Kitchen team management skills – Recognition & Reward

To reward and recognise your kitchen team is both very powerful and inspirational. You cannot underestimate how much this motivates individuals and drives them on to be even better. John Wood shares some of his top tips for keeping teams motivated through rewards and recognition.


Rewards do not always have to have a monetary value, they can be verbal. A small certificate of reward can be created on a computer e.g a ‘Dish of the month’ competition where a chef can enter a recipe and photograph and put on the wall with all of the other entries. At the end of each month the previous month’s winner can choose the next winner with you. Chefs particularly like this if the winning dish is put on the menu. This can help you when it comes to creating new menu ideas… see our article HERE on that.


Offering even just a small prize for a job well done is always very much appreciated. Again, the monetary value does not have to be huge. Speak to your suppliers about donating a gift, buy a cookbook, or offer them a meal for two in the restaurant. Ideally you need to ensure there is structure and consistency behind these sorts of awards. Here are some ideas:
  • Dish of the month/ quarter/ year
  • Chef of the month/ quarter/ year
  • Best trainer
  • Most supportive (to other team members)
  • Best business idea
  • Best cost saving idea
  • Best customer experience
KC TOP TIP:  Tie this in to your business objectives – how can your kitchen team help to deliver the vision you have for your business? Read our article here on Setting Objectives


Verbal recognition is also extremely powerful and if issued carefully and not constantly it has a huge boost for morale for your team and your service staff. Choose your words carefully (as they will remember them for years), thank them for the good work and do it publicly, so others know that that colleague has done well. When other people see someone getting recognition they generally want to achieve the same. Subsequently they will raise their game and think of ways that they can improve their performance.

Key points to remember:

  • Structure your reward/competitions
  • Do not do too many as this devalues the idea
  • Use verbal reward and recognition in moderation. If you overdo this it devalues your words
  • Spread your praise and be impartial – not just your friends and your favorites
  • Don’t just limit this to chefs, apply the same to service staff as well.
You need to establish a fine balance of not giving too much praise and not giving enough. Too much will lose its value and the kitchen team will get tired of hearing it. Too little and teams are wanting to hear it more often. The general rule of thumb is say or do something every day at least once. Spread your praise out across the team and do not always focus on the same few people. Get creative in your internal competitions and also how you reward them.

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