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Recruiting in your own image

I enjoy watching Gordon Ramsay's The F Word - not for the man himself, but this series has been particularly interesting for me because of the search for the best local restaurant.  I've eaten several times in two of the 6 restaurants on the short list - The Pheasant in Keyston, Cambridgeshire and Sweet Mandarin in Manchester.

Last night was the first semi-final, with 3 restaurants competing to go through to the final. Sweet Mandarin were knocked out at the first hurdle after the secret diner found their service lacking.  That left Santa Maria del Sur, an Argentinian restaurant in Battersea, London and Lasan, an Indian restaurant in Birmingham.  The remaining two challenges involved serving a meal within 2 hours for 30 customers with high expectations and cooking a main course at Gordon's restaurant in Royal Hospital Road.  Both were very challenging tasks, especially with Gordon hovering all the time, hassling them and watching like a hawk.

The young Argentinan chef, Ernesto, from Santa Maria del Sur, performed well on both tasks, completing the service for 30 people well ahead of schedule and producing a simple yet delicious dish that was praised by the customers in Gordon's restaurant, whilst remaining calm, cheerful and demonstrating excellent teamwork.  Gordon said he could not fault him.

Meanwhile Lasan's chef, Aktar, produced exciting food for both tasks, whilst his approach to teamwork left a lot to be desired.  Several of the 30 customers left a large amount of food because they found the sauce was too spicy.  Aktar also had a couple of run-ins with Gordon, but showed his vulnerability after receiving Gordon's straight feedback on the final task.

And it was Gordon himself who had to choose the winner.

And who won?  Whilst sitting with crossed fingers hoping that Ernesto would win, I felt confident that Gordon would choose Aktar.  And indeed he did!  Why?  Because Aktar is just a younger version of Gordon himself.  I imagine that Ernesto and his colleagues at Santa Maria del Sur felt robbed, but were probably too nice to say so.   During the series I have noticed that he is particularly critical of people who display similar traits to his own!

This is a common occurrence, of course.  People like people like themselves. But often a role or situation needs different skills, character traits or behaviours.  That is why it is important to assess in advance the skills and attributes you need for the role and a good idea to have more than one person on a selection panel.

I will be interested to see how Gordon makes his decision in the next semi final tonight - and who he chooses as overall winner.  My bet is for a final between Aktar and Jay of The Pheasant, with Aktar winning. 

(By the way, it's great to see that Sir Alan has chosen Karren Brady as successor to Margaret - I am a great fan of hers).


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