Top Ten Best Practices from the World of Professional Hospitality

I’m happy to introduce a guest post by Jamie.

For nearly ten years, during college and immediately after graduating with a Bachelor’s in Hospitality Management, I worked my tail off in food service, managing institutional settings, catering departments and retail operations. I loved “my kids” (the college-age associates on my shifts), the meticulously trained chefs, fabulously creative bakers and the endlessly varying challenges woven into every day.

What I learned in those years reshaped my mind and still impacts how I live. I’d like to share with you the top ten best practices I picked up in the world of hospitality – I hope they bless you as they have me!

Hire for attitude train for skill. The smartest, most talented people in the world can bring you incessant grief if they have a bad attitude. Choose who you spend time with carefully.

Don’t avoid confrontation. The best managers don’t avoid confrontation, they manage it. Calmly, professionally and with an eye to appropriate times and places they tackle the sticky stuff head on before it evolve into a long, drawn-out dramatic mess. I can’t say I’ve mastered this skill, but I continually work at it because once you’ve got it you’re golden!

Start with compassion and respect. No matter what situation you find yourself in, start your interactions with compassion and respect for the other person. It will save you a lot of embarrassment and cleanup.

Learn from the best. Apprentice yourself to the best role models you can find in any area you want to grow in. Soak up their wisdom like a sponge and take their correction gracefully.

Take it to the freezer. It is a standing practice among food service managers to take their fits and fury to the walk-in freezer. It’s thick insulation makes it a safe place to rant, curse or otherwise vent frustrations. We don’t all have freezers, but we can scrawl our thoughts out in journals or head for the gym. Dump your frustrations out somewhere safe, take a deep breath and move on; don’t vent them at other people lest they multiply or circle back to you in painful ways.

Expect the best, prep for the worst. This is self explanatory, but it’s difficult to overstate the positive impact of living by this rule.

The world is smaller than you think, so tread carefully. Life can be capricious, so guard your tongue (and your Facebook page!) and if you part ways with someone try to do so on the best terms possible.

Everyone should take a business course. Most people have shockingly little awareness of their rights or the resources available to them as employees or consumers. If you have the opportunity, take a beginner’s business or business law course so that you can better advocate for yourself and your family.

Presentation counts. You don’t have to have expensive clothes or a fastidiously kept home, but how you present yourself has a big impact on how others respond to you in any situation.

Knowing what you’re eating. People don’t know nearly as much about their food as they think they do (and significantly less than they should). This is both my pet peeve and my personal passion, fueled by questions you wouldn’t believe that I’ve been asked by people who were completely serious.

    Does your bacon have swine flu?  

    Spaghetti is a vegetable, right?

    Don’t 2% milk and half & half come from different kinds of cows?

If it weren’t so sad, it’d be funny… so if you take nothing else from this list, please know this: Spaghetti is not a vegetable, bacon cannot have swine flu and working in food service will warp your brain. Forever. :0)

Jamie is a former hospitality manager turned happy housewife. Passionate about food, good books and the art of homemaking, she spends her days trying to keep up with her handsome Air Force husband and one spoiled border collie.

Photo Credit: Karl-Erik Bennion

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  1. Laura says:

    What a great post. There is so much here that we can use even in our own homes. (especially the “take it to the freezer” which, I seriously need to learn).

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