Standards and a loaf of bread

Image credit: Sliced bread with bread buns on a wooden board by Raphotography

I’ve just returned from a few days in Belgium.  A few days that were thought- provoking, emotionally wrenching at times and down-right disturbing.  Yep, we were visiting the WW1 battlefields.  More about that in other posts.

Today I want to tell you a story about bread.

Bread and standards.

It’s a trivial little story which hopefully makes a big point.  Punching above its weight, you see.

My partner (In world identity: George Flarran) and I decided to splash out on our last evening and enjoy some fine dining.  We found a beautiful restaurant, specialising in fresh local ingredients and first class service.  It’s the sort of place where the chef comes to your table to explain all the elements of the dish in front of you. Yes!  That good!

The food was delicious and we appreciated having the whole evening to talk and reflect on our trip, in such stylish surroundings.

During the evening one of the waiting staff brought us more bread.  Unasked.  And very carefully, using tongs, the bread was set down on the table along with butter and salt.

All good.  But George was not happy.  You see he had been watching as this staff member held the loaf of bread and cut it into slices behind the counter.  With their hands.  No cloth over the bread, no gloves on hands.  Which sorts of makes the tongs redundant at the table, don’t you think?

I know it’s a small thing.  But tongs and hands?  Really?

It made me reflect on other instances at work where we are out of step.  Or to put it more bluntly – where our actions fail to live up to the standards that are expected and often stated.  Organisations publish values, mission statements and other worthy documents. And we test those statements by looking for the gap between what has been stated and our actual experience. When we experience a short fall we feel disappointed and let down. We lose trust.

Where is that happening in your workplace? Ask your staff and coachees what small action they can take today to ensure standards are met, even when the work is ‘behind the counter’. Small things, big impact.

No tongs required.


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