Look Busy

Curium | 28 Aug 2015 | News | General

Keeping with the theme of my last post I thought I would write about some of my experiences from the jobs I’ve had over the years and pick on some small lessons that seem to be still help me today!

My first job outside the comfort of the Cheese Shop was waiting on tables at a restaurant, which at it’s capacity, was one of the busiest restaurants in Cheshire (or so it felt). Needless to say the jump from serving cheese to juggling table orders, carrying huge trays on one arm and a stand in the other came with it’s challenges.

As someone new to this type of environment it was alien to me. I had gone from a safe environment to a hectic one, and taken back to square one. I was partnered with one of the waitresses there and told to observe how she worked and eventually I would get my bearings.

Now, as someone new to the role the basics weren’t exactly rocket science:


  • Take orders
  • Tell kitchen
  • Take food
  • Clear plates
  • Tell kitchen
  • Give food
  • Clear plates
  • Ask for desert
  • Tell kitchen
  • Take food
  • Clear plates
  • Give bill


Easy.  After a few shifts I started to get the hang of it pretty quickly… apparently.

As someone quick on their feet and who reacts quickly to any task given, I found myself standing around after serving my section of tables and observing them like a hawk waiting to see when they had finished their food so I could kick start the next part of the process.

Whilst I was basking in the glory of successfully ferrying food to and from the kitchen and surveying my happy customers, the management seemed to only pick up on the fact that I was standing around which made me look pretty unproductive… But why?! I had served the tables and was attentively waiting to make my next move… I was on fire!

After a few more Managerial prods, I had started to get fed up and began to wonder how I could change their perception of me.

Having just started this new role and thinking I had known everything, I sought advice from the training partner about how to get management on my side.

The advice I got told was to “look busy”. At first it sounded like a wind up, however, by walking around and trying to look I was keeping busy, so many opportunities were found: tables to wipe, asking if everyone was enjoying their meals, watching drinks levels and by doing so, I had stepped up my wait-on game massively.

Even though I was doing the best I could, I had failed to see the bigger picture! By actively looking for how I could improve when wandering about, I was able to get a massive boost in my performance.

Eventually this behaviour became second habit and I was finding my feet pretty quickly. Management had changed face, and praise seemed to come in abundance.


So restaurant anecdotes aside, how did this apply to where I am now?


When first working with Curium I was introduced to the idea of marginal gains. A large part of the culture here at Curium always involves adding that extra 1% on everything and delivering the extra value when or where it matters most.

Whenever you start to feel complacent or that you’re at the top of your game; don’t kid yourself, there will always be a way you can go that extra mile.

When you start to input this behaviour in life and stick by it, eventually when you look back, you’ll notice that there would have always been tables to wipe, drinks to top up and meals to check.


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