workplace-team-building

Workplace Team Building Strategies with Chris Cavert, Ed.D.

Part 2 of Our Interview with Chris Cavert, Ed.D.

Dr. Chris Cavert is an internationally known educator, trainer and speaker and recipient of the AEE Karl Rohnke creativity award. He has been working with groups of all ages for more than 25 years. Chris is the author of over a dozen books related to activity-based experiential group development. He holds an undergraduate degree in physical education, a master’s degree in Experiential Education and an educational doctorate in Curriculum & Instruction. As an educator Chris focuses on how to use team building activities to develop social-emotional intelligence and pro-social skills within groups of all ages. For more information visit: FUNdoing.com

 


On a regular basis, what could a manager do in their role to help build a better team?

Build personal relationships with every member of the group that you as a manager supervise or are accountable for. If a manager is purposefully taking time to get to know everyone on his or her team, that opens the door to so many other problem-solving opportunities. You work through conflict a little faster and smoother if you know more about each other and each other’s needs. This to me is the simplest and most important thing for any manager who is leading people: put your pencil down and take the time to go out and talk to people.

A quote from my friend Molly Foote, that I use all the time is, “The more we know about someone, the less likely we are to hurt someone.” Connecting with people and getting to know them on a deeper level creates more empathy, strength around dealing with conflict, accepting each other’s differences, and the ability to work together to move forward.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Don’t take anything personally. In life and in being a leader, it’s hard to not take things personally when you’re being attacked by a person or a group of people who are really in need of help. But they attack the person who’s trying to help.

And the biggest challenge for leaders is not to avoid conflict. Because a lot of new managers I encounter will create an environment or will have behaviors that sweep things under the rug. They’ll do everything to avoid conflicts because they don’t want to deal with it. But that doesn’t move a group forward. Groups need to be able to push through difficult challenges.

I was given great advice years ago, that we need to experience difficulty so that we can learn to recognize and choose difference behaviors.

How can a manager get buy-in for their team building event? Because so often in this field, people hear “team building” and they might start to roll their eyes.

When people are forced to do something, they react to it and they’re defensive. And it takes longer to get through the defenses. So to me, it goes back to the whole personal relationship among team members aspect.  If you’re creating relationships and the group can get to a point of saying, “Wow. We did a great job together. We accomplished something.” That same group is also going to be able to say, “We really suck at this. We need help.” Only then are they ready to accept a change or outside people coming in to help. When the group is able to ask for help, that’s where the buy-in is.

What is a simple workplace team building exercise that a manager could deliver at their next staff meeting?

One of my favorite workplace team building exercises is actually on my blog. It’s called “Name Letter Opener.“It’s an easy activity to do where everyone gets index cards. Everyone gets the same amount of index cards as the number of letter in their first name. Then you write each individual letters of your name on a different index card.  Now gather everyone’s letters and challenge the group to create a single Scrabble-like puzzle with those letters. Using all the letters, create words that are spelled top to bottom, left to right. In every case I’ve done this, the group has been able to figure out how to use all the letters.

The group observes that not all their letters are in the same place. Their letters are likely used with other people’s letters, but probably not used with every other person’s letters. From there, the discussion is that we don’t have to sit all together at the same time on the same project. People have different skills and abilities and that’s okay. The more important question is, how do our skills and abilities work together so that we fit together as a group? It’s a simple activity that gives the group a sense of the diversity that they bring to each other.

How can people find out more about your work?

The easiest way is to go to my website at FUNdoing.com. There are a lot of team building related resource on there. And I have a blog that’s been going on for over a year now that also has a lot of workplace team building ideas. You can sign up for FUNdoing’s Friday email, which is a handful of team building ideas related to growing team and helping them be better at what they do. That comes to your inbox every Friday.

Perfect. Thank you again for your time, Chris.

team building myths

Exploring Team Building Myths with Chris Cavert, Ed.D.

Part 1 of Our Interview with Chris Cavert, Ed.D.

