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Enhance Teamwork and Morale in the Kitchen

By ANNE MCCARTEN-GIBBS

Team building is a necessity in today's fast-paced business world. Eighty-hour work weeks and increased demands create stress, while a culture of job hopping makes it harder than ever for managers to cultivate team spirit. Taking time for activities that build employee morale is more important than ever.

But does the idea of another team building offsite make your staff roll their eyes? Or worse, get a horrible feeling in the pit of their stomachs? People shouldn't feel anxiety or glassy-eyed boredom when the goal is to build relationships.

Enter culinary team building. Everyone loves food, and the kitchen is a place that people of all types relate to with warm, comfortable familiarity. In addition, gourmet cooking is a fast-growing interest across the country. From the wall-to-wall cooking shows on the Food Network, to bestsellers like The United State of Arugula and Heat, everyone wants to learn more about fine food.

But don't think that cooking and eating together is just a good time. While other team building activities, like ropes courses or scavenger hunts, often emphasize the competitive side of group interaction, culinary team building cultivates communication, cooperation, thoughtful use of resources, and successful risk taking.

Greenbeans

A well-designed culinary event meets the team building goals of employers by creating an environment in which group members experience a spirit of cooperation, and satisfaction in joint accomplishment, while being entertained and inspired by a dynamic interactive experience. Creating gourmet dishes together requires team members to be creative and to experiment, with a clearly defined goal in mind – much like the challenges they face at work.

Culinary team building events also do double duty as a memorable meal, making them easier to fit into crowded schedules and the ideal finale to a day of meetings. We often hear from our clients that these events offer the perfect balance between activity and unstructured socializing. Participants work together to create something wonderful, then sit down with a glass of wine and enjoy it together. The experience of cooking together makes for animated conversation, and soon the group is discussing work issues or anything on their mind, in a relaxed and friendly way. One manager told us that a new employee who had been quiet throughout a day-long meeting finally relaxed and shared her thoughts while sautéing alongside her colleagues at their culinary team building event.

The best team experiences are less about being "built" by an outside trainer, and more about sharing positive experiences. The short-term effect is the energy and positive feelings you get from doing something active and fun together. The long-term benefit is the boost in creativity and efficiency that comes from your employees getting to know and appreciate each other.

Anne McCarten-Gibbs 






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