At 12, I started working as a kitchen porter at a local hotel.
[Yep, 12. It was run by my best friend’s mum and dad, and they were big fans of illegal child labour!]
First day – I absolutely hated it. I was doing cutlery, and can vividly remember how utterly bored I was. But I worked in that kitchen every year until I left school at 18. [I eventually moved on from cutlery. The high point was being allowed to dish up spuds…]
Why did I stay?
It definitely helped that we were paid decently. But I could have earned more in other jobs [and not been so sweaty].
The reason I stayed for seven consecutive seasons was the people.
The actual work was repetitive and dull – but the team were awesome. Our boss was amazing at bringing us all together. Somehow, she made loading a dishwasher and mopping the floor fun. Not only that – we took pride in our work. That kitchen sparkled after every service.
How did she do it?
Looking back, I can see lots of little things she did. She set clear expectations and was always fair. She didn’t shy away from difficult conversations when they were needed and never lost her cool. She held us all accountable to her, to the guests, and to each other.
Perhaps most importantly – she led by example. While she was definitely the boss, she never shied away from getting stuck in if needed, whether that was loading the dishwasher or helping out behind the bar or managing the occasional disgruntled guest.
She cared about us, and so we cared about our work.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re running a small hotel on the Isle of Wight, or a global tech company – your people matter.