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In professional tennis, you get to hold the champion’s trophy when you have won the game, set and match. In manufacturing, managers win when they successfully accomplish the skill set match.

One of the trickiest things to do in the bakery is to match up the right skills of the workforce to the needs of production or, in the case of maintenance, to the specific craft needed to improve plant results.

The starting place can be simply to understand three key elements of the person you are evaluating for the role you have in mind: character, confidence and desire to be challenged.

The first element is character. What has this person demonstrated in their daily activities. Are they a self-starter? Are they focused and have they accomplished what they have set out to do? In this element, you are getting a good idea of their work ethic.

The second place to look is at confidence,  or their general competency and understanding of the craft they are in. This is usually indicated through written and/or bench testing. With a written test, you can get a feel of how they think and for the depth of their capacity to learn more. The bench test, or live test, can be used to put advanced levels of activity in front of them to see how they react. The result of this exercise can show you their ability to take on bigger tasks.

The third element is challenge. Here, you can have a heart to heart with them and ask about their ambitions. Talk about where they would like to go in their career and what they might feel they could do more of now. Sometimes the best performers on a crew — be it production, maintenance or sanitation — do not want to accomplish any more than they already have. Many times, you can’t even entice these people into taking on more than they already do. Some people are content doing what they do, day in and day out. By sitting down and talking with them, you will determine those who are driven to be challenged and want to grow in their skills and within the company.

A tool you can use to go through all of these steps would be an assessment matrix that you would custom-tailor to your organization, department or crew. The more specific you make this, the better the assessment results will be. You can draft up a table that identifies a section for basic skills required, and another for specific skills needed to accomplish what their role is today. Lastly, you could identify those items that would be needed to take a person to their next level.

Once you get through the assessment with an individual and you know their character, their confidence level and their desire to be challenged, you will be able to match them up to a role that takes your team to a world-class performance level.