Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen

We’ve all been there – you are working on a project you thought was yours, but then your boss got involved, and he brought in a person from another department, and they brought their coordinator, who has an intern…..and they all have different ideas on how this project should run.

So how do you get a sous chef, saute chef, pastry chef and assistants in your kitchen without burning the food?

There always needs to be a leader in any situation and good communication is key. If you feel like your toes are getting stepped on, then you need to assert yourself. During discussions, take the bulk of the tasks on yourself – you can always delegate later, but I’ve found it is important the boss knows “hey, this is my baby and I am serious about seeing this through.”

I’ve discovered that the reason people “nose in” a project is because:

1. they aren’t sure/aware of the goals

2. they aren’t sure of you

3. they just want to be heard

Hear the group out, assure them of your passion and undying attention to the project and lay out the goals, objectives and how the project will be evaluated for success. The person who brings the plan to the table is usually the winner as it makes you look serious.  Now, they may pick apart your plan, but nine times out of 10, no one else brought anything to the table anyway.

When all else fails, wait it out.  Things change. People get bored with projects and find something new to stick their nose in or, like panning for gold, the nuggets of goodness float to the top and shine. (In case you didn’t know, you are the gold nugget in that analogy.)

Next time you have a project with “too many cooks in the kitchen,” embrace it and realize it is an opportunity for you to be a star.


  1. Dawn Ellis on July 14, 2010 at 9:52 am

    Too funny and too true. I like to complete those types of projects by delivering the best dessert..

  2. Tammy on July 14, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    That’s good advice, Michelle. Of course, the implementation phase is where the big girls get separated from the little girls.

    Now, what do you do when you have a monster project and all the cooks, wait staff, maître d’, busboys…everyone ditches you like it’s a failed night in Hell’s Kitchen?

  3. Michelle on July 15, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    ahh….that’s a whole ‘nother blog post: “Stranded on Project Island” That’s why you never make enemies at work – you always need someone’s help at some point in time.