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Off-site Team Building

By Zach

Are you on a team or working with a team that keeps hitting road blocks?  I have been on teams in the past be it planning an event, church committee, denomination level leadership...  it can incredibly frustrating as a team leader and member to be spinning your wheels or the feeling that even simple things are difficult.  Reflecting back on these instances 90% of the frustration rooted in some communication gaps.

In a recent staff training we held with our seasonal team members we played a really simple team building game.  The larger team was split up into smaller groups of 4 or 5.  One person was designated as the "viewer" and the others as the "drawers".  The viewer recieved a simple drawing that was a couple shapes that overlapped.  The drawers had to face a way from the viewer.  The drawers couldn't see original and the viewer couldn't see the new version.  The viewer had to describe to the drawers exactly what to draw.

Some of the groups were mildly sucessful, but most were a far cry from the original.  There are several lessons here.  (1) people see & hear things differently...  "draw a big rectangle" is 100% relative to how big, big is to the other person.  (2) using just one form of communication doesn't portray the entire message... There are details that one side or the other just automatically assumes to be there...

As I think back on teams that I have been on, reguardless of how much experience each person brought to the team, or how skilled members were, the real strength of the team is in the collective efforts and ability of the entire team.  In short its not about how good I am but more so about how good WE are.  The old saying "There's no I in team." How true!

So you want to take your team to the next level?  There is no magic button that makes that happen overnight.  Here are some recomendations.  Include some team building activities regularly in staff meetings.  Not just the first thing you find when you google team building activities, but read through the activities and try to find ones that will be meaningful to your team based on the current challenges they are facing.  Consider some regular team building events lead by someone from outside of your organization.  Depending on how often your team turns over members regular may be once a quarter, once a year, every couple years...  Lake Williamson Christian Center's Eagle Crest Adventures offers a full line of team building activities.  Each team building event whether it be on the BarnQuest high ropes course, low ropes elements, or in cooperative games is designed to engage the entire team, work through and problem solve cooperatively, and to engage a wide range of skill sets.

The product in regular team building activities and off-site events are: (1) your team will be working on completing a task that is not normally part of their day to day job assignment.  This creates a "safer" environment to try new ideas, develop skills, and rely on other people because there are no big consequences outside of the current activity.  (2) through the trails, possible frustration, and many attempts at an activity emerges a team that is a little more connect (because of their shared experience), a team that is a little wiser (because of their shared experience), and a team that is a little bit more aware of the skill sets of the others on their team (because of their shared experience).

Some ideas to take your team to the next level:

  • Before your next big event, take a planning retreat to the location.  Many Lake Williamson & Lake Placid retreat planners bring their entire team out for a property visit to work on coordinating their event's schedule and ways to utilize the venue.  While you're on site add in some team building.
  • Plug in some regular team building activities in your staff meetings.  Our team building program director, Jeffery Gosnell has some great started ideas on the Eagle Crest Adventures section of our downloads page.  He'd be happy to give you some extra help in this area.

How has taking your team off-site helped build relationships?

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Based at Lake Williamson / PO Box 620 / Carlinville, IL 62626