The show that our group observed is “Hell’s Kitchen” by Gordon Ramsey. The source came from season 5, episode 4 – “13 Chefs Compete”. There were two groups competing, one red, consisting of women, and one blue, consisting of solely men. Gordon Ramsey hosts a show where two teams compete on a daily basis to perform different cooking challenges. The show takes place in a restaurant environment, where random, paying customers enter and order meals. For this episode, the specific objective was to make breakfast for 100 children and to make dinner for upper class customers. Whichever group could perform the two tasks the fastest, with highest quality, and with greatest customer satisfaction would be considered the winner. In this exercise, we’re observing the blue group. The individual members of the blue group consisted of; Seth, Robert, Ben, Giovanni and Danny.
Upon finishing the show, there were immediately more similar perspectives in comparison to the differing opinions. In terms of initial observations of the group members and the group as a whole, there was strong agreement as to how they functioned. We all found that the blue team was in disharmony, not collective in terms of decision making and egocentric. We also saw agreement in terms of the way that the members treat each other, and the way that they viewed each other. They were all disrespectful, thinking that they were individually greater than the team as a whole. Furthermore, the group analyzed the men’s weaknesses and strengths as the same. One difference came in terms of the motivation. Most group members thought that the single most important motivating factor was winning, and thus not being eliminated, whereas one member found that the men were highly motivated to perform well to build more self-esteem.
Our initial impressions were based on the body language that the blue team was showing. It was evident that there was a lot of testosterone, and that the men were very ambitious and full of confidence to take on the challenge. They were furthermore determined to beat the red team (consisting of women). The self-confidence could be seen through their body expressions as the men were standing up straight, and trying to look tough. The facial expressions, also part of body language, showed confidence, and revealed the true thoughts and feelings that each member had towards the other members of the group. Initial impressions were also based on the verbal interaction that took place. The group was very demeaning towards the individual members by blaming them, and saying disrespectful words. They were not united at all. The disharmony could also be seen through verbal communication as the members raised voices against each other and lost their temper. Provocative language was also exchanged. Most important perhaps, to forming our initial impressions, were the physical actions that took place. Ben, at one point, threw the chair across the room to show his dissatisfaction with Danny’s big ego. Initial impressions were therefore based on body language, facial expressions, communication, and physical action.
There was not a lot of prejudice, except in one instance. At the end of the show, the blue team obtained a female member, Lacey. There was some prejudice against Lacey as one the blue team members exclaimed, “Oh my god, we got rid of some dead weight. Now we are gaining another 250 pounds of dead weight.” This phrase implies that he sees Lacey, and women in general, as a worse cook than men. He believes that since she is a woman, she adds no value to the blue team. Besides this instance we couldn’t detect discrimination and stereotype in this episode.
Throughout the episode there were apparent strengths and weaknesses. The blue group had quite some strengths. Their ambition to succeed and their high motivation coming into the challenge were two strengths that were observed. The men were always ambitious, throughout the challenge, even when things went wrong. This could be seen as a strength since it allows the team to continue, rather than quit. One example of ambition was when Seth was yelled at and got a cloth thrown in his face by Gordon Ramsey. Instead of raging, he simply went back to improve his dish. The motivation is a strength since it allowed them to be aggressive, rather than passive. Their weaknesses included; individualism in the group, overconfidence, too little communication and a lack of team spirit. The individualism was a weakness because it got in the way of achieving the goal. To succeed, collectivism was needed. Overconfidence was a weakness, since it caused lack of communication. The lack of communication itself was also a weakness, as it caused misunderstandings. Furthermore, the lack of communication in the team ultimately caused the blue group to fail both the breakfast and the dinner challenges. For an example, Ben had problems with the soup causing him to seek help. No one decided to help, and when Ben gave up, Danny suddenly appeared out of nowhere and took the role on of making the soup. Danny did not help to be a good team member, but wanted Gordon Ramsey to recognize his excellence. The fact that team spirit lacked, caused egocentrism within the group, and also led to the failure reach the ultimate goal, doing the tasks the fastest. It was therefore evident that the weaknesses exceeded the strengths.
Out of the weaknesses mentioned in the previous paragraph, the biggest weakness was the lack of team spirit. Due to the lack of team spirit, the other weaknesses (individualism, lack of communication and overconfidence) emerged. Evidence of little team spirit was evident as prior to the challenge the blue group was laughing together, while during the challenge there was no bonding, and frustration got the best of the team. Another piece of evidence was when Ben sliced the lamb too thin. This caused Gordon Ramsey to scold him and in the background the other team members were sniggering and laughing at him rather than supporting him.
To improve the performance of the group observed, several strategies could be incorporated. One strategy could for the group to come together and understand each other’s backgrounds and values. This would lead to an understanding that will eventually lead to more team bonding and spirit. Knowing each individual members values, can also eliminate misunderstandings. Another strategy that could be applied is implementing norms of equality. This could help reduce (and perhaps eliminate) the individualism and egocentric behavior, and make room for collectivism. Last and the most important strategy would be establishing a hierarchy with a rotating role of who is the leader. This leader would change every challenge. This would help because there would be clear communication, and a clear set or rules. There would be no miscommunication, and the leader would be able to allocate resources efficiently. Every member would know which member is in charge for each challenge, and everyone would get the chance to show his opinion. There should be a set of basic rules, for example, for every one of Gordon Ramsey’s food orders, each person should answer “Yes, chef!”. In this case, there will be a sense of team spirit emerging among the people.
In conclusion, we would recommend this team to work on their interpersonal skills and to work on communication. This is essential to the success of this group. Moreover, they should establish some sort of hierarchy with a rotating leader who takes responsibility to lead the team to its goal. From this exercise we can tell that the importance of team spirit and basic rules are essential to success.