When we think of traditional team building, we tend to see a blend of orienteering, mountaineering and treasure hunts leading to a bunch of freezing cold or sunburnt teammates who’ve had just about as much of the great outdoors as they can cope with.
Of course, traditional team building activities have their place, and a multitude of uses. However, many team managers are turning away from traditional activities, putting on their thinking caps and working on the idea that if their team both enjoy the day away from work and receive a strong reward for doing so, then the key skills they learned as part of the day will be more likely to filter down into the everyday activities.
Cue the corporate cookery course.
What it involves
Cookery has long been considered a social activity with dining parties and classes designed to teach everyone from the master-chef to the novice the best way of preparing luxury food. The advent of cookery shows has only added to the notion of cookery as a team building activity.
Many business owners are harnessing the reputation and the fun of group cookery sessions for their own purposes by using cookery sessions as corporate exercises.
Of course, each event is different and will depend on the food being prepared, the teacher and their approach and the size and structure of the group but each event follows a similar pattern in that each member of the group has their own task which will contribute towards the final food product and has to work in time to the rest of the group to get the best possible result from their dish.
There are many reasons for the increasing popularity of cookery classes as group bonding activities. Firstly, cookery is an activity which is very inclusive and means that it is suitable for a variety of different people irrespective of their age or fitness level. As an increasing problem within traditional group activities where the needs of certain people are either ignored or cannot be accounted for, cookery is an all-encompassing, all-welcoming activity which is suitable for all.
While orienteering activities can often reward those with an existing skillset, the advantage of a cookery course for many employers is that everyone can be involved whatever their particular skill level. The basics of cooking are pretty easy for most people, so any level of expertise can be accommodated.
Of course, with many traditional group based exercises, there is no reward for the participants. However, with cookery there is an immediate advantage in that the group get to eat the food they have prepared, plus they also learn kitchen skills as simple as learning how to cut with a knife properly. Dining is in itself a very inclusive activity and many team leaders are using the sit down meal as the second part of the activity itself as the workforce enjoy the spoils of their labour as well as evaluating their work.
Finally, using a cookery course has follow-on benefits. For example, it breaks down barriers in hierarchies and across cultures. It also encourages discussion after the event: from the way they recreated the dish they prepared to begging you to be allowed to go on another!