Job titles

Too many times titles and egos get in the way of fluid work flow and overall efficiency. When staff members need a manager every time an item needs to be voided from an open table, the triviality slows down the work and the guests are left with less attention. When managers are drowning under the endless tasks on their to-do lists, the productivity drops down. The latter can be the result of simply overworking one person or they might be too proud to ask for help and delegate the tasks.

Therefore, the workers of a self-organized Teal bar no longer have a single “job title” that comes with a generic and often too limiting job description. Instead, everyone in the team fills a unique combination of roles at the venue in order to have dynamic flexibility and to adapt to external demands. Every role is a commitment they make to their peers – not to a manager above them. Another benefit of not having set in stone job titles is that we are more likely to see others, and ourselves, first and foremost as human beings.

In order to have an organized shift structure (roster), there are certain roles (bartender, floor staff, kitchen hand) that are of course needed for a shift to run efficiently. These different roles and responsibilities are part of the in-house training so that eventually everyone is able to work at any position there is. The idea is to rotate the tasks continuously to create a strong knowledge around the team, to understand the challenges every role has and to enable rotations for example due to sick leaves. Considering that the Millennials will make up the majority of the workforce by 2025, rotating the roles can also work as a motivating factor, as some studies suggest that 70% of Millennials consider job rotation within the business one of the most important aspects of their job.

As long as all the needed core roles of a running venue are covered, there is no need for precisely described job titles. The day to day roles are part of everyone’s “job description”. If you haven’t read it yet, check out this Organizational Structure post to get some background on the self-managing team subject.

“There is no hierarchy, because in my experience, hierarchies often don’t work. It’s a very comfortable way of passing blame onto other people. Here (Tayēr + Elementary), everyone is equal.”

Monica Berg

The combination of roles is more apparent outside the service hours – anyone can pick up tasks based on their interests, talents and the need of the venue. For example, someone might be more interested in taking photographs and handling the social media account, whereas someone else might be into creating a homey feeling in the staff room, or learning a new prep technique which they can teach to the rest of the team. In Bulletin Place Sydney for example, we used peer-to-peer trainings to further the collective knowledge level of the staff.

To keep track of the task groups you can have a log on the intranet (eg. Excel table, Google Docs) where everyone can fill in their own roles and responsibility areas they are holding at that moment. This way it’s also easy to contact the right person if someone is seeking internal advice or coaching. An important thing to remember is that no one else can decide who holds what role – the roles are self assigned. Otherwise, we fall back into the hierarchical boss-subordinate “power over others” pattern.

Monica Berg describes their creative process at Tayēr + Elementary, London, as the “collective effort” approach where each drink is the result of the teams collaboration and nothing goes on the menu unless everyone has tasted it and agreed it’s complete. This supports a guiding principle of the Wholeness – taming ones ego – by not taking the credit exclusively but sharing the process and the credits with others. These few lines from the 50 Best Stories article sums up their process quite clearly.

[To demonstrate how the creative process works, Berg takes the example of a drink she started working on earlier this year. “I really enjoy working with fermentation, so this summer, I got a nice batch of redcurrants and did a non-alcoholic fermentation,” she says. “After three and a half weeks, I tasted it – it was probably one of the best fermentations I’d ever done. I had this idea to make a drink that would taste as much like redcurrant as humanly possible.”

Soon after, however, Berg left on a business trip – only to come back and discover her redcurrant drink was almost finalised. “It was a completely different drink than I would have ever imagined,” recalls Berg. “At first, I was slightly disappointed, because I wasn’t able to make the drink I had in my mind. Then, I tasted the drink and it was amazing – it was so popular that we ran out within a week.

When no one creates a single cocktail, but every cocktail is a product of the team, the drinks are so much better for it. But you have to be willing not to take the credit.“]

What does it take to become the world’s leading bartender?
Monica Berg on flavour, philanthropy and female craftsmanship

Giulia Sgarbi – 28/11/2019

In a way, anyone can sit “in the bosses chair” since there are no titles per se and the role combinations can vary. Anyone who notices an opportunity for improvement can bring about important decisions, launch new initiatives, hold underperforming colleagues accountable or help resolve conflicts. Teal practices call for situational leadership, where the rotation of the roles define your momentarily status, depending on the situation.

Due to covid related issues many venues have faced a sudden need for a structural change in their job descriptions. In this 10 commandments for reopening restaurants and bars after coronavirus article Monica Berg reminds that “With smaller teams there’s an opportunity for businesses to do away with traditional job titles and allow staff to apply themselves to multiple tasks. Throw away the notion of this person being a bartender and that person being a chef and be much more fluid in the way you work”. From times like these we can learn that being agile and adding more fluidity to the roles and responsibilities of the bar team can also work for our benefit later in the so called normal times.

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Mika Ammunét Written by:

Bar Manager, Future Bar Owner

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