At our team building group cooking events, I always love when its time for the prawn peeling – there is always a commotion. Taking the poo out of prawns can be daunting to many, so it’s always one of the telling moments of our sessions. For managers who are keen to understand the dynamics of their work groups, I pull them aside and tell them to watch this interaction as you get to see who steps up and who goes and hides in the corner. Who are the leaders and the followers? Who focuses on the poo and who grabs the tiger (prawn) by the tail, as it were? Who does the task as instructed and who improvises their own solution? Some people jump right in and start mangling the little suckers, while some quickly put gloves on and try not to touch any part of the crustacean. Some will do anything to get out of it. This is a moment rich in metaphors.I always use this moment to bring the team together. It is a big, important and perceived unpleasant task (not unlike some of the things everyone has to do at work). One great part is the team has to spend time right next to each other, so it’s a great time to get them to talk. I always say that Prawn Peeling is good as it’s the time they have together to solve the problems of the world. So I throw out topics about their work, how they communicate with each other, who takes charge and how they get results in their jobs. It’s a good time to talk about how food reflects cultural differences and how this relates to working techniques and communication. These little vignettes keep them thinking and get them to communicate directly, rather than emailing each other from the next desk over. The prawns become the common enemy to be defeated, bringing the group closer together.
With the unpleasantness behind them, the reward is that whoever peels the prawns gets to flambe them. This is what we call the money shot for the cameras. Finally, the hard work is done and then you see the stars come out and the big smiles.
So does peeling prawns bring a team together? Absolutely! Humans have been bonding over food for eons, and corporate team building is necessary, so what better mix?
If you want to explore your prawn peeling skills, alone or in a group, take up Crystal Bay Prawns offer to go into their “Great Prawn Peel-off” prawn peeling contest.
Do any of you have any favourite foods to bond over?