Employers place a strong emphasis on essential skills in the workplace. Essential skills are used in nearly every occupation, and are seen as 'building blocks' because people build on them to learn all other skills.
Each profile contains a list of example tasks that illustrate how each of the 9 essential skill is generally performed by the majority of workers in an occupation. The estimated complexity levels for each task, between 1 (basic) and 5 (advanced), may vary based on the requirements of the workplace.
Food service supervisors supervise, direct and co-ordinate the activities of workers who prepare, portion and serve food. They are employed by hospitals and other health care establishments and by cafeterias, catering companies and other food service establishments.
- Discover that menu items are unpopular with customers. They may search for other ways to use the items to limit wastage. They also try to determine the reasons for the lack of popularity and may devise alternatives that can be prepared quickly. (2)
- Experience equipment breakdowns. If their attempts to troubleshoot faults are unsuccessful, they request technical support. They also consult co-workers such as chefs and cooks to determine if there are alternatives to using the equipment and may substitute menu items. (2)
- Face shortages of key supplies and ingredients. They contact suppliers to place rush orders if budgets and time allow. They may also contact colleagues for assistance and make menu substitutions if food quality standards can be maintained. They may also reorganize schedules of food service to accommodate later deliveries of supplies. (2)
- Find there are not enough food service workers due to illnesses and miscommunications with staffing agencies. They may contact other personnel and agencies to obtain substitute workers or reorganize tasks for existing workers until more arrive. They may have to explain to customers why service is slow and predict when to expect improvements. (2)
- Discover errors and substandard work such as lost orders, incorrect menus served, overcooked food and rudeness to customers. They speak to those involved to confirm they understand their tasks and responsibilities, organize training sessions and impose disciplinary measures. They may also make changes to the order and wording of written procedures and need to elicit cooperation from other supervisors if the errors originate in other work units. (3)
- Find that specific workers are committing misdemeanours such as overstating their hours, sleeping on the job, giving customers free meals or stealing supplies. They investigate the situations to obtain confirmation of the nature and extent of the misconduct and search for information about disciplinary procedures in collective agreements or consult managers and colleagues about precedents. They meet the workers to discuss their findings and appropriate disciplinary measures. (3)
- Choose ingredients, recipes and menus to serve their customers. For example, food service supervisors in nursing homes take into consideration residents' preferences and dietary requirements, budgetary limits, preparation times and standards of quality and appearance. They also choose menus and dishes to highlight seasonal ingredients, cultural themes and special occasions. (2)
- Select task assignments for cooks, dietary and kitchen aides, servers and other workers. They consider individuals' skills, experience, preferences and availabilities while ensuring equity among workers. (2)
- May choose suppliers. They consider cost, product availabilities, delivery times and quality standards. (2)
Job Task Planning and Organizing
- May judge the suitability of menus and dietary choices for individuals and groups. For example, hospital food service supervisors check that patients restricted to low lactose diets do not have cheese listed among their food preferences. (1)
- Assess hygiene and safety in their work units by inspecting the cleanliness of serving dishes and utensils, working surfaces, refrigerators, other storage areas, sinks, washrooms and floors. They check that tools, equipment and food are properly stored when not in use and that signage is current. They review training records to ensure compliance with Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System requirements. (2)
- Evaluate the competence of the workers they supervise. They consider each worker's accuracy in taking food orders and keeping records, knowledge of menu items, interactions with customers and co-workers and punctuality. (2)
- Evaluate the quality and consistency of the food service operations they supervise. They compare the flavours, colours, textures, temperatures and general presentation of food served to their organizations' standards and examine the interactions between food service workers and customers. They also consider whether food is being served as ordered as well as the results of satisfaction surveys including comments made by customers. (3)
Own Job Planning and Organizing
Food service supervisors organize their tasks into daily and weekly routines. They must adapt their plans to deal with frequent interruptions and unplanned events such as shortages of menu items, last minute changes to customers' orders and absent and late workers. They need to be willing to change priorities and manage multiple tasks in various stages of completion in order to successfully carry out their work. (3)
Planning and Organizing for Others
Food service supervisors prepare schedules and assign tasks for cooks, dietary aides, kitchen help, waiters and other workers under their supervision.
Significant Use of Memory
- Remember the faces and names of as many workers and customers as possible to personalize interactions with them.
- May remember various codes and abbreviations of diets, foods and commands used in documents and computer programs to work more quickly.
- Remember the details of policies and procedures to ensure that food services meet organizational standards and government regulations.
- Find information about special diets by searching in dietary care manuals and nutrition journals and consulting dietitians and nutritionists. (2)
- Find information about new food preparation, presentation and distribution trends by consulting colleagues, reading trade publications and attending food industry fairs. (2)
Other Essential Skills:
Working with Others
Food service supervisors coordinate and integrate job tasks with chefs, stewards, cooks, managers and marketing staff to plan menus and food presentation, control inventories and costs, and meet quality and safety standards. In hospital and residential settings, they work closely with dietitians, nurses and nutritionists to meet the special dietary needs of their customers.
Continuous learning is an important part of the job of food service supervisors. They are expected to maintain knowledge of new products, trends and issues in their work contexts. On a day-to-day basis, they acquire new learning through discussions with co-workers, colleagues, managers, suppliers and customers and by reading newsletters, trade publications, brochures, manuals, policies and legislation. They also attend seminars, workshops and courses offered by their employers and professional associations.