Steadily Working Your Way Up!

In this mini series I will share some of my leadership savvy which I have learned and successfully applied during the past 27 years in international kitchens around the world. If you want to know more then click here: Leadership skills can be learned, that's the good news!

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Another form of showing your appreciation is to promote your staff. I have always liked to promote team members when they deserved it. That was especially important for me. I was never the guy who recognized talent and skill but kept quiet about it.

When I lived in Medan, Indonesia from 2011 to 2014, I worked for a local business hotel. This 195-room property featured one restaurant where we served Western, Chinese, Indonesian and Japanese cuisine. It was a popular place for young folks who had some money in their bank account. When I started to work there, I had Agus in my team. Agus was a young man and worked in the Western section of the kitchen. He was a “Demi Chef de Partie.” A Demi Chef reports to the Chef de Partie, the kitchen supervisor.

It happened that my other Chef De Partie, named Joe, suddenly resigned within 24 hours. I had to act quickly and decided to promote Agus to the Chef de Partie role. Agus was a quiet personality with a great attitude. He was reliable, attentive, friendly and always went the extra mile. He was ready for the next step. He was fit for the job. Agus was all set to assume the responsibilities of a Chef de Partie. He would be my next kitchen supervisor. I had an exceptionally good feeling to promote him and he deserved it 100%.

Agus excelled in his new role and assumed even more responsibility. He became my right hand. It was not long that I decided to promote him to a “Junior Sous Chef”.

A few months later, my assistant chef was about to be transferred to one of our sister hotels in Pekanbaru. Again, I faced the situation of filling in this gap.

Guess who came to my mind? Correct! Agus. He had grown into an invaluable asset in our kitchen. He was the only person I could think of to take over the assistant chef role. At that time, Agus had been handling more and more administrative duties. He was well organized in the chef’s office. This was an important thing to consider and impacted my decision to promote him.

Long story short, I promoted Agus to Chef de Cuisine. He became my new assistant chef. In my absence, Agus was running the kitchen with full responsibilities. In smaller operations the Chef de Cuisine is practically the executive chef. I was happy with my move and he as well.

One quick word regarding employee promotion:

I always favoured to promote my staff from within the team instead of hiring new people from outside.

There are two reasons for this. Number one, I save time looking for new employees outside of the company. It can take weeks, even months to find a proper person to fill in a role. Outsiders always need to be trained also. That takes time as well. If I promote someone from within then there is no training necessary.

Secondly, if I promote an employee from within then obviously, he will feel motivated. It is also an effective tool to influence other teammates in a positive way. The other team members are carefully watching every move I make and any action I take. If I promote someone than this serves as an example to others. Look, dedicated performance will be appreciated and honoured. This has been my not so subtle message I have been always trying to send to my team.

Back to Agus. When I left the company in 2014 Agus took over my job and assumed the role of an acting Executive Chef. The management never hired a new Executive Chef for many years. Agus was running the show.

I was proud of him all the time. I always knew that I picked the right guy. I had a flair for him. As I was writing this book in autumn of 2019, I could proudly announce that Agus at the time assumed the role of Executive Chef for the sister hotel in Jakarta. Congratulations! That is what I call “steadily working your way up.”

Staff promotion has always been a great and important tool for me to appreciate, grow and develop my team members.

Thanks for reading my post!


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