As employee benefits brokers, we work in a time sensitive, high intensity environment and we count on our colleagues constantly. Whether it's shuffling workloads, covering a meeting for someone, or simply answering each other’s day to day questions, we function best as a unit. These units are most successful when each member has trust in one another - but this doesn’t happen overnight, and it doesn’t happen by mistake. Teams need to work on the attributes that make them successful and this is usually most effective when done outside of the office away from the normal workday routine.
Mention team building in some offices and the response can sometimes be underwhelming. Whether it was a bad prior experience or the timing wasn’t right to be away from the office because of client commitments, team building can sometimes get a “bad rap”. However, with the right planning and the right mindset, team building activities can be extremely valuable. Some of the benefits include breaking team barriers, facilitating better communication, and developing problem-solving skills for an overall greater team spirit. Breaking team barriers is an opportunity to eliminate any perceived gap between management and employees and levels the playing field, leaving the team as a bonded group.
Recently, my team and I participated in a workshop with an improvisation group. One of the activities we participated in was a simple permission game. We started by passing an imaginary softball around the circle. This was simple until we added an imaginary beach ball, an imaginary bouncy ball, an imaginary chicken, an imaginary newborn baby, imaginary slime and an imaginary hot potato to the mix. The concept was to make sure the person we were passing these imaginary objects to was ready and able to take on the load from us. This reminded me of the load sharing that I have already experienced at OneDigital, but it helped put a different perspective on it. Not only do you need to make sure your team is ready in order for the work to get done well, but it’s important to make your partner look good in the process. Don’t hand off the slime while they are holding the baby or you will end up with quite the mess!
My team and I participated in some additional activities and concluded our time improvising with an exercise in communication: an interaction game where we began each sentence with “I know”. The goal here was to keep the conversation going by picking up where our partner left off in the conversation. The skills we learned and practiced as a part of the workshop will allow us to be stronger presenters, better listeners, more effective collaborators and ultimately a stronger team.
It’s important to experience your colleagues away from the office setting because you are able to see new sides of everyone for a deeper understanding and appreciation of one another. Getting to know my team outside of work has been invaluable for strengthening our existing team bond and the amazing culture we have at OneDigital.