Who doesn’t love cakes? I passed a patisserie early on the weekend, and marveled at the wonderful variety on display – a work of art! Pastry chefs do this virtually every day, in so many similar places and it’s always good.
Shouldn’t we all bring a little of this dedication and craft to our work?
When we consider the work attributes of C.A.K.E.S. (Consistency, Attitude, Knowledge, Efficiency and Skills), there’s a great deal to these vital ingredients that merit unpacking.
This means being reliable, getting it right, reaching the required standard. It doesn’t mean being moody, late, or unpredictable in how helpful you might be. Taking consistency a step further, it means you have trained and practised to the point where you really can deliver your work fairly seamlessly.
Consistency is a form of discipline, and those who demonstrate it are the most admired and respected people in a team. Those who are aware of it and strive to achieve it, deliver as promised and feel pleased when they deliver on time and get the great results.
Just as skunks can be detected over a kilometre away, so too can an attitude. Bad attitudes are like skunks – people want little to do with you and feel very dragged down by negativity.
So be positive, willing to help, caring, open and enthusiastic. Be true to yourself, but in a good way that benefits everyone else.
Skills and knowledge are not necessarily synonymous. Knowledge means being well-informed over and above what your KPIs or core competencies require. Are you investing in some additional development? Which media, books, YouTube videos, podcasts and news outfits are you absorbing? Do you belong to special interest networks, or go to seminars or catch up on TED talks? What evaluations do you conduct of your strategies and products in order to improve? Are you tracking the social media conversations around your company? Are you monitoring competitors (in a healthy fashion)? How can you make your world a better place?
Take pride in being someone who has factual answers, knows about competitors, has found out about changing legislation or technology – not just a person dishing out assumptions, predictions and uninformed opinions.
Efficiency is related to consistency, but means completing things promptly, whatever the timeframe. It also means striving to get it right first time, not redoing things and wasting time and money. It’s wonderful watching things being done efficiently (a great feeling too when it’s you). Efficiently usually means to be done in a timely and effective way. No use whipping up a cake in five minutes’ flat if you’ve forgotten an essential ingredient. One bite after it’s baked and everyone simply looks at each other (or anyone but the chef). Efficiency is admirable and always desirable, but not enough on its own.
These are essential – you must know how to do things. You can read all the cookbooks you like, but if you haven’t started to actually cook, then you don’t possess the necessary skills. You might be well aware that fluffy egg whites are requisite for a chocolate mousse, but unless you know how to separate eggs properly, then the least bit of yolk will interfere with the whites’ ability to form soft clouds when you beat them. Workplaces are no different.
Make the time to develop the skills and as many as you can. A chef doesn’t possess one skill – they have developed hundreds. That’s why we have master chefs.
Put your aprons on right now!
Eve Ash is a psychologist, author, filmmaker, public speaker and entrepreneur. She runs Seven Dimensions, a company specialising in training resources for the workplace.
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