I recently attended a retreat for a year-long leadership program I’m participating in called Leadership Lorain County. There are 45 people in my class. We walked in Wednesday afternoon as strangers for the most part. We left Friday as a team who knew and respected each other.
So if 45 of us could do this over the course of just under 48 hours, why do most business owners we speak with have trouble getting their employees on the same page?
There were a couple of things we did during the retreat that I believe really helped in building trust and respect early on. Here they are in order:
1. What’s Your Name: one of the biggest road blocks to creating bonding and rapport with a new group of people is getting to know everyone’s names. So instead of using name tags, we played the Name Circle game on the first night after dinner. In less than an hour, we not only knew each other’s names, we also had a sense for each person’s personality, we supported and started to trust each other, and many people had gotten out of their comfort zones. Here’s how the Name Circle game works. Everyone sits in a circle facing inward so everyone can see everyone else’s face. The person who starts uses an adjective that describes them and starts with the same letter as their first name (e.g. I was “Affable Adam”). The second person has to repeat the first person’s “nickname” and first name and then make one up for themselves. The third person has to repeat the first two people’s nicknames and first names and then make up one of their own, and so on. So the last person (in our case it was “Red Rick”) had to repeat the other 44 nicknames and first names. It was pretty cool to be a part of this!
2. What’s Your Style: we spent about 4 hours over the course of two days getting to know our personality styles through an assessment and a workshop. I’m a big believe in understanding as much as you can about your personal style. It helps you in so many ways. It basically makes you more effective in any situation (assuming you want to do your best in a given situation). So if you don’t understand and appreciate your own style, you certainly won’t be trying to figure out the styles of the rest of your team, your customers, your family, or anyone else. And you’ll just go through your world pretty much being your natural self all the time and wondering why everyone else can’t just simply be more like you! We use DISC with our business coaching clients.
3. What’s Your Bag: we were given the following homework assignment about two weeks prior to our retreat:
“Your assignment is to organize a bag that is a visual representation of your personality. Inside we would like you to consider including items that represent the following:
- A peak experience or moment.
- Something you have accomplished that you are proud of.
- Representation of your hopes and dreams.
- Something that gives you joy.
- Anything else that you want to share that will provide a unique glimpse of who you are and what is important to you.”
And, oh yeah, they asked us to keep our presentation to three minutes. While everyone took longer than 3 minutes, we accomplished the goal of “realizing and appreciating what we all have in common and the rich diversity in the collection of people.” How diverse is your organization of people?
4. Ropes Course: this is where we finished the retreat. What a great way to finish it off! We had to do four team exercises. Each was progressively more difficult and required more time and planning. Each exercise had a time limit and required all team members to participate in and complete the task. Because we had been through steps 1-3 above, we were able to better operate as a team and accomplish all four activities within the given timeframes. Each activity saw different people stand up to lead the way. It also saw each of us display an often unrecognized leadership skill: knowing “when” and “how” to follow someone else who articulates a good plan.
These are just a couple of ideas for what can be done to help create and build your team. What sorts of things do you do within your organization to build your team?
Fellow business coach Dennis Willis is also a member of my class and he posted his thoughts on what a great networking opportunity this is for him in this blog posting.
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