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3 Employee Relations Lessons I Learned in the Kitchen

Source | | Deb Muller

Here are just a few of the things I’ve learned to cook recently: Mustard Braised Chicken with Tarragon. French Apple Cake. Mezze Skewers with Pan-Seared Haloumi Cheese and Roasted Red Peppers. Stone Fruit Shortcake with Roasted Peaches and Plums.

Wait, I thought this was an Employee Relations blog, right?

I’m getting there!

cooking image

We regularly hold interactive events here at HR Acuity, and some of my favorites are our cooking outings with clients and colleagues. We’ve recently hosted culinary evenings in NY, Boston and San Francisco, and they’ve been great fun – a mix of employee relations discussion, kitchen skills and delicious food. (There’s one left this year, on November 12 in Atlanta – message me for details if you’d like to join!)

But in addition to the excellent community and food, what struck me during these events is how similar cooking itself is to employee relations. If you’ll bear with a little corniness – well-grilled and seasoned, of course – here are a few things cordon bleu cuisine and best-practice employee relations have in common.

1) Cooking and ER are both art and science – and both take practice.

As I watched the highly skilled chefs show us how to wield knives, pare vegetables, sear meat and sauté vegetables, I marveled at how easy they made it look. Yet when we tried to duplicate the results ourselves, it wasn’t quite so simple. Their years of training and scientific techniques were obvious.

We did best when we followed the instructors’ leads. For example, instead of randomly chopping, we did better when we used the specific knife skills we learned.

Yet, cooking is also an art, from the just-so spicing to the nuanced timing to presentation. We learned to taste along the way to inspect for doneness to the importance of a beautiful plate.

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