(VIDEO VERSION OF ARTICLE AT BOTTOM)
Restaurant kitchens are one of the most challenging environments to work in – it’s hot, it’s unpredictable and it’s blue collar labor. It’s easy to get super stressed out and lose it – I used to at least once a shift. The problem is that it’s not productive or healthy – for the person stressed, nor the people around them.

Here are 5 Keys
(Leave a comment If you have Additions):

1. Lead by Example
Whether you’re at the top of the totem pole or at the bottom, the energy you put out affects the people around you, and as a result the entire organization. I had to grow up and realize that slamming oven doors and cussing, even under my breath, were destructive. Those types of behaviors keep employees from feeling safe and comfortable.

2. Sufficient Labor
Too many restaurants have their kitchens spread thin, really think and the entire organization suffers – employees don’t get enough off days and what happens when someone has a family emergency or has an important family event to go to? Depth keeps the guys and girls slugging it out in the trenches some breathing room and it keeps them from getting burnt out. Burn out leads to stress.

Cross-training is key for these situations as well…. If you’re best grill girl hasn’t been taught any other stations, she’s nowhere near as versatile as she could be. When you cross-train, you have a bunch for flex employees that you can shuffle around when needed.

3. Systems

Any restaurant will go down in flames without a good set of systems – it’s only a matter of time. If you have a system for stocking the walk-in (which you should), it makes it a lot easier to find whatever it is you need. If the power goes out, do you have a system or procedure to put in place the moment it happens? Systems allow for less on the spot judgement calls and takes on the mentality of ‘When THAT happens, THIS is what we do’.

4. Music
I know every restaurant is different, but my thoughts are this: music is great for prep and great for breaking down and cleaning up. I’m not a fan of music during service – unless everyone can agree on a genre and volume. The problem is that the kitchen is already loud, there is already enough moving parts

5. Kitchen Culture
Restaurants live and die by the culture they create. Do employees feel safe? Do they enjoy coming to work? Do they enjoy working with each other? Do they feel empowered to help with the menu and specials? Do they respect each other?

If you answer yes to these questions, chances are you have a culture that is thriving, and a thriving culture minimizes stress, because when one individual gets hit with a heavy load of tickets, someone will jump in and help – and it will happen like that across the board. Imagine a kitchen being every man for themselves- talk about stressful – no thanks.

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