Chef – Are YOU a bloody good TEAM?

Chef at desk_Team work

By Martin Probst, Learning & Development Whiz at Leading Chef Academy

For most of us in Hospitality, we are approaching the busiest time of the year. As Executive Chef, I am sure you starting to ask yourself right now:

“How can I get peak performance from my team throughout the crazy season, smash the aggressive budget and at the same time hold on to my staff, without loosing them in the process”?

What I want to share with you in this blog is a proven strategy I used in the past to achieve exactly that. This easy yet powerful strategy will help you to turn your employees into the greatest asset ever.

First things first:  You must clearly communicate with your kitchen brigade what you and the business is expecting from them. Be honest and upfront to avoid surprises along the way. Too often employees are kept in the dark. If you (the leader) does not communicate effectively what the company wants to achieve, how can the employees work towards it? Instead they will feel uncertain, which in fact damages the team as everybody naturally wants to protect their own interest. Often it is not the hard work employees are afraid of, it is the uncertainty of not knowing what will happen tomorrow, next week, the following month or even next financial year.

So, communication is key! – Stay tuned for more insights on this particular topic in one of the next blogs.

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Once your kitchen brigade is clear on what is expected of them, begin to create a strong team that is there for each other and therefore can exceed their targets. You can do this by implementing the 5 pillars of a 5 star team environment, which are:

  • Certainty
  • Variety
  • A sense of achievement
  • A sense of belonging
  • An environment where each individual kitchen employees can grow and contribute within a team


A fundamental survival instinct, something we all strive for. The certainty that:

  • Each employee is looked after
  • S/he still has a job next month / year
  • Safe environment (OHS)
  • Remuneration to support the family


Our lives must be in perfect balance and therefore also requires an aspect of variety.

“The spice of life” is in direct proportion to the amount of certainty we can comfortable live with. To keep the employment interesting, give employees the opportunity to:

  • Get involved in the ordering, menu planing, etc.
  • Swap tasks or shifts
  • Personal development and/or further education
  • Being considered for internal promotions

Sense of achievement

Feeling special and appreciated gives us the drive to build and achieve:

  • Praise excellent team performances
  • Share financial achievements and KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators)
  • Refere customer satisfaction
  • Support the team in the process

The sense of achievement is another reason why employees need to know what is expected of them. Furthermore, you (the leader) need to keep them in the loop for other benchmarks and when targets are achieved!

Sense of belonging

This is the ultimate survival instinct at the core of every human being. People will go to great lengths to “belong”, specially in our industry with those working hours. In today’s isolated world, employees increasingly rely on businesses to feel the sense of belonging, which can be fulfilled with:

  • Team activities and events
  • Team building workshops
  • Team recognition and awards
  • “De-briefing” after service with some refreshements

Growth and Contribution

Humans are programed to evolve and contribute. We are either growing or dying. Anything we want to remain in our lives (employment, money, happiness etc.) must be nurtured, developed, and expanded, or else it will deteriorate. In order to maintain what you have, you have to keep growing it.

  • Emotional problems and sources of pain disappear when focusing on serving beyond ourselves
  • Contribution of energy (work, time, money, etc.) to team, customers, employer, work colleagues and the society
  • Extension of ourselves into the society is an essential part of personal development and fulfillment
  • Help others grow (e.g: mentoring) to create a “ripple effect” and paying forward

“You’re either green and growing or ripe and rotting.” – Ray Kroc

Please implement these 5 Pillars in your commercial kitchen, and you will see the transformation of your staff. You will create a culture where employees become independent workers who perform interdependently within their team
 that can achieve and even exceed your aggressive targets.

The magic lies in your team, your personal & professional development and your leadership style.


Gaining Trust and Respect Get the Foundation right 3D coverGaining Trust and Respect Plan Ahead 3D cover

If you like to get the full insights on this topic and how you are
from you brigade as well as you managers,
then click here.



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By Martin Probst

In a nutshell, Martin Probst is the Managing Director of LEADING CHEF ACADEMY. He is not interested in teaching you how to suck eggs and is convinced that you are a top banana if it comes to your cooking ability. His mission is to add to your existing kitchen experience a blend of innovative LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT, EMPLOYEE MANAGEMENT & ORGANISATIONAL EFFECTIVENESS skills, so you can taste the success you deserve for all the hard work you put into your career over the years. His vision is to connect modern chefs around the globe and take them to the next level with our online education & training solutions.

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