Staff Functions

As I mentioned in one previous post which explores the five main organizational models the humankind has seen so far, the ORANGE model has brought to life different departments, such as HR, PR and R&D, throughout the years. While these departments can be productive, they can also be ineffective since they are concentrating much of the power to headquarters, sadly far away from the ground level operations.

The efforts of human resources, internal communications, quality control, training, strategic planning, finance, risk management, public affairs etc, have unfortunately lead the departments to have a natural tendency to prove their worth by finding ways to “add value” for their position in the company. Albeit with the best intentions, the departments have many times ended up creating rules and procedures, building up expertise and finding new problems to solve, with the cost of moving the decision making away from the front line workers – bartenders, front of the house, even managers.

Instead of having the HR to be solely responsible of hiring people, bring in a few members of the team to join the conversation and to get acquainted with the interviewee and vice versa. This way, both parties can have a grasp of the other, instead of simply placing someone blindly to a new team. A few hour trial shift is another good way to get to know a person. Throwing someone in at the deep end is one way, but I recommend choosing a day that is not completely packed to enable guiding and actually overseeing the trial.

Photo by Jeffry Santony

Internal communications and quality control should be a part of each team members responsibilities at all times, but moderately. Sure, if someone is appointed to be in charge of informing and engaging people, as well as building a great work culture, they can achieve it thoroughly. But maybe we don´t need a big campaign to lift our spirits, but an actual change in working methods to create a better atmosphere for the work place?

Same goes to the quality control, especially for staff members. Why should it be the responsibility of another department or manager to quality check ingredients and safeness of the venue? Working on the basis that “I´ll do it properly when the boss is around” or thinking that “these rotten fruits are not my responsibility, the manager should know they are rotten” are flimsy ways to avoid ones duties. All in all, briefs about important events and daily details should be shared around by everyone. Similarly the condition of the venue as well as the produce should be monitored by everyone.

By building trust, being transparent and bonding with your team, as an owner, you can notice people taking ownership of the venue and being proud of what they do (and who they do it with). But taking ownership of a venue while not actually being in charge can be overwhelming and this has to be understood by everybody,

A day off should be a day off. Having a platform (in Sydney we used Slack) for the whole team to share information at all times can benefit the operations, but I know from experience it can be complicated. There have been times when I had to remind myself to turn the chat notifications off to actually have a day off, even though I felt the urge to see what’s happening in the bar. The itch to be in the know, especially when I could learn something for my future bar, is strong in me, but it´s important to sharpen the blade every now and then and have a rest. I can´t stress this enough: be a teammate but have boundaries.

Photo by Jeffry Santony

Training sessions can be organized with the help of the whole team. Peer to peer teaching helps us understand each others´ strengths. It also creates a chance to work on being accountable to your mates inside the self-managed network we are building. One person at a time can come up with a training topic (spirits, service skills, bartending, technique etc) for the day and then leads the session that time. Of course it’s good to consult a known professional or have them as a guest speaker, but rotate the person who is in charge of running the show. A whole post about training and onboarding is coming up later on in the Wholeness section.

Strategic planning, finance, risk management and public affairs are functions that are harder to share among the team, without overwhelming them too much. That being said, public relations can be part of a bartenders interests in the form of cocktail competitions and interviews, and can be helpful on the route to creating the image of the bar. Nevertheless, these activities are usually handled by the owners and investors, since they are the ones who are financially and legally responsible of the operations. Even though the owners and directors are mainly responsible for these functions, I believe in a Teal environment, there is a possibility to have open door executive meetings. The staff who want to know more can participate in a meeting as an observer (or even join the conversation if suitable) and understand better the bigger picture.

To sum up, when the decision making power is shifted away from the venue it can create a disempowered work environment. The staff feel like they have to follow rules that make mainly sense on paper, not so much in the complex day to day situations. On top of that, when the on-foot and humane approach is pushed aside it can cause a lack of motivation at the work place. Therefore, it is vital to keep the staff functions to a bare minimum and have “support functions”, like the coach, kicking into action only when teams request for their support and guidance.

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Mika Ammunét Written by:

Bar Manager, Future Bar Owner

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