with other senior living communities for one that will respect them by offering them higher wages.
Feeling confident, knowing you have built good relationships with the residents you serve, the waitstaff you work alongside, and that you are appreciated in all that you do, creates a food server who loves to come to work every day. That is who you want as part of your community workforce.
B♥ Kind ®Tip: Practice your Kind Dining skills every day; they will soon come naturally!
Martha sat on a bench in the park sharing an impromptu picnic lunch on Sunday afternoon with her friend Kathryn. She was bubbling over with excitement stumbling to find the right words after she told Kathryn that she had important news to share when she just let them tumble out.
“I’ve been chosen as Employee of the Month!” she said. “I’m not bragging, just surprised and could hardly hold it in and not tell you on the telephone!” Martha has worked as a food server at an assisted living community for 9 years. “It’s a new program,” she continued, “and this is the first month! It was announced at our monthly employee meeting and the committee chair explained how it works. They presented me with a beautiful gift basket that held a gift card for Target for $50! Plus a fancy box of chocolates, nuts, cookies, and other specialty foods items. There was also a card signed by many of the people I serve on a daily basis.”
“Congratulations! Knowing you as I do, I’m sure you earned every bit of the applause you received.” Kathryn said.
“Thank you. There was applause from everyone in our monthly discussion meeting. I’m not used to the spotlight, was a little embarrassed by the attention but very pleased. A Certificate of Achievement was handed to me and my picture was taken to hang on the Event Announcement Wall in the lobby. Next month I’ll be on the committee to choose the new recipient. I feel giddy with the good wishes from my coworkers. I care what they think. You know, I just go along trying to do the best at my job, think about the people I bring meals to and how difficult it is for them sometimes. I never think about whether anyone notices or not. I love what I do and have fun with the residents, especially the elders. They are always so happy to see me. The last year has been tough on them.”
Kind Dining♥ training encourages sincere praise of employees that have an uplifted, positive attitude and does their best to give individual attention to each person served. Food servers build confidence when they know they are appreciated for extending kindly care and particular attention to residents. They are in touch several times a day with residents and make an impact that is vital to the company, too. Surveys have revealed appreciation makes a deeper impression than the amount of money the employee earns. Healthy working relationships between staff and coworkers and between employees and residents don’t just happen. With Kind Dining♥ training sessions (available online now) your food serving team can learn how to build a team where everyone is a winner including the community and the company. The team includes each person who serves food or a beverage, only once in a while, every day, or only on rare occasions. It is still teamwork and everyone likes to be appreciated for the work they do!
B♥ Kind ®Tip: If you see a coworker having a tough day, ask if you can help.