Dr. Chris Cavert is an internationally known educator, trainer and speaker and recipient of the AEE Karl Rohnke creativity award. He has been working with groups of all ages for more than 25 years. Chris is the author of over a dozen books related to activity-based experiential group development. He holds an undergraduate degree in physical education, a master’s degree in Experiential Education and an educational doctorate in Curriculum & Instruction. As an educator Chris focuses on how to use team building activities to develop social-emotional intelligence and pro-social skills within groups of all ages. For more information visit: FUNdoing.com

What is a one of the common team building myths you encounter?

A lot of people call outings team building. So in their mind going out together is building teams. And I don’t disagree with that. I think part of it is true in the sense of, when you do things together, you have an opportunity to learn about each other a little bit more. You’re going to have conversations. Find out similarities and differences. You’re going to see how people have fun, see how people deal with maybe challenges or stress. Because any kind of outings where you have to make decisions together has some level of stress or possibly conflict. So there are all those parts of building a team in there. What’s missing, is the idea of we’re reflecting on an experience. These outings that people call team building is more what I call accidental team building; it just kind of happens because you’re together.

Have you come across any misperceptions about team building in your work?

I think the overall idea of the misconception in team building is how a group of people are prepared for a team building experience. My most challenging situations with groups are where the main contact, whether it was a manager or the assistant to the manager wants the group to go do an activity to become better communicators because they’re having a hard time with understanding what each other’s needs are. So they want the group to work on team building. But when the group comes in, they have no idea that they were there to do professional development versus just coming to play and have some fun. In their mind, they were going to have some fun together. Because every year they go to a ball game or paint balling; that to them was their team building experience.

Well, now it’s been upgraded to a professional development experience but they didn’t know that. It should be more transparent to groups of what they are getting themselves into. It shouldn’t be a, “Surprise! You’re here. And now you have to work!” Because team building in the sense of professional development is work. We’re working at learning and growing. We’re working at deciding whether to keep, change, or get rid of certain behaviors. So I think that’s the biggest misperception: groups coming in without the understanding of the level of team building they’re going to be involved in.

What would you say is the biggest between a team building event versus a social event? You touch on this in your previous answers, but I’d like you to restate it.

It’s about the outcomes and the group understanding the outcome is going to be a more professional development program where we are going to learn something.  Professional development is about learning. That why the resume line item is, “What professional development have you been involved in?” not what social gathering have you been involved in.

What would you say the difference between teamwork and team building is?

Team building is exploring how the team functions. Explore how you as a team take on a task or work through a challenge by going out to do an experience together, I.e., go out and do some teamwork. Then reflect on the experience by looking at behaviors you want to keep change, or add. That time of reflection or skill development is team building.

So it sounds to me like teamwork would be a component of team building? You could have teamwork, as in people working together; but until you add in that professional development or reflection piece of it, it’s just that – teamwork.

Yes, exactly.

But if you want to transform teamwork into team building, you need to add some of these components you’re talking about?

I believe so. There’s got to be a purposeful reflection on something. It has to be an experiential learning cycle, not just an experience. We have to purposely look at how we do things to see if we want to keep or change them.

Now that we’ve covered the topic of team building myths, stay tuned for Part Two of our interview with Chris Cavert, Ed.D. next week. He’ll give some practical tips for managers on how to build better teams on a daily basis. Additionally, Chris shares a team building idea you can do right at your next office meeting!
workplace creativity

Workplace Creativity Cultivated: Try These 5 Simple Tips

“If you love what you do, you never have to work another day in your life” – Marc Anthony.

Every company has the potential of offering a fun, energetic and creative environment.  This is a positive place where people can be trusted to do their jobs because they are happy and inspired by their employer’s engagement strategy.

An engagement strategy is a business plan that focuses on keeping employees engaged in the work they are doing.  This can be accomplished by making cultivating workplace creativity a priority.  Cultivating workplace creativity is proven to increase employee productivity, retention, and sales.  As a result, companies have larger profits and happier workers.  Many companies have engagement strategies, but fail to implement them.  So try these five simple tips and see how workplace creativity strategies improves your business.

GAMIFICATION

Apply motivational techniques to everyday tasks to improve workplace creativity.  Video games hook their users with quick responses, goals, badges, transparency, competition, leveling up, and collaboration.  These same methods can be applied in the workplace.

