Business organizations with well-run teams have many benefits including lower turnover and higher profits. So why are some teams more productive and successful than others? And, how can organizations work to foster a synergy where employees are empowered and motivated to perform at their best?
Karin Eastham, author of “Cook the Part” and presenter of Cook Up Some Teamwork: Five Lessons from the Kitchen, says hosting ongoing team building initiatives is key to success of organizations.
“In any business, you want team members to look out for each other, to fill the gap in each other’s weaknesses and to appreciate the skills and talents of team members.”
Eastham says when she started cooking with business colleagues from the Boehringer Mannheim Corporation in Indianapolis, IN over 30 years ago she quickly learned that team cooking can be a metaphor for corporate life.
“When you gather a team of coworkers to cook and dine for an evening, you experience a fun event that captures workplace dynamics. Your goal is to create a fabulous meal with time constraints and limited resources, everyone has tasks to complete and, therefore, each role is critical to success of the event.”
“As each course is prepared and enjoyed, with everyone on the same page, relationships are deepened. Team members have fun creating together, problem solving, and supporting each other through an experience that will be shared equally in the end by all involved.
Shannon Timmerman, CMP for Glacier Canyon Lodge Conference Center in Wisconsin Dells, agrees with Eastham about the importance of offering fun team building activities to help build camaraderie.
“Our conference center is part of the Wilderness Territory which is all about having fun, so I am always encouraging meeting planners utilizing our facility to work hard in our board rooms and then to play hard as a team afterward at our various attractions.”
“In our fast-paced world, we’re all under a lot of pressure to perform well in our jobs. However, for a team to be really successful, they also have to be able to have fun together,” says Timmerman. “It’s when we are all able to laugh at ourselves and with others that tensions melt, and people’s best talents shine through.”
Participants were divided up into teams. Then, each team was given a package containing directions, guidelines and materials needed to aid them in their hunt. Working against the clock, teams had to collaborate to create an action plan for solving the hunt’s clues and identifying each hidden cache’s secret location. For the final stage, the teams had to use their collected caches and guidelines to transform a team canvas into a painting using Rust-Oleum products. What unfolded before their eyes was an artistic representation of their team journey and efforts along the way.
“The hunt was a great break from our meetings, and offered an excellent opportunity for coworkers to interact and enhance their relationships in a casual setting,” says Bialecki. “I knew that there were a lot of go-getters in our group, but I didn't realize how dedicated they were to winning until I saw them in action!”
Eastham says when it really gets down to it, the purpose of a good team building exercise is to show participants, in fun and creative ways, that successful teams need to be open to change and responsive to one another’s needs and ideas.
They have to see that their roles need to be fluid, everyone must be motivated for the greater good and that respect is critical. In a fun team building activity transformations will occur and participants will return to the workplace more united.