When it comes to hiring people, I always go for attitude! I hire for attitude as it is much more important than skills. You can train anyone and teach anything, but you can’t train someone in a great attitude.
Suanti and me in Kota KInabalu in 2017. She was one of our new hires and performed great from the beginning!
This is my experience and I’ve always followed my own rule. True, for certain jobs you need certain qualifications, but still, you can train anyone on the job. It is called learning by doing. It is the apprenticeship method. You can have a very skilled and experienced person, but if their attitude sucks, nobody is helped. And it is questionable if highly skilled and experienced people can have a poor attitude at all.
When I hired, I very often hired young and inexperienced people, mostly even fresh graduates, straight from culinary school. Why? Because their minds were still like sponges, you could mold and form them to your liking. They absorbed everything you trained them in much quicker. Developing new habits went faster and more effectively.
When you work with people who’ve been long time in the business, or when you have guys with a bunch of bad habits, good luck in getting rid of those bad habits. It can be done, but you will have some work cut out to achieve that. When you hire inexperienced people, you must train them, yes. And that is your job! Someone with a great attitude and the willingness to learn, push and grow, will catch up and do so quickly. No issues. The attitude is the guarantee here. It’s good for the team and good for the employee.
Great memories connect me to these people I hired and promoted. I was mostly right with my gut feeling and decision about their potential. I have people in my network I have developed over the years from bottom to top. They are still leading kitchen teams today. That shows me that my instinct and my ability to judge human talent was and still is very much there.
Judging human talent is one of the greatest skills and particularly important in a professional kitchen and in life.
Chefing is a team sport, so without your team you are nothing, you will not achieve anything. Chefing is like playing chess. For every role and position in the kitchen there is a different person. Everybody has a different stack of skills and talents. Everybody has a different personality. You must be able to judge as precisely as you can and place your people in the right positions.
Not everybody can work at the same spot. The ability to judge human talent in the kitchen is one of the greatest strengths. Most of the time I’ve been right about the decisions I made. It takes me a few hours only to get a relatively clear picture of a person, how they work, behave and what kind of attitude they display. I can tell whether a person will be of benefit to the team.
So how to tell?
I think my intuition has developed over the decades as well as my experience in general. You get a feeling for people. I can just guess at how many people I have worked with during my career so far, but it must be thousands. When you have worked with thousands of people, then you develop a sense for them. You also must think quickly and with great flexibility.
Thanks for reading my post!
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