It’s probably no surprise that my kitchen sports a healthy cookbook collection. I love the colorful images and flavorful descriptions. I have those specializing in regional cuisine (Louisiana, China the Beautiful, A Spanish Village), restaurant collections (Coyote Cafe, Greens, Manhattan Chili Company), food themes (Vegetarian Nights or Raw Food) and those describing individual specialty foods like Waffles, Pizza or Ice Cream.
I also have a pile of favorites stitched together by various school groups or women’s organizations such as Harstine Island Cooks or Seasoned with the Sun. Today as I’m flipping through the pages of the Silver Palate Good Times, I’m smiling at the occasional kitchen splatter and the comments that I’ve scratched in the margins over the years.
I like these notes not only because they bring back a memory of a family dinner or in one case, a meal gone bad but they provide me feedback that I’m able to use as a barometer of change going forward. And someday, if Kindles and the internet haven’t wiped out the use of cookbooks entirely, perhaps my notes will add value to the contents as my sons’ and their families create holiday meals.
Perhaps I’m being simplistic but what strikes me as ironic is how applicable this is in the workplace. Taking the time to offer up brief but direct feedback in a specific situation is incredible added value for employees. By telling an employee what was good and what could’ve “baked a bit longer” on a frequent basis, we have the opportunity to not only improve performance for the next time but also offer a long-term gift of employee development.
The Gallup organization has a tool used to measure employee engagement called the Q12. Within the tool, one particular question reads; I have received feedback from my leader in the past 7 days. That can be hard but if we think about jotting a few comments in the margins of a cookbook and we offer it up frequently, we have an incredible opportunity. Employees, peers, even leaders become more engaged with feedback and they have real examples from which to work rather than attempting the unsavory and impossible task of managing perceptions. And our colleagues don’t have to wait for a mid-year or annual performance review but small specific examples that offer opportunities for life long growth.
Where can you begin jotting notes in the margins?
- 6 medium zucchini (sliced lengthwise into long slices 3/8 inch thick)
- 12 crimini mushrooms (cleaned and sliced)
- 1.5 tsp salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
- 2 Tbs chopped fresh marjoram
Prepare a hot grill. Toss zucchini and mushrooms with salt, pepper and oil. Grill, turning once until slightly brown and tender (about 5 minutes). Return to a bowl and let cool to room temperature. Gently toss with vinegar and sprinkle with more salt and pepper. Transfer to your serving dish and sprinkle with fresh marjoram. Take notes on what you enjoyed and would change and add them to the comments!