To have an individual or team work together to a full six count.
When first seen, this gets a lot of ooh’s and aaahh’s, but only if you can pull it off yourself. This is one of those activities you do first and see if they can follow. It is recommended to only show them once. If you can’t do the following, then ask for a volunteer. It makes it more fun anyway.
First, have a volunteer come forward. Instruct the volunteer that you are going to test them on team coordination. The test is simple. First, let them know that his or her right arm will be placed in only two positions – either straight up by the ear or straight down by your waist. The left arm will be in three positions, straight up by their ear, out to the side like an airplane wing or straight down by the side. When instructed he or she will move his or her arms to the corresponding positions on each beat, from one to six.
1. Up 1. Up
2. Side 2. Down
3. Down 3. Up
4. Up 4. Down
5. Side 5. Up
6. Down 6. Down
Both the left and the right arms have to move at the same time with each count. As the laughter settles down have everyone try. Once done with practicing, ask for six volunteers to come to the front and demonstrate for everyone.
After everyone has had a turn in practicing, have everyone go back a form teams of six and have them come up with their most creative form of six count.
Make sure that everyone has room enough to move around with arms fully extended.
If only people wore a sign saying I’m not listening.
On May 7th a tragedy occurred. A warning was given. Twelve-Thousand and one people drowned many who were children. Sadly, this day in history could have been avoided. On May 7th, 1915, the Lusitania, one of the fastest liners in the world was hit by a German torpedo causing it to sink within 20 minutes. The great tragedy of this day was this disaster may have been avoided if only the captain had listened. The “British admiralty warned the Lusitania to avoid the area or take simple evasive actions, such as zigzagging to confuse U-boats plotting the vessel’s course.” For whatever reason the captain ignored them, and the rest is history. Is there a lesson to be learned? We think so.
Certainly most of us do not face life or death decisions like the captain of the Lusitania faced, however all of us face relational conflicts that are vital to our relational health. Whether at home, school, work or other social areas we all experience the ups and down that come as part of being in relationships with family members, co-workers and friends. And if we want to have healthy relationships, we must shrewdly navigate the tortuous waters in order not to find ourselves relationally shipwrecked. We would like to share with you a few recommendations that could be useful as you avoid certain areas of conflict or use evasive tactics to elude or lesson the blow of the relational missiles that are sure to come.
Learn to listen.This is an area that we all struggle with especially in the midst of conflict. Because we operate a team building company, we have the opportunity to witness this struggle up close and personal. Experiential learning, which basically means learning by doing, is the vehicle that we use to help groups grow in their ability to navigate the conflicts that they experience in their work groups, school groups or teams. When presented with a challenge, a group learns healthy ways to work through conflict and problems. Because of this work, the group ultimately establishes relationship patterns that permanently impact the group’s long term success. We have observed that a major hindrance to many groups has been the inability to listen in the midst of conflict. Stephen Covey made this same observation saying, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Another author addresses the problem by simply saying, “Be quick to hear, slow to speakand slow to anger.” We like to paraphrase it by saying “If spend most of your time listening and trying to understand, you will spend less time defending and being a hot head.”
Learn what to avoid. Yes, sometimes conflict needs to be avoided all together. It’s called sensitivity! Going back to the tragedy of the Lusitania, the British admiralty warned the captain because they had experienced conflict in those waters before. Their basic message was “Don’t Go There!” We sometime need to learn from past experience that certain topics are “Don’t Go There” topics for some people. Learning what those sensitive topics are will go a long way in knowing how to approach, or not approach, areas of conflict.Another way to avoid conflict is to learn how to de-escalate situations. The basic message here is “Back Away!” In their article “How to Avoid Conflict With People,” Jennn Fusion and Demand Media suggest, “If someone is angry, respond compassionately by acknowledging their feelings and finding points of agreement. If the anger is directed at you, a sincere apology is always disarming.” You will be amazed how being able to acknowledge fault can help de-escalate a situation.
Learn helpful conflict tactics. In Jack Canfield’s book “The Success Principle,” he talks about something called “Heart Talks.” “Heart Talks” are useful before meetings, when an emotionally charged event occurs, when there is conflict between people or groups; and on a regular basis at home, in the office, and in the classroom.
How is a “Heart Talk” conducted?
Begin a Heart Talk with two to 10 people. Explain that by following the guidelines, a safe, nonjudgmental space will be created to support everyone. Assemble the members in a circle and introduce the basic rules:
1) Only the person holding the heart (or other object) talks.
