A Kind Dining® instructor called to tell me of an incident showing a big result from one of her Kind Dining® training sessions. One of the servers donned an apron just to see what reaction she would get. Surprisingly a resident told her she looked like Kind Dining® and that she liked the look of it. Others agreed with her. Even more surprising was the reaction of the other serving staff. They wanted to join in and wear aprons, too.
A few new aprons were bought and the laundering was arranged. Aprons were discussed at the next Kind Dining® committee meeting with everyone in agreement about the positive resident and staff reaction. A few servers wanted to wear their own aprons, especially during holiday seasons, so we agreed on that, too. The fun was spreading without any policy or procedure involved. Relationships were forming between staff members and also with the residents. Relationships matter.
This instructor, who happens to be the Administrator, keeps the pile of suggestions the staff brings to her. She is delighted with their enthusiasm. A few are taking the empowerment to the hilt and others are catching onto the ideas. She was not telling them what to do, but encouraging and supporting their ideas.
This is a perfect example of a strong culture change in the community. Employees are happier when they are encouraged to be part of building the community daily process. It gives them ownership of their working lives and a sense of belonging to the community. Through these challenges insight and growth emerge allowing servers to reach their full potential. It dissolves the negative thinking that servers are waitresses.
Embracing the ideas of staff tells them that you are listening and respect their efforts to make mealtimes a better experience for the residents. It gives the residents a chance to join in the fun simply by acknowledging the addition of aprons added with residents in mind, especially when holiday themed aprons can be so joyful. Implement the best suggestions quickly to keep the eagerness flowing, making it clear that their opinions matter. That it matters because they came to work today and show they care. Praise, support, and reward your servers changing roles and growing responsibilities in the dining environment.