We have watched the Hell’s kitchen Reality show Season 3 Episode 1 Part 4 and 5. In this reality show there is a chef, who controls teams’ work. There are two teams: Red and Blue. Red team’s members are women and Blue team’s members are men. In each team there are 6 members. These two teams are competing to be the best of the day and to cook all together 50 appetizers to the clients. Both teams are working in the competitive environment and under very hard time-pressure, trying to cook more appetizers than the competing team.
We decided to observe the members of the Red team, because the team-environment in this group gives more material for review and consideration in the framework of the Organizational Behavior.
So, in the Read team there are six members and all of them are women: Tiffany, Joanna, Julia, Melissa, Bonnie and one more women (her name was not mentioned). They are trying to cook food in time for clients of the restaurant. It seems that all of them see the only objective of the team – the speed of cooking and how to overcome the Blue team.
After discussing the case and comparing opinions of our team, we came to the following outcomes:
- Overall impression on the Red team work: We think that they do not work as a team. They are working as individuals. Each of them wants to do her work herself (“to be in the spot-light”) and to show to Chef that she can do it without someone’s help.
- Strengths and weaknesses of the Red team: Strength of the team is that they cook a delicious meal (the opinion of the clients, who tried their appetizers) and the whole team obeys any guidelines of the Chef. Weaknesses are several:
- The greatest weakness of the team is the rough attitude to each other. For example, when Julia wanted to help Tiffany, in making fried eggs, the latter didn’t accept her help. She just said: “If you can keep dropping apples that would be awesome”. Another example, when Joanna intervenes in Melissa’s work (cooking spaghetti) without asking her permission. These examples are evidences that within the team very poor relationship between team members and also confirms that they cannot work as one team;
- Unclear split of the responsibilities among the team members (e.g. Julia has nothing to do and decided to help to Tiffany to cook the eggs. But Tiffany instead has thought that Julia “wants to pull out of the whole team because she wants to have 2 minutes in the spotlights”);
- Not using the strengths of the team members when devising the job (e.g. somebody has special skills in cooking spaghetti, but this job is given to somebody else, who is not as good in this etc.);
- Lack of leader in the team;
- Lack of understanding that if somebody is appointed as a team-leader, so everybody should listen to her and implement all orders she gives without starting arguing with her (“if you are not going to listen to someone in charge, when Chef puts him in charge, so what’s the point?”);
- Lack of team-spirit, when everybody should understand importance of the end result and that sometimes someone should obey to the team-leader’s decision, even if she does not agree with it – because time is too valuable to loose it on useless arguments;
- The team-leader tries to “push everybody’s buttons” (as she behaved with Joanna, rather than split the jobs and control the outcomes);
- They do not respect each other, e.g. Joanna sets up everybody when the Chef asks whether “they are arguing again”, answering to him“ Yes, Chef, they are!”;
- Lack of common understanding of the standards: Within the team there are two members who have prejudice in cooking spaghetti. One member (Melissa) said that spaghetti is overcooked, while other member (Joanna) thinks that spaghetti is perfect. They did not come to the consensus. Melissa just did as she thought was right.
- Biggest problem of the Red team: Lack of understanding of the team-work, respect to each other and willingness to work as a team. The biggest problem of the red team is the communication within the team. They do not listen to each other, do not accept advices from other team members, because each of them want to accomplish their individual goals, to show that they are more capable to run the kitchen than others.
- List of solutions how to improve the work of the Red team:
- Identify everybody’s strengths and weaknesses;
- Easing the fear and creating a better atmosphere in the Kitchen.
- Clearly split of responsibilities among the team members, using everyone’s strengths;
- Agree on the rule that the team-leader is “a king” – when he/she says something, everybody obeys, and does not start arguing;
- In the mean-time agree that the team-leader should not control every movement of the team members when the jobs are split, but controls everyone’s outcome and overall result of the team;
- The chef to explain everybody the standards, so everyone has the same understanding of expected outcomes (e.g. case with “overcooked spaghetti”);
- Respect professionalism and opinion of others – at the end of the day – they are members of one team, not enemies.
The best strategy how to improve the situation within the Red team and why?
We think the best strategy based on the Red team’s weaknesses on the video is the idea to assemble and gather everyone’s ideas. Listening to different opinions from other team members coming from different backgrounds and cultures adds an extra perspective to the group. Coming to a common agreement also makes the members feel like a real team as they all have the same goal. Also we think that there should be a leader of the Red team. For example, if there are disagreements or too many different opinions, the leader has to make the decision which would be in the interest of the whole team. The important thing is that all team members should agree with the leader’s decision.