2) No one judges or criticizes what anyone else has said.
3) Pass the object to the left after your turn.
4) Talk about how you feel.
5) Keep the information you hear confidential.
6) Don’t leave the room until everyone agrees that the talk is complete.
Post these guidelines where everyone can see them. If someone gets off track, point to the guideline they’ve broken.
Go around the group at least once so that everyone gets a turn. Keep starting over with the first person and going around until nobody has anything else to say. In that case, say “pass” when the object reaches you.
What benefits can be expected from a “Heart Talk?”
A “Heart Talk” enhances people’s listening skills, provides a constructive outlet for feelings, improves conflict resolution skills, enables people to let go of old resentments, develops mutual respect and understanding, and creates a sense of unity among the members.
You spend a solid 40 (or more) hours at work each week — would you really want to spend any more time than you already have to with your co-workers?
Statistics show that you should — strong relationships with co-workers foster happiness and productivity. A report from RedBalloon/AltusQ found that companies with high employee engagement levels were up to 10 times more likely to see an increase in sales and profit than those with lower engagement. What’s more: Coaching, buddy programs, company lunches and nights out had the greatest effect on employee engagement levels. In other words, employees want to feel nurtured and belong to a community.
Company culture is important, and brands have found it worth the investment to spend a little money on cultivating a team dynamic. As Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh once said, “If we get the culture right, then great service and building a long-term, enduring brand or business will just be a natural byproduct.”
Mashable spoke with several startups about whether they do company outings and how it contributes to an improved company culture. Step one: Break out the karaoke machine.
A Great Spark for Ideation and Innovation
In a fast-moving, high-pressure tech environment, it’s important to take a break. The brain is a muscle, and while working it out will strengthen it, it’s also important to give it a rest and let it recover. Even better if you can have some fun during the recovery period.
“We’ve found that team members often get their best ideas when they’re out of the office with time to breathe and have fun,” says Rent the Runway founder Jenn Hyman. Her team goes “off the island” for team-building so the company’s 70 employees understand one another and enjoy communicating with one another on a personal and professional level. This summer, the RTR team will go aboard a trendy pirate-themed boat cruise, enjoy a day of beach Olympics and have a cookout at their warehouse in New Jersey.
Escaping the city is a good plan — a metropolis can be an overwhelming place, and leaving, even if it’s just for the day, can feel like a vacation. StumbleUpon teammates recently headed out to Angel Island to soak up the sun and engage in the playful pickup games in the park. Another team took a sweet outing to TCHO, a San Francisco chocolate factory. A StumbleUpon staple is karaoke, and as you’ll see in the video above, even higher-ups (Marc Leibowitz, VP of Business Development and Marketing, and CFO Mark Bartels) aren’t afraid to belt a few jams in front of the entire company.
“Outings are a fun break — people from different functional areas get to know each other better in a casual setting,” says Bartels. “We’ve found that it’s often in these relaxed and open moments that we get some creative solutions and collaboration that ends up back in the office.”
On a similar note, Foursquare hosts team drinks every month or two so everyone can meet the new employees at the fast-growing company, and the team indulges in local “culture.” The NYC team went to the rodeo at Madison Square Garden (and then went out for karaoke), and the SF team went to a monster truck show (of course, they checked in). Like many tech startups, the team has offices in San Francisco and New York, so they make an effort to get to know each other when someone’s in town — face-time helps to bring those email avatars to life.
“It’s very important to us that employees continue to socialize and share ideas across teams as we grow,” says Susan Loh, head of talent at Foursquare. “Some of our best ideas have started as casual conversations over beers.”
Scopely, a mobile company based in Los Angeles, does regular paintball outings, hosts company dinners and has a kickball team. Last year, there was even an all-company trip to Hawaii, which included group surfing lessons. All of this quality time has created a “huge boost” in company morale.
“We often have incredible late night brainstorming sessions on some of the outings, and it’s clear these have led people to become even more passionate about the product,” says Sujay Tyle, VP of business development.
The Startup That Plays Together Stays To
When you’re working in a team, it’s important that you like one another and understand where the others are coming from. Two heads are better than one because everyone has a different perspective, and if you can put some time and effort into getting to know your colleagues on a personal level, your company’s work will benefit from these multiple points of view.
