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  • Brian

    Conflict Mediation

    One of the biggest issues we have in modern catering is what to do when conflict occurs within the pressures of a busy kitchen.

    These issues are very often the result of either the internal “self-drive” of the chef or chefs involved and, or the external pressures of time, standards and fatigue, and very often all these combine to create that “perfect storm”,

    Sadly, these days many young and inexperienced managers who have not proceeded through the ranks of Hospitality do not know how to deflect these situations in order to carry on with the day’s work and inevitably end up losing a chef, either for that day or even permanently.

    Without doubt the answer lies within the hands of the unit manager or Head Chef to be experienced and strong to be able to control and motivate their employees.

    Recruitment and selection play such a big part also. Many Head chefs and managers concentrate on the practical side of an applicant but few seek to know the inner person they are interviewing.  Few ask for their views on bullying and discrimination or their attitudes to women in kitchens, yet much of the future conflict can be avoided by more careful selection of candidates.

    If we focus more on the merits of the person and not solely on their cooking ability then we should be able to see the potential for conflict at that stage.  Personal references and careful scrutiny of candidates at this stage avoid the potential for conflict. Kitchen conflicts are often about personalities, with experience and careful man management these occasions need be rare.As new Chefs are so often interviewed by the Head Chef or Manager, they are rarely introduced to the team or brigade for their reactions, yet the team itself should have a major say in who they bring into their workplace environment, should they not?

    This is a “people” business, yet our ability at times to understand and develop our senses about the people who we employ and work with can be quite shocking. When conflict occurs, we should question ourselves in asking could we, as Managers, chefs and colleagues have done more to avoid that incident, were we as much to blame?.

    The National Chefs Union works tirelessly with many employers to educate our colleagues that the great majority of conflicts are solvable and that they often move forward through development and motivational leadership.

    We must understand that nobody wishes these conflicts to occur and that there is normally a reason behind such incidents, we just need the will and experience to seek those reasons and prevent them from happening in the first place.

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