On the couch: a blog on running a successful kitchen from performance psychologist Mike Duckett

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 10th April 2015
This is the next instalment in a series of blogs from performance psychologist Mike Duckett of Coaching for Success, helping chefs to raise their games in the kitchen.

Going round in circles?

Not quite; it's just that someone said to me recently, "what's that model of performance you often quote - you know, the one that goes round in circles". A bit like Steve Peter's 'The Chimp Paradox' I talked about last time, this reference to circles is about another very useful and, on the face of it, simple model or way of thinking about your performance and what needs to change to get better or what needs to be protected that makes you as good as you are. Because we humans are not simple creatures and there's always so much that can influence how we behave at any particular moment (how you slept the night before; what conversations you had before you left home etc), this model also has several layers to it and I propose to cover just one or two at a time in each blog.goals-pic Once again it's not my model but one that was popularised by Robert Dilts, a well know NLP trainer. I will add to this a little bit here because I want to use it to get you thinking about your own performance and that always starts with a goal. In the model below the performer has a goal which needs to be clearly defined and envisioned to make it really useful. We've talked about goal setting before; about making sure you have a positive goal focused on something you want to achieve and not avoid; being able to clearly imagine it happening etc. So after you have a clear goal (e.g. 'to have a successful restaurant' or 'to be promoted to Head Chef') what do you need to think about next? The first thing could be to put your goal into its context: Context You can see from the way I've drawn these concentric circles that everything outside your head is simply the context within which you need to perform to achieve your goal. So if your goal is something like 'to be head chef' then the context would include people such as your boss, the team around you, the style of restaurant/cuisine you're expected to deliver etc. contextThis context makes a difference as to how you need to perform to achieve your goal. In fact there is a point of view that states that no behaviour has any meaning, good or bad, until you understand the context it's happening in. If all you know is that front of house have just greeted a customer with "Hi buddy, how're you doing?" you have no idea if this is appropriate or not until we learn the context is in a local burger bar. Now, the context changes subtly all the time so if you are to stay at your best you need to be sensitive to these changes. For example, when your role changes from sous chef to head chef a very common mistake is to continue to perform the way you did before the promotion; after all, you got the job because of the way you did things in your old role so that must be what you need to keep doing. Wrong! Some of the things you did before may well be appropriate still but there has been an immediate change in context which means you'd be wise to take some time to think about this. This period is often called 'The 90 day Transition'.
  • What is expected of you now?
  • What skills will still be key?
  • What new skills do you need? (e.g. leadership)
Above all, remember the relationship with everyone else, including your boss, has now changed so your previous behaviour around them may need to be different. Finally, one obvious way to achieve your goal of a promotion to head chef may be to continue to behave as you are but change the context i.e. find a different boss or team where your current style is more appropriate. However, you'll still be in a 90 day transition - not just from one role to another but to a whole new culture too so you'll still need to ask the same questions of yourself! Next time: How to behave. Mike DuckettMike Duckett has a degree in psychology and is a member of the Occupational Psychology division, the Sports Psychology division & the Coaching Psychology Special Group of the British Psychological Society. He holds a diploma in Hypnotherapy & Cognitive therapy and is a certified NLP coach. With over 20 years experience he was one of the pioneers of applying performance psychology to coach people in the hospitality industry to get the best from themselves, in areas such as creativity; leadership; optimism etc. As a certified NLP Coach and ANLP Accredited Master Practitioner, Mike has clients ranging from world renowned chefs, restaurateurs & sommeliers to up and coming staff in both the kitchen and front of house. You can see more of Mike's blogs here

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 10th April 2015

On the couch: a blog on running a successful kitchen from performance psychologist Mike Duckett