Eventbrite‘s teams take quarterly off-sites — doing anything from river rafting to bowling — and the company does BBQs in the park, movie nights, happy hours and trips to Giants games. For the bold, there’s even an annual talent show with trophies (unfortunately, no footage was available).
Located just down the road, Klout employees enjoy their fair share of “Kloutings,” including a camping trip, trips to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and a St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl.
“These outings really help the team reinforce existing bonds and forge new bonds with newer employees as we grow the business,” says Lynn Fox, head of communications. “The fact that team members genuinely like each other makes them want their peers and the company to succeed.”
If you’re looking for a way to engage your team, think about the business you’re in — being on-brand reinforces the purpose of the company and reinvigorates your employees’ passion. Green Mountain Digital, a nature and wildlife app developer, seeks to connect people with the outdoors via technology. So for fun, the team heads to the great outdoors.
“We’ve done hikes, bird walks and fly-fishing classes with our apps … this summer, we’re planning a special event for our interns at Equinox’s British School of Falconry,” says CEO Brendan Cahill. “When we bring the team into these different environments, it really gives a new perspective to the content we build into our apps, as well as how we work together day-to-day.”
Likewise, artists swing by Spotify‘s offices for intimate concerts, and employees are encouraged to pause their tasks and drop by the session to see artists like Grouplove, Walk the Moon, Civil Twilight, Emeli Sande and the Kooks in the flesh. Another sweet perk that takes the term “outing” to an extreme: All new employees go through orientation in Stockholm, where they learn about the company and hit the town with their Swedish colleagues. Other out-of-office, team-building extracurriculars include a company softball team, trips to Yankees and Mets games, bowling nights and karaoke outings.
“When you’re growing a company there’s nothing more important than the team you build,” says Irving Fain, CEO of CrowdTwist, whose team frequently partakes in karaoke, neon bowling, Jenga competitions and wine tastings. “The journey is long, and even in the best of circumstances, it’s difficult. No one person can do it on their own, so everyone needs to rely on teamwork and trust in those around them. There’s no better way to foster those values than getting out of the office and spending time with the team away from the day-to-day grind. At the end of the day, we’re all people that have interests and passions outside of work, and it’s important to develop friendships and relationships with the people that you work with to reflect this reality.”
Hierarchy Goes Out the Window
Startups are a unique workplace, but they’re still a workplace and the people there are in “work mode.” Sometimes we need to let loose and not feel like we can’t say something to someone because he’s a superior. Outings facilitate conversations between people across various departments and throughout the company hierarchy.
“To get the greatest variety of thought from our team, we have to be a team in other contexts and other situations. When we do testing on the latest alpha of Wordy Bird or Quiz Night, we have conversations that aren’t going to come up during a Monday staff meeting,” says Mikhael Naayem, co-founder of Grantoo, a social gaming platform. “Where else is an unpaid intern going to call the co-founder ‘A lousy card-counting liar!’ and have everyone laugh about it?”
At the end of the day, people want to have fun — the more fun they have, the more they’ll look forward to going to work the next day. Startups are leading the charge with fun, bright environments and company cultures that foster collaboration, creativity and, most importantly, productivity. As is evidenced here, company outings are a crucial component of a good culture.
On December 14th we experienced a tragedy in our nation that will forever change how we live our lives and view the world we live in. The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut left many of us asking questions like “Is there any good that can come out of such a tragedy? Does something like this have any redeemable value?” The popular prayer adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous asks God to grant us “serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” It is a natural reaction for people to respond to catastrophic tragedies by looking for ways to do something, sadly there isn’t much that we can do to lessen the pain.
In the emotion of the moment many called for solutions regarding the issue of gun control, mental health and school safety. One of the most calming voices that emerged from the ashes of this tragedy has been ” 26 Acts of Kindness,” a grass roots movement that was started when “Ann Curry took to social media and asked people to imagine what would happen if all of us committed to 26 acts of kindness to honor each life lost in Newtown.” Many view this movement as the “courage to change the things you can.”
When we first heard about the movement, we wrestled with how we could participate as a company. We knocked around several philanthropic ideas, but most of them, although caring as they may be, seemed very reactionary. However, a question was poised “What are 26 kind things that we should do every day to our family members, to our friends, to ourselves and to strangers?” We were reminded that instead of planning a “Big Event” or limiting our kindness to a number to appease our need to do something, we should focus on truly being compassionate, loving people and invest ourselves into helping others.
