An interesting article in the New York Times about the toxic work culture in the fine dining scene, written by someone who left Noma disappointed in 2015, caught my attention. He wrote, "It was my first experience working with people who devoted their lives to serving others—who loved their work so much that they dedicated their waking hours to feeding strangers, who poured their passion and love for the craft onto each plate..., working when everyone else was playing, coming home each night too tired to feed themselves but waking up every morning to do it all again." By the time I left Noma, he continued, "I had internalized the mantra that everything we did was for our guests. But I couldn't help wondering why catering to them needed to come at the expense of our team's welfare and dignity, a cruel trade-off."
I fully subscribe to his conclusion: "The key ingredient to a phenomenal dining experience should be a high-quality workplace environment for those bringing your meal to life." At YouConnect, we also attach great importance to a healthy and appealing company culture, which we believe is the basic ingredient for our consultants to deliver quality service to our customers. We try to create a transparent, safe, and pleasant environment where people can learn from their mistakes, and where each team member can keep developing his or her personal skills and grow successfully as a professional.
Like in the fine dining industry, we consider it our mission to put the client and candidate central. We thrive on the casting aspect of our job, which requires us to take into account many different elements, including candidates' preferences regarding company and team culture. These preferences can diverge from working for a highly structured and process-driven multinational company to a more entrepreneurial role of building a structured department, becoming a contributor in a small, cohesive team, or becoming a specialized expert in a team where atmosphere and bonding are much less important.
A perfect meal translated to our industry means a successful connection and collaboration. In addition to the search for hard and soft skills (e.g., a candidate with 5 years of similar relevant experience who is also an empathic person with well-developed leadership skills), we use our intuition and creativity. Our intuition takes into account implicitly communicated preferences in team culture, the personality, and character of both the candidate and the new manager. And some creativity is needed to nudge the two parties towards a decision to collaborate. We doubt that artificial intelligence, which obviously offers our industry many opportunities for enhancing efficiency, can create such a well-rounded and detailed casting. Human qualities like intuition and creativity are not likely to become automated soon.
Let me head back to the fine dining industry. I recently had a negative experience in a restaurant where the dessert was presented as being the result of food-pairing software. As feedback, I gave to the chef: "The taste was definitely good, but personally, I don't like the idea of software creating my meal. Let's keep cherishing the creativity of the chef!"
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