Baking&Snack - November 2016 - 102

DEFINING a Skill Set
Look for those personal attributes that separate
the best job candidate from all the others.


This year's educational program at the 2016 International
Baking Industry Exposition was nothing short of exceptional with 91 different sessions. The comprehensive
program featured something for everyone - from cake
decorating, 3-D cake design and preparing for the Food
Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) to enhancing energy
efficiency, improving coaching skills, and understanding
and embracing millennials. Beyond the essential industry updates necessary to maintaining our currency in the
regulatory world and consumer trends that affect us all,
there was a very common theme to this year's program -
skills enhancement.
A skill is a very important personal attribute. By definition, it requires the ability that comes from training,
experience or practice. It denotes one's ability to do
something well, to have knowledge and expertise to perform a particular job or task. We are all employed for
the skills we bring to our jobs and are accountable for
our ability to apply and use these skills.
But describing a job is where the discussion of skills
gets a bit messy. Commonly, when we talk about a job,
we define the tasks to be performed, not the skills needed by the individual.
Here are some relatively common points, taken from
actual job description postings found online, for various open positions in our industry. They include: "Plan
and direct resources - manpower, ingredients and
equipment - to ensure efficient production of con-

102 Baking & Snack November 2016 /

sistent quality products. Effectively lead team members through empowerment, collaboration, support,
motivation, flexibility and enthusiasm. Meet financial
goals: manage costs / adhere to budget and seek innovative ways to reduce costs." Another wants an individual to "perform training on quality and food safety,
and ensure all equipment is maintained and operated
according to established sanitary and housekeeping
The problem with these points is that they represent
tasks to be managed and neglect to address the essential skills needed to perform the task. Employee performance reviews are often compared against their job
standards - or tasks - and the objectives agreed to for
that review period. It is only when the discussion turns
to areas of opportunity or needs that the employee is to
address within the next review period that any discussion of skills takes place.
But, what if the various tasks were evaluated for the
skills required to perform that task, and then those skill
levels were the point of the evaluation? Wouldn't that result in a very different and meaningful discussion? Let's
consider another job description that searched for individuals who would "plan and direct resources - manpower,
ingredients and equip - to ensure efficient production of
consistent quality products." It's clear there are several key
components to this statement: process expertise, planning
capability, managing people, knowledge of the equipment,

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Baking&Snack - November 2016