Dale Carnegie gives a little piece of wisdom in his Golden Book; Principles for How to Win Friends and influence People on how we apply kindness to our everyday living that we would do well to take note of:
1. Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.
2. Give honest, sincere appreciation.
3. Arouse in the other person an eager want.
4. Become genuinely interested in other people.
6. Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most
important sound in any language.
7. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
8. Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.
9. Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.
As they say, having the attitude of “leaving it better than you found it” will do much to transform the chaos we see in this world into caring. For everyone you encounter, leave them a little better off and a little more happy than when you found them. And let’s not forget about ourselves. If we cannot find peace and happiness in our own lives, then how can we give peace and happiness to someone else?
What will you do to add value to your events this year? With the holiday season just around the corner special event planners’ stress levels begin to elevate as they begin to plan their yearly holiday office parties. Have you put together an event that you thought had all the components necessary to be successful only to find out it fell short in the eyes of the attendees? Why do so many events rarely hit the mark, and what are the key ingredients that might be missing from your events?
Whether you are an internal or external event planner, you need to provide exciting, engaging and successful events for your “groups.” When you do this, they will be satisfied, have fun and want to do it again. Having put together our fair share of successful company outings, here are four key ingredients that we at Group Dynamix feel are critical in order to conduct an appealing event:
Ingredient #1- Participation. Although bowling/bar events can be fun, they fail to engage the whole team. Events that encourage and provide a context for 100% participation are more successful.
Ingredient #2- Facilitation. Events that are facilitated and orchestrated to bring about a positive outcomes are going to have a longer lasting positive impact on your companies team.
Ingredient #3- Connectedness. Every individual wants to be part of something greater than themselves and do not want to feel like they are on an island. Relationships are critical to individuals. Interactive events provide a powerful context for individuals to connect through strategically planned activities.
Ingredient #4- Fun. At the end of the day if the group does not have fun, they will be far more skeptical of any future outings. This is the main ingredient to every successful event.
Challenge and outcomes: Understanding interactive events can help you provide powerful and successful events for your groups. By allowing them to succeed, you will succeed. You will provide an exciting venue that compels them to come back for more.
What supplies are needed? Roll of duct tape, a marker and poster board for each team.
Purpose Communication and collaboration.
How it’s played?
1. Set up: Take some duct tape and draw a circle about ten feet in diameter. Place a poster board or flip chart in the middle of the circle (one setup per team playing). Give each team a roll of duct tape and a marker.
2. Objective: To get the group to work together and draw a picture or a word on the poster board using only a marker and duct tape.
3. Draw a picture of a smiley face within ten minutes on the poster board using the marker.
4. The face, eyes and mouth are the basics that must be drawn within the ten minutes.
5. Any additional features on the face like hair, nose, ears, hats or jewelry are bonus points. 25 points awarded for each additional feature.
6. No one is allowed inside the duct tape circle. Fingers and hands are not allowed to cross the barrier of the circle.
7. No one can move the poster board from the middle of the circle. You may not remove the circle from the floor. No creative cheating, please.
8. Using the roll of duct tape and the marker, fashion a device that will allow you to suspend the marker into the circle, MacGyver style, and draw your smiley face.
9. Everyone must participate in the drawing and building. Processing questions:
1. What were some of the ideas that were talked about before achieving your goal?
2. What kind of leadership characteristics did it take to have everyone participate to achieve this goal?
3. On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best, how would you rank the success of your team and why?
4. Anything that you would do different?
Before helping start Group Dynamix in 1998, I labored in a lot of different work environments many of which the companies lacked any understanding of how to build effective teams. In fact, most never truly realized they had a need for team building until it was too late. Several of these companies nearly failed as they witnessed key employees leave followed by their key customers.
For decades, surveys have shown that the top thing employees want most from theirs jobs is not money but appreciation. Some might make the case that a bonus is a good way to show appreciation, but it’s more than that. People want to be valued by their organization, not just by their manager, the CEO, their project leader, but by their work groups. That’s why colleagues sometimes have more influence on employees’ work performance than their bosses.
Too often, companies encourage “silo thinking” with their employees in which collaboration, resource sharing, fruitful communication and other team attributes are limited in hopes the employees will be self-managed or self-directed. Unfortunately, that counters what employees rank as the second most important thing they want from their jobs – feeling “in” or better yet, feeling part of their groups.