  1. Quick Responses. Use weekly meetings to provide feedback and evaluations. Encourage employees to offer ideas via email and respond daily.
  2. Goals. Set clear, achievable, short term goals
  3. Badges. Provide awards or praise when employees reach these goals. Some companies use a point system.  Employees accrue points for reaching short term goals which can then be accumulated and traded in for larger prizes.
  4. Transparency. Let each employee know where they stand vs other employees.
  5. Competition. Transparency, goals, and badges create competition in the workplace. Competition is a great way to keep members engaged and cultivate creativity.
  6. Leveling Up. Offer training and opportunities for advancement
  7. Collaboration. Encourage people to team up, bounce ideas off each other and assist each other in reaching the goals.

OFFICE LAYOUT

Some people work best with an open floor plan. Others work best with a closed office space.  Why not have both? Offer options for a person’s own style.  Either a shared work table or a private cubicle.  When a person is comfortable in their environment, they will perform better.

OFFICE DÉCOR

People are more creative in a creative environment.  SO ADD COLOR!  Instead of standard fluorescent lights, use colorful lamp shades.  And put art on the walls.  No one wants to live in a beige world, so why are offices painted beige or white?  My high school math teacher painted our classroom bubble gum pink.  It was a horrible color, but he said it would make us focus better, and it actually did.  But I don’t recommend bubble gum pink. Instead, warm earth tones work well too.

EXERCISE

Motion gets the blood pumping, reduces fatigue and increases creativity.  Encourage regular stretching breaks. Teach techniques that can be employed at the desk like head rolls.  Offer a space for walking or stretching during lunch breaks.

WORKPLACE CREATIVITY CULTIVATED OUTSIDE OF THE WORKPLACE

Lastly, to cultivate creativity in the workplace, sponsor activities outside the workplace. A company softball team, wine and paint night or a weekend hike.  Community service projects are also great ways to bond employees and make them feel good about themselves.  Employees who feel good about themselves are more creative and loyal.

For more suggestions on cultivating creativity in the workplace and for team building options contact us at 877.267.1939 or email james@fireflyteamevents.com.

how successful teams make team building count

How Successful Teams Make Team Building Count

Congratulations on completing your team building experience!  You should now have a super powered team that is completely perfect.  No?  Your team is only mostly perfect?  Well, that’s because your team building should never be “completed.”  The value of any team building comes from reflection and implementation.  The actual activity, while probably awesome and Instagram-worthy, is neutral in achieving your goals.  Follow these strategic steps to create value for your team in between epic outings. 

Debrief, Debrief, Debrief!

During your event one of our team building ninjas likely led your group in a discussion about how your team performed during the challenge.  Your company likely already has a debriefing procedure or strategy in place to discuss how projects turn out. Debriefing is where we examine the experience to find the value and actionable data. The key with team building debriefing is the actual activity is inconsequential.  The specifics of what your team did to accomplish a team building challenge doesn’t matter nearly as much as how your group functioned. 

Michelle Cummings, a leader in team development and coauthor of A Teachable Moment warns “If participants are not allowed to reflect on their experiences and relate them to the outside world, then a lot of the learning may be lost” (Cummings. “Effective Debriefing Tools and Techniques”) Gather the team together once you’re back at the office.  Engage with the staff about how they felt and what they noticed after the activity.  You can even ask each member to write down one take away from the event. Utilize these takeaways as talking points in the future. Check out Cumming’s guide “Effective Debriefing Tools and Techniques” for some great ideas on switching up your debriefing technique. It will keep things fresh and interesting.

Check In

Regularly check back in with the team about their takeaways. Have they noticed any topics or trends that you discussed during the debrief? How have they been applying their takeaways to their current projects and responsibilities?  It doesn’t have to be a big meeting, but regular reminders will help strengthen the lessons and your team will ultimately get better at applying the concepts.  Forbes encourages managers to look at team building as an important investment.  As with most investments you don’t want it to go to waste.  You’ll need to provide “maintenance” on those lessons if you want them to continue working.

