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Bishoftu - The Mission

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By Ian Cowley April 16, 2018 - 11:23am

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The mission:
Work with the food and beverage team at the Kuriftu Bishoftu Resort & Spa to help improve guest service, advise on and help incorporate internationally-accepted standards, and poke around in their kitchens to come up with some efficiencies and new menu items. All of this is to be done respecting and integrating Ethiopian traditions and customs.
Though each CESO assignment is unique, there are always patterns and similarities.
Tuckman’s stages of group development are always on my mind during the first few days. The first three days are for formingand storming, and are all about conversations, finding common ground, and gaining trust. I do this with management, staff, and sometimes with guests (especially when I find them wondering who the 6’2” blue-eyed white-guy is, dressed business casual at a hotel/resort). The idea is to collect as much of a 360° view of the operation as possible, in the shortest time possible. The most important things at first are the things that people tell you. The next most important things are the contradictions you spot between the things people tell you. Later in the first week (norming), the staff are figuring me out and realizing that I am simply there to help. The second week is truly where the performinghappens. The first week’s planning and scheming starts to bear fruit.
Whereas my other five assignments have been to one-off hotels, this one is to the top resort in a company of nine resorts that is currently building eight more. As such, growth is their main challenge and advantage. This resort is the training ground whereby they staff the other business units. Do well here, and you may find yourself shipped off with a promotion.
The good news is that all management here have the minimum of a baccalaureate degree in hospitality management, but without a lot of practical experience. Cooks have all been hired out of cooking school, but cooking school in Ethiopia is only three months. So …. lots of eager young-folk who are missing hands-on experience, which is not such a bad thing to work with.
After a couple of days of conversations and observations, we agreed on the following six objectives:
1.    Training sessions with dining room leaders on maintaining established standards and the performance management of staff.
2.     Observation of kitchen operations for efficiency, menus, safety/sanitation, cost controls. Recommendations to follow.
3.     Creation of an employee opinion survey. Currently there is no method of gauging employee satisfaction with their jobs.
4.     Refinement of guest survey documents to enable the collection of data that is relevant to the resort’s established service standards.
5.     Review Banquet and Group operations for efficiencies and quality of delivery.
6.     Review and rewrite a la carte menu to reflect current practices in the industry, and test new items with the kitchen team.
How much can a CESO Volunteer Assistant really change in just two weeks? As much as possible, but the hope is that new knowledge and habits will continue after my departure. The key to this, I believe, is the old “teach a man to fish …” analogy. Changes have to be workable without me, and systemic rather than detailed.
Time to roll up the sleeves.

By: Ian Cowley
Posted: April 16, 2018, 11:23 am


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