As a group we observed an episode of Hell’s Kitchen US. It was episode seven from season seven (HK0707). The show features two teams; the blues and the reds. The teams operate in a kitchen in which the conditions are hellish, hence the name Hell’s Kitchen. It is an open kitchen in a restaurant so customers can see and hear everything they do right and wrong. Gordon Ramsay is the judge on both the individual and on the collective performance. After each challenge he names the winning team.
This episode featured two main objectives/challenges. The first objective featured the redesigning of a three-course menu that was served at the original wedding of a 50th anniversary couple. The second objective featured the food preparation and service of the 50th anniversary dinner. The overall objective is pleasing Chef Ramsay with the team performance and trying to win the competition by showing their personal skills in culinary activities. At the end of each episode, the losing team selects two members for elimination, one of which will have to leave the program.
For this assignment we focused on the Red team. The Red team has five members:
Benjamin: Former Blue team member, he has been assigned to the red team by Chef Ramsay after the last elimination. He is arrogant, overconfident and has a lot of critique on his fellow team members. He calls himself “The best cook in the program”.
Fran: One of the oldest team members. She is slow, not used to the hectic and fast-paced work in the kitchen and therefore seems to always be one step behind.
Holli: A social woman who gets a lot done with a polite smile and decent work. She is very group-aware but continuously and desperately trying to fit in with the rest of the team.
Nilka: Silent worker. She gets the job done without complaining.
Siobhan: She is the black sheep and scapegoat of the team. Although she gets blamed for everything she is not a bad cook. She and Benjamin are constantly at daggers drawn.
The group itself has had a long streak of losses. They are down on morale and are becoming more chaotic and angry at each other with each new loss. The Blue team is confident and has a good team structure. In this episode their leader Benjamin gets assigned to the Red Team.
Comparison of the individual answers
The overall impressions and answers are fairly similar. We all agree on the team dynamics, the personalities of the team members and the basic goals. The most apparent difference is found in the description of the team members. Although all of us agree on the basic description of Benjamin, the choice of words differs at a personal level. Especially between the words ‘a bit full of himself’, ‘Arrogant’, ‘Overconfident’ and ‘Narcissistic’ we seem to differ.
Another topic on which we differ is the achievement of winning the first challenge. Some of us see it as a real group performance; others see it like a single positive event in a terrible team.
The evidence for our initial impressions
There are a number of clues we used as evidence for our impressions. The recaps of the previous episodes gave a short story behind the team dynamics and motivations. The individual interviews with the team members throughout the entire episode gave a good indication of the motivation behind the acts of the participants. Beside those we based our impressions on the group interactions and facial expressions during the challenges.
Prejudices, Discrimination and Stereotypes
Prejudices, discrimination and stereotypes are all present in this episode. We found two clear prejudices. First, when Benjamin gets the news that he is transferred to the Red team, he says that there is no way to save this team. He concluded this without having even worked with them for a single minute. This causes a lack of open mindedness that is necessary to create a group dynamic. The second prejudice it the competence of Siobhan. Every single participant thinks her skills lack passion and experience. Although everyone is against her, she does not make a single mistake throughout the episode.
Discrimination presents itself in the form of age discrimination. Fran is seen as too old for this job and gets treated by Benjamin as worthless to the team.
Finally we discovered one stereotype. Benjamin is a typical leader. He sees himself as one and acts accordingly. The team members adopt this statement and treat him accordingly, which makes this stereotype reality.
Strengths and Weaknesses
The red team in Hell’s Kitchen likened to many group dynamics contributed to both strengths and weaknesses. The red team has a sense of diversity amongst the group. This is seen through obvious differences such as age, race and sex. However, it can also be seen through attitude, motivational factors or personalities, which come together to form unison. For example the newest team member (Benjamin) takes on the role of team leader, as he did in the blue team, and strives, once again, for success. Due to the other members losing consecutively they allow the newest member to do take on the role of the leader. The diversity amongst the team allows them to bring new ideas to the table and strive for a victory through teamwork and creativity. Also, the motivational element in the red team seems to be quite apparent through the fact that the team seems to have a similar end goal of winning the challenges and in the end possibly become head-chef of one of Gordon Ramsey’s infamous restaurants.
Within the episode there is also a combination of strengths, which later form weaknesses. One of the main issues is the concept of attitudes between group members. This element brings both positive and negative aspects to the group dynamic. An example of this is the fact that the red team has had numerous challenge loses, thus there is a sense of demoralization. Due to this, the team feels the necessary motivational factors to win the next challenge. This is made possible through the acceptance of the new team member (who was previously part of the blue team) as the new team leader. With the new group dynamic the red team succeeds in winning their first challenge. However, after the start of the second challenge there is a sense of over-confidence thus losing the team’s objective. The union, which was created in the first challenge, slowly fades and members start lacking in communicational effectiveness. This emphasizes the weaknesses, which come into play. This is seen through arguments within the kitchen and the lack of unison when delivering end products. The elements of weakness, which can be seen near the end of the episode, result in the loss of the second challenge for the red team. Essentially the red team’s overconfidence was a negative element to the motivational contributions which were seen at the beginning.
The biggest weakness of the group
The group’s biggest weakness would be the element of motivation. The lack of motivation, which starts to become evident during the second challenge, causes the group to focus on the negative aspects of the group environment. Also, the group struggles to look at the failure as a whole and instead individual failures are emphasized. An example of this is the lack of motivation between the members. In the second challenge the roles within the group were not as clearly divided as the first challenge. This causes the communication barriers to become apparent and contributes to the struggle the group finds themselves to succeed in the second challenge. Communication in essence is the key to the motivational aspects within the group.
Suggestions to improve the group performance
When looking at the overall weakness of the group, motivation and communication are two elements which seem to coincide with one another. Therefore, when observing the group a number of suggestions could be made to improve the performance of the red team. This is specifically for the lack of communication, which was seen in the second challenge. As follows we have constructed the following list.
· Speak your individual mind
· Try to avoid confrontation
· Positive motivation from the team leader
· Help each other when necessary
· Instead of knowing only individual tasks, there needs to be an awareness of the other members and their tasks
In order to improve communication and motivation it would be best to have the leader motivate each member of the team, especially in a positive manner. This allows for a sense of harmony between the individuals, thus contributing to a positive group dynamic. Essentially, the team leader needs to compose him/herself and make sure that there is as little chaos as possible within the kitchen. As seen in the episode the chaotic nature of the group emphasizes the lack of communication between the members and thus contributing to negative elements, which could lead to failure of the challenge.