October 15, 2018
The struggle is real

Being a baker is not my dream job

After one too many mishaps at The Queen's Cups and an obvious lack of leadership, it was time to address what was going on. I planned a morning at the spa and yoga class to relax, because at lunch I had to initiate an uncomfortable – yet what turned out to be eye-opening – conversation between myself and my staff.

I voiced my opinion on undesirable situations and behaviors, and I listened to their concerns and feelings. They wanted me to do better as a boss. I acknowledged their feelings, admired their honesty and made changes based on their feedback. Was it easy to hear my faults? No, that sucked; but I left that meeting knowing I was no longer the friend. I was the boss now, and change was on the horizon.

During that meeting, I promoted Alycia Wagner to my kitchen manager. In hindsight, I realize this may have not been the best place to promote her while demoting someone else at the same time. If I could go back, I would have done it in a way that congratulated her for moving up the ladder so quickly within a year. But Alycia handled the promotion with determination and guts. At only 23 years old, she is taking my business to new heights.

The next thing I did was hire an assistant for myself. I met with Alicia Liden three times before hiring her. Each meeting included a longer list of responsibilities, yet after each time, she was more eager to take on the role. She has made our ordering process better than ever, deals with all of our paperwork and human resources, and – most of all – organizes my life.

Next, I removed any negativity from the shop. Whether it be personnel, furniture or equipment I had for a while, it was time to move on and let go. It is never an easy thing to transition someone or something out of your business. It consumed my mind, even though I knew it was the right decision. A fellow entrepreneur reminded me just because someone helped get you to where you are does not mean they are meant to get you where you are going. That bit of advice stuck with me and helped me through difficult situations.

Once I had the right people in the right seats, you could just feel the difference at work. Everything started to fall into place. My staff was happier, and our customers seemed happier too. When I would look at our top-selling items weekly, we were selling more than we ever had. We all had a whole new sense of creativity and respect for one another.

My work, though, was not done. I still work on myself as a person and a boss, but it was refreshing to see the beginning of change happening around me. Alycia was handling the kitchen, allowing me to step out and focus on the business. Alicia took over all of the ordering and customer inquiries for me. I continued the journey on bettering The Queen's Cups, putting in place core values, expectations, a monthly employee newsletter, a crisis team for when things go wrong, a shout-out board to reward jobs well done, and so much more.

Being a baker is not my dream job. My dream job is establishing leaders and mentoring them. I love running my business and allowing my employees to buy in. I love looking at the financials. What sells? What doesn't? I love letting employees know how many items they sold the week before, encouraging them to urge for just a little more for the current week, because I know they can handle it. I love seeing Alycia battle with my dad over what will sell more: Nutella stuffed cookies or pupcakes. I love meeting new people and hearing what brought them into the shop that day. I love the opportunities that have had come my way. I love being mentioned among other established restaurant groups whereas before I did not think I was worthy enough.

Once I started being mindful about my attitude and how I felt about myself, so many great things have landed in my lap. Once I learned to let go, my business started to hang on. It is amazing what we can accomplish when we step outside of our comfort zone. I am so glad I did because I am building leaders, I am mindful and I am excited for what's to come.

Renee Diaz is the owner of The Queen's Cups bakery in Worcester.

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