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Why professionals should be more like bakers and less like chefs

Everyone can appreciate the art, skill and talent that goes into making an exquisite meal. It’s why people pay nearly $40 for the famous Petite Filet Mignon at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in Charleston, SC. The thing literally melts in your mouth. The same is true for dessert. There is a reason why more than 350 people stand in line at the Dominique Ansel Bakery in New York City every morning—it’s because his invention of the cronut (half croissant, half donut)—is the most decadent thing you’ll ever taste.

Both chefs and bakers put an enormous amount of skill and creativity into their respective crafts. But what makes them different from each other? As it turns out, their expertise requires them to have completely different processes and personalities. As we examine the differences between chefs and bakers, it’s easy to see why professionals should be more like bakers and less like chefs.

Tweaking vs. measuring

Chefs may have a recipe that they follow, but they modify ingredients as they go. They add a “pinch” of this or a “dash” of that to adjust the flavor. Bakers must precisely measure each ingredient and explicitly follow each recipe by the book.

In business, it makes sense for professionals to have a plan (or ‘recipe’) for success, because following proper processes means achieving better outcomes.

Intuition vs. science

Chefs rely on gut instinct. They may decide to experiment with ingredients, cooking times and seasoning. Bakers cannot deviate or compromise on ingredients because science dictates how the ingredients react. For example, not enough flour means the dough will not rise properly. Melted butter produces a different result than butter that is simply room temperature. When it comes to achieving your goals in the workplace, you have to understand how each professional action (or ‘ingredient’) ultimately affects your success.

When you cut corners or improvise processes, you may see flat or dry numbers when examining your bottom line.

Anxious vs. calm

Chefs typically have rugged and aggressive personalities. Think about Gordon Ramsay, host of Hell’s Kitchen, known for making even the best chefs cry. You rarely see reality TV shows with bakers who are hostile about their work. That’s because bakers are typically very calm and take their time.

Think about your clients at work. Do you think they would rather work with an aggravated associate or a composed colleague?

When you think about how to conduct yourself in the workplace, consider being more like a baker. Sure, chefs may work faster and may get more work done, but this also allows for a bigger margin of error. In the end, you will experience more success if you have a plan, understand how attention to detail affects your success, and practice the patience you ultimately need to build lasting relationships.

What do you think about this analogy for the workplace? Let us know your thoughts by tweeting us at @PointOneRecruit today!

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Scott Petersen President, owner
After 4 years as an active duty US Army soldier doing tours across the globe, Scott decided that life as an intelligence professional was not conducive to raising his boys. The first job Scott interviewed for was as a recruiter and 15 years later he owns and manages one of the most respected executive search firms in the country. PointOne Recruiting has earned that respect by truly understanding the work they do changes people’s lives.

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