culture and cuisine

I worked for a small restaurant for a few months in order to gain some work experience before graduation. I have realized that culture and cuisine can really shape the vision of my career in the future.

  • Internal organization analysis:

From the organizational diagnosis, it can be seen that I am able to learn much more while working for a small organization because I am encouraged to participate in almost every area of the business. Because The Hibiscus Tree is a small restaurant in Adelaide City, I have been involved in many aspects of this business: I have worked as a kitchen hand, a waitress, a marketing strategist and an online marketing specialist. Since the business owner has been running traditional businesses for many years, they are not very familiar with Internet marketing which is crucial in this day and age. As I am a digital native rather than a digital immigrant, I have a very good understanding of how modern technologies work. Additionally, apart from my standard learning at Le Cordon Bleu, I have also studied a variety of online programs about strategic marketing, Internet marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO); hence, I have the knowledge and skills to contribute to the business growth of The Hibiscus Tree in a positive manner.

As to the organizational structure and interpretation, it is clear that the Mission of the organization is to be the most influential Sichuan restaurant in Adelaide, South Australia; the Vision of the organization is to promote Sichuan cuisine as well as Chinese culture internationally; the Values of the organization are quality, satisfaction and authenticity.

Using Mintzberg’s framework, it is manifest that The Hibiscus Tree has five components, i.e., the Strategic Apex, the Middle Line, the Technostructure, the Support Staff and the Operating Core (Mintzberg 1983). More exactly, the director of The Hibiscus Tree Iris Huang is the Strategic Apex in this organization; the Operations Manager is the Middle Line and the Technostructure of the organization; I am the Support Staff; all waiters, waitresses (including me), kitchen hands (including me) and chefs are the Operating Core of the restaurant. Because The Hibiscus Tree is a small organization, it does not have a big team. Interestingly, its everyday operation is highly efficient because of the small and agile team.

In terms of the systems, The Hibiscus Tree utilizes a loyalty tracking system in order to measure the customer satisfaction – customers complete a survey on WeChat (The Hibiscus Tree’s social media account). Besides, customers write Google reviews online, too. These tools have helped the restaurant to gain deep insights into customers’ opinions and behavior. Apart from customer satisfaction, staff satisfaction is also paramount; therefore, the business owner of The Hibiscus Tree has established a reward system which is linked to the restaurant’s financial performance so as to motivate employees regularly.

Xero is a bookkeeping and accounting software which helps The Hibiscus Tree to automate its financial management. This is a highly effective way to streamline the process of measuring the restaurant’s financial performance every month.

What’s more, recently The Hibiscus Tree has been using reusable and compostable items because the South Australian government has banned plastic cutlery. In this way, whenever customers order takeaways, compostable and reusable items display The Hibiscus Tree’s genuine respect for the environment. This new initiative makes customers feel that The Hibiscus Tree not only cares about their customers, but also cares about the planet. Thus, this approach helps the business to build a positive reputation in the hospitality industry, thereby facilitating its word-of-mouth marketing.

culture and cuisine

  • The primary risk management system includes insurance and complying with Occupational Health & Safety rules

The Hibiscus Tree has several backup plans for disasters such as the current global pandemic, e.g., selling more takeaways and cooperating with food delivery services like Uber Eats and Door Dash in Adelaide. Apparently, diversifying a business’s approaches is a good way to properly manage a crisis like COVID-19.

Because The Hibiscus Tree is a small restaurant in the city of Adelaide, interactions between different departments of the organization are handy and frequent. Although my role is the waitress and the kitchen hand, I have been involved in business management and marketing of the organization as well, for the team is quite small. Communication lines in the organization are crystal clear: the Supporting Staff and the Operating Core report to the Middle Line (the Operations Manager); the Operations Manager reports to the Strategic Apex (Iris Huang, the director of the restaurant). The management team consists of the director and the Operations Manager – their responsibilities include managing big strategies, monitoring the daily operations of the restaurant as well as supervising the entire team. The Support Staff and the Operating Core are responsible for the basic jobs and administrative tasks.

Interpersonal skills play a key role in the hospitality industry (Kotler & Keller 2015). From this placement, I have honed my interpersonal skills in a practical fashion. If I can use a business analogy, I would argue that my knowledge and technical skills are just like a product, whilst my interpersonal skills are like the marketing. To be more precise, a high-quality product requires effective marketing; otherwise, it will not sell. In other words, in order to use my knowledge and technical skills fully, I must have excellent interpersonal skills. That is the best way to stand out and be outstanding. That being said, if the quality of the product is low, fantastic marketing will not work. That is to say, I have to make sure that my knowledge and technical skills are solid and strong, and then I can use my interpersonal skills to monetize my knowledge and technical skills in my future career in the tourism and hospitality industry.

So far, I have significantly improved my communication skills after practicing my interpersonal skills in the workplace over several months and studying human dynamics expert Matthew Hussey’s Impact program online. Being a highly effective communicator has helped me to provide high-quality customer service as customer service is actually about communication. Therefore, these two goals are literally intertwined and I think I have fully achieved these two goals. It seems that my goals will change for my future career because this is the end of my placement and it is time to set new goals for the future.

 “Based on the Competing Values Approach, I would like to set brand-new goals. That’s my conclusion regarding how culture and cuisine can inform my future career plans.”