Thursday, October 31, 2013
I recently found an old picture of a great team I used to work with many years ago. It was one of my favorite work experiences from my time working in a corporate environment. What made it one of my favorite experiences was the team, how close we were, and how much we all loved working together. The reason we were all so close was because of our leader – he had a great approach to team building. His approach was for us to do things together that created memorable experiences. These memorable experiences were created outside the work environment and were about doing things unrelated to work.
For example, each quarter we would have a team night out together and would do things like go to baseball games, go bowling (yes, bowling), play laser tag, or play miniature golf. I remember people groaning about the “team night” before it would happen and could hear everyone (me included) thinking, do we really have to go bowling? But, we did. Our leader required it and for good reason. It was fun and created memories and experiences that bonded us. We got to know each other by having fun together and because we all really liked each other, we did great work together. It was through the process of creating these team experiences that we all became friends. This fostered an environment where we looked forward to being together, enjoyed working together and, as a result, produced some of the highest quality work I’ve ever experienced.
I’ve translated this idea of “creating experiences” into my personal life via as well. I use it as a gift giving option. When birthday’s and holiday’s roll around, I always try to give my family members and close friends experiential gifts. For example, instead of giving my niece a gift card, I’ll take her out for a day of shopping. She may forget the gift card one day but we’ll both always remember the day we shopped together. Sharing experiences with others builds relationships and facilitates strong team development. It’s something I’ve seen work great both personally and professionally and highly recommend this approach.
From a professional perspective, the example I gave of my favorite team is also an example of the best team I’ve ever been on – I’ve never experienced another team environment like that and never had another leader who fostered that type of environment of shared experiences. I’d definitely say the shared experiences of having fun outside the work environment is what made this team stand apart from others. I believe that that creating memorable experiences with your team is the best thing you can do to bond the group, improve their performance, and make it your best team.