It’s hard to know what topic to choose for Foodie Friday in the middle of Summer.
After all, there is no other time of the year when a cook has so many great ingredients from which to choose. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, zucchini and (it seems) just about everything else are near or at their peak season now. It becomes hard to choose a topic just as it is to choose which to use for dinner.
Of course, the ingredients themselves are a theme we’ve hit before. I’ve written about being choosy and not settling for an inferior product, either in the kitchen or in the office. Today I want to write about the corollary to great ingredients: not getting in their way.
Obviously you can’t put basil fresh from the garden next to a perfect tomato and buffalo mozzarella and expect a brilliant caprese salad to put itself together. You still need to do some work and add a bit (and only a bit) of salt, acid, and great olive oil. But, as the italian phrase goes, non troppo – not too much. Overdressing or over seasoning the great basics just gets in the way of their flavors. You want to bring those flavors out, not hide them. Slices of zucchini and other summer vegetables perfectly sliced and roasted can be a fantastic meal. Bake them in layers and cover them in cheese and you might get a tasteless, soggy mess of a gratin.
It’s the same with your team. Find the best people, educate them on your goals, help fill in their skill set where necessary, and then get out of the way. You want to manage them but non troppo – not too much. How many of us have worked for a micro-manager who wants things done his or her way even if they’re wrong? How often are you sitting around having drinks after work with your peers and the discussion uncovers widespread unhappiness with how the team is being used? The better that team is the more likely that they have skill sets in certain areas that are superior to those of their supervisor in those areas. As managers, we want those people on our team. They’re not threats – they’re our salvation.
I love cooking in Summer since there’s less I have to do. It’s more about the shopping than it is the cooking. Great managing is that way – it’s almost more about the hiring than it is the managing. You need to manage, but non troppo. You with me?