Remember the Team Building Fun

If a staff member groans about team building, you’re doing it wrong.  One of the most important elements of successful team building is buy in. Buy in requires trust, clear targets, and a transparency. Don’t make assumptions on behalf of your staff’s perceptions.  I stated that the activity is immaterial, but there is a reason we host dodgeball tournaments or graffiti experiences and not Power Point presentations.  Intrigue and excite your staff and they’ll be more likely to support the activity. You can still have a powerful experience with a “fun” activity. 

Continued Investment

Book another event!  I know, shameless self promotion right?  But for truly meaningful team building one outing a year isn’t going to make a drastic difference.  Show your staff you want to invest in them by making time for multiple employee enriching activities.  This will increase their engagement in both the process and your company.

To continue your team building journey or if you want to begin this adventure of staff enrichment contact us at james@fireflyteamevents.com or 877.267.1939

team building corporate management conflict

Embrace Conflict To Be A Better Manager

Ask any business person who’s worked up the ranks to Chief Executive Officer, and they’ll tell you that building a successful company begins by creating a solid foundation among staff members. That occurs once a team can work together with a high degree of trust. So how exactly do you capitalize on creating a high-trust environment in your workplace? You create conflict!

Patrick Lencioni, author of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team has said, “Not finance. Not strategy. Not technology. It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare.” When a team can work thru conflicts that arise in the workplace, they lay the groundwork for trust, problem solving, and accountability.

Focus on Trust to Activate Healthy Conflict

Vulnerability is quite possibly the number one reason your team isn’t making significant gains. The reasoning is simple: No one clocks in for the day ready to let their inadequacies surface at the morning staff meeting. As a result, group members tend to spend a significant amount of time attempting to save face in front of their team rather than focusing on the task at hand.

Conflict fosters a healthy discourse among staff members that paves the way for teams to build an interpersonal trust. This authentic, vulnerability-based trust allows staff to feel safe when asking for help, accepting input, and admitting shortcomings. A February 2016 publication of The New York Times Magazine entitled “What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team” stated that, “Google’s data indicated that psychological safety, more than anything else, was critical to making a team work.” When a team has reached this level of trust, you’ll see an immediate increase in productivity. It will take time, but the results are more than worth it for your organization!

Conflict Leads to Problem Solving. Problem Solving Leads to Results

Teams are not void of conflict. Differences in personality, opinion, and values among group members can lead to disagreements in how to accomplish a given task. However, many business leaders fail their staff when they attempt to stifle disagreements as a means of steering clear of drama.

On the contrary, conflict is extremely productive! When teams are free to engage in healthy conflict, they’re able to reach the best solutions in the shortest amount of time. Allowing resolution to happen naturally and in a trusting environment, gives staffers the freedom to engage in problem solving strategies without any collateral damage.

Conflict Leads to Accountability

A team that fails to hold its own members accountable, is not a team at all. In fact, teams can only exist when members hold each other to a high standard. They understand the benefits of peer-to-peer accountability far outweigh the momentary discomforts associated with confronting a fellow teammate.

In fact, regular and honest communication among team members will help to identify problems within the group much more quickly. To better serve your team, clearly identify team expectations publicly and avoid ambiguity.

As you can see, a little conflict will go a long way in building a strong foundation for your business. Embrace conflict as a means of building trust, obtaining quality results, and team-based accountability. When you do, you’ll see your business thrive!

If you’d like to embrace trust and positive conflict, contact us at http://www.fireflyteamevents.com

group cheering 5 reasons to outsource team building

5 Reasons You Should Outsource Team Building

Already convinced your business would benefit from a team building event? Thinking of taking matters into your own hands? Think again! The effect on productivity for the individual assigned to plan can be significant. Here are FIVE simple reasons to leave the team building to pros like Firefly Team Events:

You Get All the LOVE

FireFly Events evaluates your group and helps you select the event-type that will help foster success amongst your team.  We work with you to evaluate your business’ current goals and tailor a team building activity to match your organization’s needs.  The bonus?  YOU get to take the credit for a well-executed event without any personal liability!

We Say What You Can’t

In any corporation, big or small, some messages are more easily digested when they come from a third party source.  Our facilitators will assist as you roll out new company policies, conduct trainings, or collaborative events, all in a neutral and safe environment for you and your staffers.    

