Friday, March 11, 2011

Ramping up

I've been scouting for talent this past week. I will settle for warm bodies if we get close to the start date and I have to, but I'm trying for talent. The only people I know are at St. Philip's, which is just all sorts of pros and cons in itself. A pro: they wouldn't be in culinary school if cooking/baking didn't light up their eyes. A con: our school is not remotely close to the bakery, and generally that holds true for the students attending this school as well. A pro and a con: they are learning cooking/baking techniques. In other words, yay we have some food knowledge. But boo we are all basically students still, entering into a completely new business with owners who do not have a professional culinary background either. A giant con: they're all going to have to be part-time because they are currently students. That means a huge juggle of schedules and more employees needed to fill in the gaps.

Other pros and cons outside the student factor: they are all friends of mine. And every one of the three bakers I have found are people I have worked with in close quarters, in high pressure situations, and for long hours. I have seen them during slow times and stressful times. I have seen how often they skip class (rarely to never) and for what reasons. I have seen AND TASTED the products made by their own hands. I can't think of a better recommendation, a more objective and thorough evaluation, than that of the experience I have shared with these three people.

I know the theory behind why it is difficult to go from being peers to being boss/subordinate. I understand that it's harder to discipline, fire, or give negative feedback to a person that is also a friend. That there may be complaints of favoritism, especially when I have to hire other people that I don't know yet. That I may struggle making the schedule fit around each employee's needs because I want them to have time to spend with their family even though we don't have anyone else to cover that shift. And I know that in the couple of years that I was a manager, my biggest weakness was making my team a family first, a business second. I was lacking the "tough" in "tough love." This is something I absolutely must improve, and now, and always.

For what it's worth, I have weighed all of this carefully and I still wouldn't do it any other way. These people are just too good.