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Giving chefs the skills and confidence needed to engage, support, develop and motivate their teams

27 Apr 2022
People 1st International

Improving management skills in hospitality and tourism to help reduce staff turnover is a priority that has been identified within the sector. For chefs in particular, many have traditionally been promoted because of their culinary skills, without receiving the management and leadership development.

As businesses now face intense competition to recruit and retain talent, there’s a heightened need for head chefs and aspiring head chefs to become better people managers and to possess the skills and confidence needed to engage, support, develop and motivate their teams.

To help address this challenge, head chefs and aspiring head chefs across Scotland were offered an opportunity to secure fully funded places on the Chef Management & Leadership Training Programme from People 1st International.

Funded by Skills Development Scotland, the virtual programme trained over 60 chefs in the knowledge and skills needed to manage, motivate and retain staff effectively.

So what did they learn? We spoke to participants on the programme to find out:

Piotr Zamojc – Head Chef, Drift Café

With nine years’ experience in hospitality, Piotr joined his current employer in August 2021. With no formal training in management and leadership, he had tended to avoid any conflicts occurring within the team and neglected staff members’ needs, prioritising businesses needs, rather than finding a healthy balance between both.

With the impact the industry is facing as a result of Brexit and the pandemic Piotr felt he need to adapt to the situation. He hoped the course would help him understand how to approach younger people wanting to join the industry. Additionally, he wanted to broaden his horizons and gain new knowledge to help the team and business.

Piotr found being able to engage with other people from the industry from across Scotland extremely beneficial. Helping him to understand the importance of staff training and individual needs of staff members, he plans to incorporate all the ideas he’s been given to try to create a conflict free work environment where all the employees feel valued and important.

Piotr believes the skills and experience he’s gained will make his work easier and reduce the stress related to the role significantly, allowing him to be more organised and look at things from a wider perspective.

Hayley Wilkes – Chef & business owner, WEECook

Hayley has worked in hospitality for over 16 years. Her passion for the industry began in her teens and after stepping away from hospitality for five years to follow a career in banking, Hayley returned, determined to retrain, and pursue her dream. As the owner and chef of the The WeeCook Kitchen she’s now been successfully operating the cafe, restaurant and award-winning pie makers for over 11 years.

Whilst Hayley had completed management training in her previous roles within banking, she was inspired to join the Chef Management & Leadership Training Programme to perfect her approach to recruiting and retaining her team. Keen to delegate more, Hayley was looking to develop her confidence in managing staff development ahead of assigning more management responsibility.

After completing the programme, Hayley has built her knowledge in a number of areas and has generated a detailed action plan of the steps she’s putting in place to address training and development, recognising the need to recruit and train better managers to improve staff retention. Determined to empower her employees, she’s also put in place plans to train, coach, mentor, and review progress of all staff.

With attraction also proving challenging, Hayley plans to use the knowledge she’s developed on equality, diversity, and inclusion to help her attract from a greater pool of talent.

Catherine Bull – Senior sous chef, Crieff Hydro

Catherine has worked in her current role as senior sous chef at Crieff Hydro for 5 years. With 22 years’ experience in the industry, she’s had leadership training via an internal company program but after experiencing recruitment and motivation challenges within the team as a result of Covid, Catherine was keen to explore approaches to attract and retain employees, and to find better ways to onboard new recruits.

The Chef Management & Leadership Training Programme provided Catherine with a wealth of useful information and ideas that she feels can often be forgotten about or overlooked especially when managing people. Covering a lot of the areas Catherine was keen to explore, she’s walked away from the training with a greater level of knowledge and confidence on effective recruitment, retaining employees and better ways to manage different members of the team.

With a detailed action plan in place, Catherine’s first objective is to revisit some of the job adverts they currently have advertised and amend the wording to non-gender specific, helping to ensure an inclusive approach to recruitment.


Find out more about the Chef Management & Leadership Training Programme.

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