Yes, he screams and curses and throws things in kitchens. Let’s admit it, most of us have screamed and cursed and thrown things in a kitchen. But he does it with a true concern for the restaurant owners and a British accent – which makes him Gordon Ramsey.
I prefer his style on Kitchen Nightmares vs. Hell’s Kitchen, because he’s less bluster and more constructive criticism. Yes, they show him dumping food out on the floor and vomiting after eating a bad scallop, but if you really watch him closely and read between the sensationalistic lines you’ll see that he takes actions that make him a top rate warrior of change.
If you haven’t seen Kitchen Nightmares, let me share the general format of each show. Gordon goes to a restaurant that is failing miserably, makes them a little more miserable by telling them how horrible they are, and then provides suggestions that will help them succeed. I watched a Kitchen Nightmares marathon while sitting at home sick one day, and noticed the following change behaviors. In each show, my man Gordon:
1. Creates a crisis. Quick change requires that the complacent get unstuck, and even people who have requested the change will fight it. Therefore, Gordon goes in as an irritant first. He doesn’t like one dish they offer, he’s ridiculously disgusted by the condition of the kitchen, and he feels this restaurant might never get fixed. All of this bluster creates a pain point to propel the leader to stick with the change.
2. Checks for leadership commitment. Ramsey goes after the leadership first – are they willing to change? To learn? To improve? Are they strong enough to lead with confidence? Do they have the passion to run a restaurant, or are they just trying to make a buck? If they are missing any of the above, he wants them out.
3. Assesses the market. Before he makes any recommendations to the owners, he takes the time to assess the local competition and determines which types of restaurant seem to get the most business.
4. Goes straight to the customers. Crazy idea, I know, but he actually asks customers what they think about the food he might offer, even providing taste tests. He then asks them what they would be willing to pay for that particular dish. Too many companies develop most of their products without ever asking the customer if they’d buy it.
5. Values customer’s judgment of success over the owners. At the end of a service, he doesn’t simply ask the owner “Do you think this was successful?” He doesn’t allow them to judge the success of the night until they read every single, solitary customer comment card. He knows that the customer perspective represents the future of that restaurant, not the opinion of the owner.
6. Values quality over quantity. One of his first tasks, always, is to check for the quality of the dishes offered. Then he cuts down ridiculously complex menus into seven or eight meals that are quality and will become the signature dishes of that restaurant. I think there are a few banks that could use his services.
7. Ensures staff skills are up-to-par. Gordon understands that once he creates clarity of direction, people have to be trained. This is where he gets a little rough with the incompetent, but he also spends one-on-one time coaching until everyone has the skills needed to succeed.
Basically, he creates a checklist for anybody trying to create change. So, if you’re offended by “effing” words, you might not be crazy about Gordon. But I challenge you to pay attention to what he does more than what he says. His actions speak louder than his words.