My friend Kevin Bright wanted to do an interview today because it is his birthday! He was also really adamant that he talk about good management and recognition in the workplace, and the birthday boy gets what he wants! As a young man managing many, his experiences and insight are very valuable.
JOAQUIN: First off, “Happy Birthday, Kevin!” How old are you today?
KEVIN: Today I am 23 years old. It’s not exciting. I’m too young for an insurance discount and I’m not at senior citizen discounts yet either. It’s all downhill after 21….kidding.
J: Speaking of senior citizens, that’s sort of your specialty, now isn’t it? Where is it you are working?
K: I currently work at Grandview Terrace Retirement Community. It is a luxury life care facility.
J: And how long have you been there?
K: I have worked there for almost two years and just recently celebrated my one-year in management.
J: So what is your position there?
K: My position is Dining Room Manager.
J: Look at you! What does the Dining Room Manager do?
K: I currently manage the six different dining rooms that we have. Each dining room has a different theme: New Orleans, Santa Fe, Napa Valley, Victorian Tea Room, Hawaiian, and The Club. The Club is our newest addition and it serves as a casual dining room in the evening. All our other dining rooms have a dress code that is enforced by our residents’ council.
J: Wow! I’m floored at how fancy that retirement home is! You weren’t kidding when you said “luxury.” Sorry to interrupt. Back to your duties, sir…
K: I manage the front of the house staff entirely for dining services. This includes hostesses, servers, food runners, coffee/water servers, catering, etc. Currently I have about 32 staff members.
J: You’re 23 years old and already managing 32 staff members! Amazing!
K: Since I have taken the position, I have completely revolutionized the way we plan our catering events by using company tools to the fullest. I have created electronic files, turned around an entire staff to enjoying their jobs, and taken on as many extra assignments as I possibly can. In my spare time I have been teaching a basic class on computers… anything from how to google to how to copy/paste. I love our residents and have had a blast working with them!
J: You are a busy bee! So it’s safe to say you like your job, huh?
K: I absolutely love my job. I can think of no other place I would rather be most of my day. This is in part due to the fact that I have an amazing boss who challenges me to go outside of my comfort zone daily, but who also understands that I am here to do the same for her on occasion. It’s nice to have a mentor that you know you can trust one hundred percent.
J: She sounds like a great manager, which I know is what you wanted to talk about here—management. So what position did you start out in?
K: I started out in the company as a food runner. I worked my way to server, and to working many catering events, and finally to Dining Room Manager in less than a year. I must say though, that luck was definitely a big player in my success. However, I also must say that I am a big proponent of showing dedication; and that combined with patience and an attitude of gratitude allowed me to achieve the position.
K: My boss challenged me by throwing me in new positions all the time and by giving me opportunities to make something a success. I was able to work at the facility I now staff with servers and run it the way I wanted without a title or an increase. It was fun. I took on as much responsibility as I could and the titles and pay came later.
J: So now that you are the manager, what are you doing to ensure your employees have the same opportunities?
K: The answer to this question is recognition and actively challenging your staff. With some coaching from my mentor and boss, I learned that a paycheck is not enough satisfaction for a person. We are all human and we all have the desire to contribute to a greater good naturally. We also have that craving for recognition naturally too.
J: You are absolutely right! A paycheck isn’t enough to make you happy.
K: The key to it all is remembering that your employees are human. A happy employee will give you a greater return. Their work ethic will be greater, and their contagious attitude is absolutely worth the hard work. This being said, recognition cannot be a blanket type for your entire staff. Everyone is an individual human and his or her recognition needs to be tailored to his or her personality type. If you hated movies, I really couldn’t get you motivated by giving you movie tickets now could I?
J: Ha ha! Feel free to give me movie tickets any day, Kevin! But I see what you mean.
K: Instead my goal was to get to know my employees so I could reward them appropriately for their successes. I showed appreciation for going above and beyond the job description. And as I did these things, morale was strengthened, more people enjoyed their jobs, and teamwork began to blossom.
J: So I’m guessing your staff gets along pretty well with each other.
K: Yes! I have created a compliment board for my staff to write out compliments to each other, and we currently have a program where employees vote for another employee to receive a Bravo Award at our quarterly meetings. I also have a hero board where I have my staff pick their hero, tell me some attributes of their hero, and how they can relate those attributes in their job. I also took the time to make a staff video that introduced my staff as a team to our residents. It all seems really simple, but commitment to the process will yield the results a manager is seeking.
J: That doesn’t sound simple at all! You’re so creative and crafty! Going to all the trouble of making cute boards and a movie even… I’m impressed.
K: Thanks, Jack. I even have staff wanting me to come up with more outside-of- work functions. That right there really spelled it out for me. I have created an environment that some don’t even want to leave. They want to bring it into their personal time. That says a lot to me.
J: That’s awesome, Kevin. Seriously, I’m proud of you.
K: I am extremely proud of my staff and how much they have grown as I have grown. No one person can do it alone! I secretly hope that they always think back at their job at Grandview and think, “That was an awesome job, I really felt valuable, I was lucky to have a great start there.” If I can do that, I have done my job well.