Hell’s Kitchen is an American T.V. series where a group of 10 people complete a series of challenges with the ultimate goal of owning their very own restaurant. In episode 7 there are five contestants left who had previously been divided into two groups (red and blue). In this episode Jessica (Headhunter), Jimmy (Sales Supervisor), Ralph (Professional Chef), Micheal (Professional Chef) and Elsie (Mother of Six) are joined together to form one team, Team Black. Chef Ramsey can be considered a part of team as he does check the food and provide feedback during the second challenge. There are two main challenges in this episode. We are going to focus on the second challenge where the team black has to complete one full nights service in Hell’s Kitchen. Under the high standards of Chef Gordon Ramsey this is no easy task and it leads to many frustrations within the group. The team enjoys a good start and even serves appetizers at record time, but ultimately fails to reach its goal (completing service), due to Chef Ramsey disappointment with two of the team’s members and his decision to stop the service.
Overall our own group seemed to agree about the fact that Team Black did not work together very well as they focused on their own jobs. Ralph expresses the idea perfectly: “Individually everyone has to perform and if I can help somebody great, but if I can’t I just can’t.” This shows his lack of commitment to the team as a whole. This motif repeats itself during the service. Jessica had run out Fillet Mignon and no one helped her at first. It was only later on that Michael told Jessica he had found the Fillet Mignon in the back of the refrigerator after Chef Ramsey had been informed.
Jimmy seemed quite insecure and confused. For example in an attempt to keep his workplace clean he did not notice that he accidently threw out the lobster that was meant for the next table being served. This lead to a delay in that nights service.
He also puts up with a lot of the criticisms Chef Ramsey but it became apparent that he does have a limit as he refused to put up with criticisms of Chef Ramsey by the end of the service.
Some people in our group thought that Elsie seemed a bit insecure, for example she took peace with the idea that Sous Chef Marie Anne would be there to help her and later on said “When all is said and done all I have to do is take Chef Marie Anne aside and ask what I need to do.” Furthermore she forgot some key items to serve tableside which might serve as an indication for her lack of experience.
Michael seemed very focused and professional because he knew what to do and knew his way around the kitchen. This was apparent because he moved quickly in the kitchen and was very capable. When he was in charge of the appetizers in the kitchen, dishes were going out in record time
Ralph is someone who is dedicated to his work and a very honest person because during elimination he chose the two weakest people even though one of them was his friend. Also he seems like a very professional person as he was asked by Chef Ramsey to come work aside him at the front of the Kitchen.
Jessica seemed to be the only person who saw the group as a whole but despite this people seem to be working against her. She was the only group member to compliment other members performance and asked for their help in several occasions , they were on the other hand reluctant to help het. Jessica was the only member who arouse disagreement among us; Some of us thought that she had of an arrogant attitude towards Chef Ramsey that was shown through her body language and the tones of speech she used. In contrast, some of us actually thought she was the most social of all because she was the most communicative at the team and didn’t let her individual goal to get in the way of her collective perspective.
Chef Ramsey seems like a very rigid outspoken person who does not like being interrupted or said no to. His way of motivating his team to do better seems a bit counterintuitive as he calls Jimmy “donkey” and “fatty.”
Team Black has many strengths and weaknesses. The most apparent strength they have is that they are the last of a large pool of people and therefore the best. The group did present excellent performance at the beginning of the night and established record time in serving appetizers. It also an advantage that they are familiar with the menu that they are cooking that night, this is because it is assembled of dished they had prepared in previous services and dishes created by them from the last service. And indeed there were no complaints on the quality of the food in the behalf of chef Ramsey. Furthermore, the fact that the group is smaller than it was at the beginning might work to their advantage because too many people might result in a chaotic kitchen. Finally, another advantage would be that they are now working under the supervision of Chef Ramsey instead of a inexperienced team captain.
The most perceptible disadvantage of this team would be that they are still working against each other. An example of this would be Michaels suspicious and sudden help of finding the Fillet Mignon. This hints to sabotage and the idea that their individual motivation to win the game outgrows the collective goal to complete a nights service.
We would like to project the Categorization-elaboration model (CEM) to explain why the team’s performance didn’t reach its full potential. The team’s starting point is good, they are the most talented chefs so far in the show, they have experience working with each other and making the dishes, they all have different experience that could lead to creative ways to solve problems, handle pressure or teaching each other new techniques. If the members of the team were to communicate with each other and work in a unified manner, the elaboration process would have led to positive enhanced performance. Their self interest to boost their own performance distorted their motivation direction from the collective goal. From the social categorization perspective, conflicts or intergroup commitments and alliances that aroused in previous episodes also sabotaged the elaboration process. The result of inefficient elaboration process led to deficient performance, and in the end to a failure – they didn’t complete a night’s service.
Van Knippenberg, D., De Dreu, C. K. W., & Homan, A. C. (2004). Work Group Diversity and Group Performance: An Integrative Model and Research Agenda. Journal of Applied Psychology, 98, p. 1008-1022.
1. Reduce the competition within the team would be via the punishment technique. If they are sabotaging each other or refuse to help each other they should be punished by for example being put up for elimination
2. Encourage people more to work as a team via positive reinforcement like Chef Ramsey does with Ralph (asking him to work aside him).
3. Job Rotation (changing stations) – each member is responsible for one station (appetizer, garnish, meat, fish, desert). changing the roles in the kitchen after a given time will increase everybody’s interest to make sure that every station works well and create a more equal environment.
4. Feedback – paying extra attention to the way the individual team members work as a team.
In our perspective, job rotation will be the most efficient solution. As it is mentioned above job rotation means that every individual will change their station every certain amount of minutes, this will create an interdependent relationship between the members. By changing the structure we are uniting the collective goal with the individual goal - One members problem becomes another members problem because according to the job rotation, eventually you will find yourself responsible for said station.
Moreover, this will give everyone a chance to do the easier jobs and not just the hard ones and by that create equity. The easier jobs will also lead to self enhancement due to the higher rate of success.
In team black, job rotation might have eliminated the problems in Jessica’s meat station and Jimmy’s fish station. The moment the members were to notice a problem in these station, they would the react immediately to help, otherwise by the time they will get there, orders would be piling up and they might be the ones to be blamed.