Subdivided for a United Meal

Even though I have never paid much attention to it until recently, I’ve been in many groups. Besides the obvious family group and school groups that I have been participating in for most of my life, I have also been in volunteer groups, work groups and many other groups with different objectives and commonalities. The more interesting thing that I want to focus on, however, is the concept of ┬ásmall teams working together within bigger groups in order to accomplish a unified task. As mentioned in A Systems Approach to Small Group Interaction, the concept of small group interaction is defined as “the process by which three or more members of a group exchange verbal and nonverbal messages in an attempt to influence one another.” I find this so fascinating because it is amazing how much can be accomplished by individuals working together like a well-oiled complex machine. To better explain what I’m talking about, here’s an example of my past experiences in small group interactions.

Anyone who’s ever gone to a fast food restaurant normally just goes inside the store or through the drive-thru, orders and consumes food and leaves afterwards. They never fully experience all of the work it takes for them to be able to get their food. After working at Bojangle’s, a restaurant that specializes in fried chicken and freshly made biscuits, I’ve obtained a better appreciation and understanding of that field of work. Within the store, you have the general manager, who runs the operations of the store and makes sure that everything and everyone is working and efficient. Under them, there are shift leaders who are over smaller groups of workers, each making sure that their group is doing their job as efficiently as possible. There are normally four groups that run side-by-side with one another, the kitchen crew, the front line, the drive-thru and the dining room staff.

This is only a portion of the people required to run a busy fast food restaurant.
This is only a portion of the people required to run a busy fast food restaurant.

The kitchen crew normally handles everything related to the main reason anyone comes to Bojangle’s: the food. They prep and cook everything as it is needed and tries to make sure that the store doesn’t run out of cooked food to sell. The front line and drive-thru groups take the food that the kitchen crew makes, and sells and packs it for the people who visit the store looking to eat. While the two groups work independently of each other, they share similar tasks and require the work done by the kitchen crew in order to operate. All communication starts with the person who takes the customer’s order and the rest of the work is done by other people in the two groups who make the orders and hand them to the customers. Lastly, the dining room staff ensure that the store stays clean and restocked on a utility level, making sure that customers are able to enter the store and have a pleasant experience that isn’t disturbed by any potential grossness or a lack of napkins and condiments. While the upkeep of the store is an important job in its own right, the dining room staff wouldn’t have much to do if the aforementioned groups weren’t handling their jobs properly and the other groups wouldn’t be able to conduct business if customers decided to avoid the store because it was unclean.

In the end, customers only ever probably interact with maybe two to five of the full team required to give them what they want. The reason I’m saying all of this is simple and applies to more than just Bojangle’s. Companies require people to work for them in order to be successful; but even with having the necessary manpower, success isn’t guaranteed unless each task is delegated to a group to handle. A single person can only do so much, but if you have that single person team together with other people for a unified goal, much more can be accomplished. With small group interactions working together inside of bigger organizations, the sky’s the limit on what that organization can do.

7 comments on “Subdivided for a United Meal

  1. And you so did not disappoint! What a wonderful posting, Henry! I look forward to following your blog. I will revisit this after class tomorrow with some additional questions, such as, if you could describe some of the interaction in the groups, do they naturally fall into any particular roles or behaviors, and does the manager work exclusively with the team leaders, or work with everyone?

    1. I’m glad you liked it! To further add some detail, the groups have sort of fallen into a natural rhythm. Everyone in each group tends to prefer doing one part of the job over the other, so everyone normally ends up doing the same task each day, which works, because each person is strong in their preferred space. Sometimes, someone might want to switch it up and work elsewhere, but even then, the slack gets picked up and everything still seems to work fine. The manager actually works with everyone, for the most part. The main reason for them to ever work solely with the team leaders is for learning status updates on the store and the workers and customers.

  2. This a great post for seeing the reading in the book applied to a real working environment and how the beneficial working in teams can be. It doesn’t matter how small or big the role, the impact of teamwork is phenomenal, and you’ve made it easy to see how it can work in any environment. The teamwork at bojangles is essential to making it through the rush and staying prepared. Also it’s not just one team, but multiple teams built to work cohesively both as small groups and one larger group.

  3. You picked a great example to show how a group functions in the work force. Each employee has their own unique role in fast food. Communication plays a major key role in all of the employees performance and fast food service. Working in a group or as a team helps finish tasks faster.

  4. I really enjoyed this post. It was very easy to understand and have commonalities with. I to have worked in the fast food industry. Your ways of seeing the way the team works together as an cohesive small group was quite brilliant.

  5. A very well-written and thoughtful piece! I especially like the line where you mentioned that you worked in many other groups before and didn’t realize it. It just goes to show that most of what we will talk about in class this year will be focused on aspects of small group interaction that we already do unconsciously. The knowledge we gain from this class will allow us to take an active approach to team dynamics and create stronger groups as a result.

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