Thursday, April 14, 2011

Food For Thought - Spring Cleaning - Your Fridge. Or Your Staff.

Open your fridge door. See things that make you say "What IS the expiration date on that?"

Every fridge and/or kitchen cupboard can use a good once-over occasionally ...... consider it a Spring Cleaning Ritual. Don't start what you can't finish. You might need to be honest. Heck, maybe even ruthless at times, to get the job done right. Like other things - you might be attached to the memory rather than the item - did you buy that Raspberry Jalapeno Jam specifically for the Christmas Cheesecake? Might be time to let it go. The box of Crackers made from split peas because your Auntie said they were a New Years tradition, then she canceled her trip because the snow never stopped? Keep Auntie Doris in your heart, and there's no need to keep her crackers in your pantry. Grab a trash bag, and some cleaning spray and a sponge and dive in.

There. See. How. Sparkly. ?

Spring Cleaning may need to be an annual process in your organization as well. Is there a reason you resist your gut instinct and let Frowning Flo hang out, hiring her back year after year? After all, once upon a time she worked hard as a housekeeper, but in the last few seasons you've seen her enthusiasm and team spirit wane. Is it possible that it's time to consider Friendly Francey to take her place?

Seasonal employers have a challenge each year to put together a staff that gels and gets the "show" up and running in just a short period of time. It's a magical crystal ball experience. Some years, more daunting than others. However, one of the advantages of being a seasonal employer is the opportunity to "start fresh" if you so desire.

You've cleaned out your fridge. You've identified the solid, long term, stock items you want to keep. Tossed what served you in the past but isn't key to the present. Go on a mission to find new flavors, rich colors, aromas that bring a smile. So it is with your staff. Indeed, like any good kitchen magician, you need to have a plan, shop for the best ingredients, put together the right mix, have your tools handy, and then tend to the process with your passion, experience, knowledge blazing. Get your timing right, add a little BAM! for good measure and - voila!

Your next adventure in the kitchen, or the next adventure with your staff, could turn out to be your best creation to date. Let your "guests" marvel at the "well seasoned" combination, your own renewed spirit and your very own, secret "wow!" factor.

See. How. Sparkly. ?

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

A Great Team Building Exercise For You and Your Staff !

The following "guest blog" is a contribution from Debi @ The Covered Wagon Ranch in Montana.

"Out of all my years of different management experience in different careers throughout my life, I have found nothing more challenging to manage than a group of seasonal employees living in a remote location who are forced to not only work together, but also live together. In a very short period of time you have to get the crew to respect each other, work together, and effectively learn to communicate. At times you're dealing with people of all ages as well as people who live all over the world. It's not easy.

I recently attended a seminar put on by the local Human Resources Organization on Understanding Personality Styles. We went through a process called "Real Colors", which is a system that is easy to administer, easy to remember, and quickly categorizes personality styles. While it is based on the theories of Carl Jung, it is simpler to administer and the results are easier to remember than other assessments based on Jung's work.

Real Colors separates personality traits into four categories: Blue, Gold, Green and Orange. Most of us have a primary, or dominant, color. All of these colors have positive and negative aspects. By determining your dominant color, you'll be able to determine a dominant personality and to effectively communicate to that person. For example, "Blues" will need people to listen to them as they listen to others, without solving or judging. "Golds" often need to restore order or accomplish something-big or small. "Greens" will need to turn inward and spend time alone sorting out their feelings. "Oranges" will need to be active, preferably, preferably with others.

Now I'm not a strong believer in doing personality tests on all my employees. In fact, I find it frightening. And I would never use it as a hiring tool. Instead, we gave everyone the test to determine their "dominant" color, and then talked about the best way to communicate with a particular style. We just wanted everyone to gain a respect for their co-workers so they could work better together by understanding each other.

Once we identified our "color", we had four buckets of paint and a blank canvas. We asked the crew to make a commitment to each other by recognizing that different people respond by different methods. Once committed, they dipped their hand into their color paint, and imprinted it on the canvas. The rule was that each painted hand had to connect to another hand to show that we all work together as a team. We posted the canvas right in the dining area of the lodge. It worked as a constant remember to work as a team, and our guests loved it as well. It worked really well for us last summer and we had the best crew ever. Everyone worked together and for the first time we ended the season with the same crew we started with!!

If you choose to do this program, just remember a few things. If you have international crew, you'll run into some language problems in getting the test completed. Also, some people have reading disabilities and got embarrassed when forced into a situation where they had to complete the test in front of their peers. Others had terrible grammar and spelling issues and didn't understand the questions but didn't want anyone else to know. So just pay close attention to your crew while taking the test and discreetly help them get through it.

It was worth it!"

Here's to a staff who dive in to this activity and to your team efforts, making your operation colorfully fantabulous!