5 Ways To Help Your Team Thrive

How can we create positive change in our kitchens? What can we do to ensure that our teams are thriving? These were the questions we asked this month at #FairKitchens.

Our chefs and experts shared their insights and the practices that they use in order to build a strong team culture and create a happy working environment.

1. Meditation helps staff to perform under stress

“Working in a MICHELIN-Starred restaurant demands a constant pursuit of perfection. I am a big believer that mindful meditation can activate the brain to better adapt to stressful or negative situations. I take both my front and back of house team through a 5-8 minute breathing meditation every evening before dinner service. 

Each session starts with a series of deep breaths, which goes like this: Breathe in for 3 seconds, hold it in for 12 seconds and exhale (through the left nostril) for 6 seconds. While doing it, visualise your energy moving either through the spine to “ cool down” or to the limbs to energise, depending on the mood. As the body releases the muscle tension and stress-related hormones, the mind quiets down for meditation, eliminating clutter and chatter.”

Emmanuel Stroobant,
Chef and Owner of Saint Pierre

2. Show appreciation for your team’s hard work

"The culture I'm working to create for Wolf and Woman is one of respect and integrity. Everyone is seen as equal, no matter their experience level, and their work is valued and treated as vital to keep business running properly. You can't run a good business or make amazing food without the help of your team, and how they are treated should always be with compassion and kindness. Restaurant work is laborious. We miss out on a lot of our lives and time with loved ones, and that should be appreciated."

Kaci Goff,
Chef and Founder of Wolf and Woman

3. Set the right tone as the leader

"As a leader, people look at you for strength, people look at you for comfort, people look at you for direction. If you're not calm, you're running around the place not knowing what to do. People start getting stressed.

You need to be able to direct, you need to be able to keep calm in situations, and also comfort your team members, because if you don't comfort them, it also filters down to your junior team members. I've always believed, as a chef, you can't overreact to certain issues. Because certain issues are beyond your control and sometimes out of your control.”

Coovishan Pillay,
Executive Chef at Protea Hotel by Marriot, OR Tambo International

4. Open communication invites your team to participate

"Passion and creativity are something that people pick up on. If somebody comes happy and motivated to work, he's likely to take the people around him on that journey with him.

Working in a kitchen is working in a creative environment. Creating food every day, even if it's the same menu, even if it's the same dish that we do every day, takes passion and creativity. It's your job as a leader to make sure that your team feels passionate and excited, that they have the desire to create every day. Spark that fire every time you enter the kitchen."

Einav Gefen,
Executive Chef of Unilever Food Solutions, North America

5. It’s not just about the salary

"It’s important that your team feels valued. If you want to keep your staff, it's not just about raising wages, it's about the full employment package. Are you investing in development? Do you have the progression of your chefs at the front of your mind? What's your approach to stress, long working hours and the challenges of working in a busy kitchen? Do you listen to your chefs? How do you ensure ‘I'm happy at work’? All of these things have always been important, but now more than ever, people are paying attention to what's important to themselves, as people and not just as professionals."

Max Brent,
Director of The Chef Partnership


We can be agents for positive change. By paying attention to the needs of our teams we can begin to create an environment that not only supports our staff, but also gives them space to flourish.

If you want to learn more about creating a thriving team, sign up to our free online leadership programme

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn, as we continue to explore the different ways we can promote positive change within the industry.