Finally Friday! That’s the good news – more snow is the bad. We, however, will focus on food as is our custom to end the week.
There’s a show on the Food Network called Worst Cooks in America. The premise of the program is that 2 professional chefs teach incompetent amateur cooks basic culinary skills and if the amateurs don’t learn they get tossed off the show. Not that I’m a pro, but the contestants they brought to the program seem to have trouble making toast or peanut butter sandwiches. The show is fun even if one wants to feel a bit better about one’s own meager skills but it turns out there was a business lesson as well.
These folks really can’t cook. The chef/judges had them make something before the instruction began and it wasn’t pretty. Amazingly, however, after a bit of instruction most of them were better and you could begin to see that what was lacking wasn’t intelligence or dexterity in most cases but knowledge. How to organize. How to reduce a sauce. And that’s the business lesson.
The skills to do good work are there for most people – it’s good instruction and motivation that are lacking. In this case, there is a $25,000 prize as well as keeping loved ones away from the poisoning hot-line to serve as motivation. In the case of your work there are things such as paychecks and benefits which motivate (and hopefully some sense of fulfillment as well!). How much time is spent on instruction? How much time on how to organize or attack a problem? Probably not a whole lot since everyone is too short-staffed and too busy to devote enough time to it.
Take these quotes from some of the formerly worst cooks and think about them in business terms:
I learned that cooking doesn’t have to be a stressful experience and that not everyone is the perfect cook. The goal is to improve each time and hopefully I’ll get to a point where I can actually make a full meal without feeling like I just had a nervous breakdown.
Preparation and organization – it makes everything else easier.
We expect our employees (and maybe ourselves?) to be perfect and we don’t teach them how to be so. That’s the source of the stress in many cases, and when it’s coupled with a feeling that improvement has to be an immediate leap from 1 to 10 rather than a gradual upward change, it can be devastating.