January 30, 2017
Cooking and Eating: Team Building That Really Works!
Organizations spend millions of dollars on team building. Sadly, the research shows that most of it may be wasted time and money. I've seen ropes courses, trust falls, golf outings and even trapeze lessons! Some of these may be fun for some people. Yet, I've also seen negative consequences, such as isolation for people who do not do well at these events, and even lawsuits based on harassment or the invasion of privacy that sometimes occurs when employees are carried away by the moment -- or by alcohol -- and forget where they are.
I've always thought that the most effective team building was at work, through work. One Harvard Business School study, however, suggests something simple that everyone participates in which is highly effective: eating and cooking together. https://hbr.org/2015/12/team-building-in-the-cafeteria
"Think about offering a chef to come in and work 
with your groups in a cooking exercise."

The researchers studied firehouses around the country and the effectiveness of those teams who were on 24-hour shifts so that they cooked and ate together. The most effective teams were those with the highest level of participants in these activities. 
Other organizations have tried everything from on-site, gourmet and subsidized cafeterias (never underestimate the lure of free food) to various kinds of box lunches and pizza. Yes, it can be a hassle to accommodate the diverse dietary needs of your staff, but the research shows that the results are worth it.   

What Should You Do?  

If you're considering some kind of team building, think about offering a chef to come in and work with your groups in a cooking exercise. Some culinary schools and private chefs offer this service and it can be highly effective. If you have a more modest budget, bring pizza and salad into your next team meeting, or at least cookies and fruit. Just be sure that you ask people in advance about special diets (chefs these days are accustomed to these types of requests) and that you're egalitarian in your offerings.
While the days of executive dining rooms are mostly history, I once facilitated a series of management workshops for an organization that made the lower level managers buy lunch on their own, while the executives in the same classes enjoyed a lavish catered spread. Of course the lower level managers found out and groused for weeks afterwards. Nothing sows dissension in the ranks more than such mistakes.

Did You Know?

All of our workshops help you build teams at work by our series of interactive and fun exercises where we mix a variety of participants. 

For more information, call or write us at: 303-216-1020 or 
[email protected]

Read Lynne's book "Stop Pissing Me Off" and learn what to do when the people you work with drive you crazy.
Workplaces That Work | (303) 216-1020 | [email protected] 
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