Succession Plan

In many cases, a rising restaurant usually employs a famouse figure as a chef. Along the way, the chef resigns and the restaurant fails to maintain its

quality. There are some factors for it, but now, we’ll focus on the succession plan with Chef Rahmat Kusnedi, President of Indonesia Pastry Alliance (IPA).

How important is this succession plan?

It’s very important for the sustainability of the company. One of business’ key successes is you can’t depend on only one figure, ideally, everything has been
coordinated with the system. Often times, when we build a new company, we’re willing to hire great people, but sometimes, their knowledge were not shared to
the other staffs. As a result, when they resigned, even though we already have standardization, the company failed to do the succession, they will have hard times in maintaining the quality and it may drop the company’s image significantly.

Who has the biggest interest in this plan?

Basically, the people in top management are required to direct, because most of the times, the BOD is not participating in operational. I understand, we have some chefs that are hard-working, perfectionist, who has to make their own products, everybody else should stay away, therefore, the company depends on their figures. However, when he resigned out of the company, the quality declines.

Sometimes owners don’t understand, they assume every chef in white has the same exact skills, actually there are many levels of chefs. It’s similar with doctors, we have gynecologist, internist, etc, you also can’t assume every chef is the same. We have to plan succession plan from far, even since the recruitment, the
managers or the chefs must recognize the staffs’ talents.

Some chefs think that the succession  plan is threatening their own position.

This is why the succession, for some type of regional cuisines, progresses very slowly. It’s as if they won’t let their knowledge shared to their staffs. Even
when they take days off, they don’t really care about the operation. These old ways should be left behind, it’s already modern times. Now is not the era of secret, even for small problems, everyone from bottom to top level will notice them.

Actually, the chefs will be greatly helped by this succession plan. It will be tasted when they take some days off, you can tell if his staff is capable or not. It’s very undesirable to have declining quality when the chefs are not around, at the end, they are trapped in their own positions. Succession plan is also important for other divisions as well, not just kitchen.

What’s the goal of this succession plan?

To maintain the stability of the organizational structure, also operational, so at the end of the day, we will get consistency and volume. Often times, the company produces consistent volume, but the quality suffers. Sometimes, we have some conditions that require the company to save budget, and the owners decided to remove some important positions such as chef’s assistant. However, when things got better, it’s better to hire the replacement to maintain the structure of the organization.

Someone in managerial position, like a chef, requires to master not only the situation in the field, he has to be able to negotiate with the owners, BODs, also to the staffs under him. Some owners don’t have F&B background, so we have to explain the situations, such as maintaining consistency, variable cost, the tight competition so we can’t have big margin, we have to explain the issues.

Then, what are the steps to make the succession plan?

First, there should be clear job task. As usual, the higher the position, the job and responsibility will be bigger. Let say for commis chefs, they only required to
cut or measure the ingredients, meanwhile the job of mixing them will be left to senior commis because the job involves higher cost. The same goes for the next position such as supervisor, demi chef, or chef de partie.

In addition to the hard skills, the jobs task need to explain the required soft skills. Of course, for soft skills, sometimes we need trainings. In short term, people will see trainings as cost, but in long term, it’s an investment. When someone is developing his skills, in the end he can help the workload of the managers and owners, the same with the objective of this succession plan. If you want to retain the staffs, you can’t just see them as worker who got salary, we have to humanize them and see them as partners.

And then the next steps?

Setting limitations. Sometimes a staff is having overload job tasks, therefore we need to set clear limitations of a position. Let say a supervisor may handle
complaints and give solutions, however when it involves compensations, such as giving 1 whole cake, it’s the duty of a manager. The same goes for the manager,
he need the skill to do costing, budgeting and making business plan. How about the budgeting for the next 5 years? Does it have to involve BODs? We need to
organize these kinds of tasks.

The last is empowering and trust After setting the clear job task and limitation, someone need responsibility and trust. Without them, a staff will be afraid to make any decisions to avoid the blaming game. If a chef is on holiday, he has to give the trust to his staffs, one of them is by not making continuous phone calls to check the situation.