Harken back to those drama-filled days of high school when you felt isolated from certain groups that you wanted to be a part, or the times that you felt you were the only one doing the work or cared about what you were doing. Feeling alone in work or play is discouraging. Most people can’t thrive without connection with others. When part of a team effort, people respond by working harder and seek success more for the group than personal accomplishment.
So how do you know if your group needs team building? The simple answer is “if they’re breathing.” Any group of individuals who share a work environment and are gathered to produce some outcome for their company could easily be called a team. The problem is teams don’t just happen, they are made. When you dump out a puzzle from its box, you can claim that all the pieces are there to produce an outcome. But how it turns out depends entirely on how the pieces fit together.
Group Dynamix employs a lot of different tools to help the build process. What is important about every tool we use is that it bridges a connection between the participants that establishes a relationship that carries forward. From that dynamic, “appreciation” and “feeling a part” becomes more realized and shared among the group.
As we spoke about in Part One of the series, an “era” is defined as a period of time marked by distinctive character, events, etc… I believe right now we are ushering in a unique and challenging era in corporate America. For the first time in history, employers are struggling to balance the different needs and working styles of four different generations in the workforce. What challenges are leaders faced with and what are some ways to successfully “bridge the generational gap” and build a great team?
Let’s begin by exploring the eldest generation represented in the workplace, the Traditionalists. As we learned last month, Traditionalists were born before 1946(before World War II) and are also called the Silent Generation). Some basic characteristics are:
Sharply dressed and often conservative
Believe that hard work has its own reward.
More comfortable in a command-and-control structured hierarchy.
Traditionalists value hard work, sacrifice, loyalty and a respect for authority.
How do the members of this generation typically operate in a work environment? They have a strong work ethic and will not hesitate to sacrifice to get the job done. Their style of communication is typically formal and sober and will tend to write notes rather than send email messages. They also struggle with technology and many times see it as a necessary nuisance.
How other generations might interact successfully with Traditionalists:
Baby Boomers believe in collective decision-making while Traditionalists believe in a more unilateral decision-making model. It behooves the Baby Boomer to demonstrate the value and power of collaborative thinking while respecting the Traditionalists paradigm.
Generation Xers do not like to be micromanaged while Traditionalists are accustomed to that model. Gen Xers must communicate fluidly and openly about outcomes. The more they communicate successes, the less the Traditionalists will want to know how you achieved them.
Generation Yers (Millennials) are comfortable in a remote, highly technological, team oriented environment while Traditionalist are used to more traditional approaches to work. Millennials will need to be patient with Traditionalists when it comes to the use of technology and as often as possible connect with them either on the phone or face-to-face.
Next month we will explore the Baby Boomers and how their characteristics and values impact the work environment. Stay tuned…
The place- The brand new Omni Hotel in downtown Dallas. The people – 160 Advancial employees. The Event – A Group Dynamix Amazing Journey.
As guests check into the Omni Hotel on January 15th, their curiosity is peeked by waves of laugher and cheers heard sporadically throughout corridors of this lavish hotel. Their curiosity turns to amusement as they see gaggles of green-shirted Advancial employees hurrying to various destinations throughout the hotel seeking clues or performing tasks before moving onto their next destination.
Advancial, who was voted one of “Best Companies To Work For” by the Dallas Morning News, Dallas Business Journal and Texas Monthly, prides itself on creating a great work environment. According to Brent Sheffield( Advancial President & CEO), they try not to take their work too seriously and have fun, and “having fun starts from the top down. ” As an example of their fun culture, during a circus event, Brent dressed as a circus ring leader and handed out animal crackers to employees around their office according to Heather Stalling, Business Relations Officer at Advancial. “The Leadership Team is always doing something fun to promote company activities and never ceases to wow us!”
So when they wanted to “wow” their employees again, they turned to Group Dynamix. Their stated goal was to bring individuals together whose primary interaction is over the phone. They didn’t know each other or have any shared experiences. They really wanted to build bonds that make their ties stronger so that at the end of the day shared an experience that lasts a lifetime.
At the end of the event, some of the Advancial employees were asked to share their thoughts of their Amazing Race. Here are some of their comments. ”This was an amazing event.” ” We want to do it next year.” “If I was going to build an event I would not change a thing.” So was GDX successful? In the words of Brent “When someone has nothing they can criticize you on than that is pretty special!”
During the post event interview, Brent stated, ” When we did this event, we looked at a number of companies to outsource to. GDX stood out head and shoulders above all the groups we talked to. They really matched our kind of corporate culture.”