Much like people, businesses have their own personalities. They tend to reflect the philosophies of those at the the top and can range from very tightly regimented and organized, to the loose and carefree. There are successful examples of the full spectrum of management styles and as the world evolves many new styles are appearing almost daily. Our generation is witnessing a full scale change in the way people view the work environment and their own work ethic. Our peers saw an increase in self-owned businesses and entrepreneurship. We grew up in the hey-day of the IPOs and absorbed the concept that smart choices, sacrifice, and hard work, in that order, will earn you millions of dollars if you're willing to pay the price. These days most of us aren't willing to sacrifice everything to the almighty dollar, although the option still exists. We learned that school is not always the answer and that student loans eventually have to be paid off, no matter what your real world salary turns out to be. The last ten years have shown us that credit is so important. Credit card debt has been the downfall of more than one acquaintance over the years. We saw that you can't have it all, no matter what people tell you. If you spend all of your time at work your family life will suffer whether you're willing to acknowledge it or not. All those years without sick days or vacations or personal health days will never come back. So they had better be worth it.
We are very lucky in that we were exposed to both the old school style of hard work and hard knocks and the newer so-called "Me Generation". We saw what happened when people slaved away for years and then watched their pensions evaporate in a plume of embezzlement and bad management. In the culinary world we have seen the transition from a system of apprenticeship to a much shorter system of schooling. The debate rages on endlessly as to which system produces the better cooks. We still believe it's not the system, it's the individual. The cream always rises no matter where you leave it to set. We do our best to evaluate a chef on his or her talents and execution, rather than on their pedigree and PR. Almost certainly unconscious preconceptions and partialities color our views, and we do our best to judge on actual merit whenever possible. The older we get the more we understand how important our own life experiences have been in shaping our own culinary efforts.
Recently I've been working through some issues with management styles. I've been asking a lot of questions that aren't always appreciated. This is not because I don't understand what is being asked of me. I ask questions because I want to understand why I am asked to do things that I may not comprehend fully or agree with. Truthfully this is not always a positive characteristic in an employee and I can try to be more sensitive to that. I've been blessed to work for a series of businesses that never minded my asking why, because my understanding allowed me to do my job more appropriately and more efficiently. I can fulfill my duties better if I understand the reason behind a request because that will tell me what the real priorities are. Sometimes a job description includes everything except polishing door knobs and there's no way to know which tasks are the important ones until you dive in. Sometimes a job is more than what's listed in the job description. Sometimes it's not. Life is a lot easier when you know exactly where you stand.