Fresh Team Building Ideas

Our FireFly team is second to none and specializes in providing an extensive variety of engaging team building events.  Looking for a way to develop your team’s identity or tap into the energy of your group?  Consider our Graffiti Challenge: Mural Madness to hone in on a big picture concept for your group! Check out our post on 10 Ideas for your next holiday party.

DIY = Lost Productivity

By leaving the event planning to FireFly’s capable team, you’re investing in your business!  Electing to “do it yourself” drains valuable resources in no time.  Our team focuses on creating an unforgettable event while yours is free to keep business operations running smoothly.   We’ll handle staffing, permits, supplies, and logistics. 

We Understand Group Dynamics

You won’t find wallflowers during our team building events!  We make a living understanding group dynamics and have a reputation for hosting memorable challenges.  We boost engagement thru events that are designed to be accessible to all participants. Motivating groups made up of different personalities is part of our expertise. We keep the group engaged effectively without being cheesy.

Bonus: Don’t Over Simplify

A team building event is more than a dinner reservation or bowling. Events need to be designed to increase engagement and contribute to the company culture. A true team building uses the activity as a lens to discuss office dynamics, relationships, conflicts, communications styles, or procedures. This can be done in fun creative ways but it takes time to design an effective challenge.

If you’re a business in the Orange County, San Diego or Los Angeles area call FireFly Team Events for your next corporate team building outing!  877.267.7149

Quick Communication – How to Talk With Coworkers

Everyone has a communication style. Whether it’s data driven, full of emotions, or direct and to the point we all need to hear information in a manner that makes sense to us. Here’s a quick reference graphic you can use to try and gauge the social currency your teammates need. We explore communication styles more in depth through our Communication Quadrants. Email us at james@fireflyteamevents.com if you’d like to explore options for your team.

explanation of communication styles in team building

Orange County Team Building that Gives Back: Corporate Social Responsibility

Charity team BuildingCorporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in team building usually refers to adding a charitable or environmental element to your event. The combination of CSR with team building can lead to community involvement, environmental stewardship and it shows the world what your company stands for. Studies have shown that employee retention is stronger when employees are allowed to devote a portion of their work week to volunteering. A great CSR event is energizing and inspiring and often leads to a more productive workforce.  In 2014 Hewlett-Packard had 40,000 employees in 82 countries log more than 1.6 million volunteer hours. What will your impact be?

Need ideas? We LOVE partnering with companies that want to make a difference. We are constantly finding new ways to partner our clients and worthy causes. Our most common charitable team building events are the Charity Bike Build and the Care Package Assembly. These are common sights at Sales Conferences, quarterly meetings, and incentive trips here in Orange County. The beauty of either of these events is that there is always a need and we can complete an event in a couple of hours.

What if I want to do MORE? Your people are your biggest resource because of the skills, knowledge, and heart they bring to your organization. What if you could leverage that skill on behalf of a local charity? You probably have people dedicated to sales, marketing, and technical areas. Why not channel their talent to revitalize the processes, marketing materials, and website of a local charity? Instead of helping a few people, you lay the groundwork for exponential good. Charities often lack the funds or expertise to accomplish what your team could do in a single session. Charitable team building shouldn’t always be about donating it should also be about empowering, teaching, and inspiring. Our  Help-A-Thon service is perfect for facilitating these types of interactions. Interested? Call us at 877.267.1939 or email james@fireflyteamevents.com

 

2 Great Orange County Catering Companies for Team Building

We love food here at Firefly Team Events!

As event planners and team builders we get to see other facets of the event industry like food service. We see a lot of catering companies and they’re not all created equal. If you need a catered lunch for a team building event or a spectacular dinner we HIGHLY recommend the caterers below. They are highly professional and make DELICIOUS food for any events in Orange County, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Newport Beach, Mission Viejo, Laguna Beach, and more.

Creme De La Creme

http://www.cremedelacremefoods.com/

24 Carrots

http://24carrots.com/

They can even create tasty box lunches for your group for before or after your event. After you figure out the food… don’t forget to book the team building with us. =) 877.267.1939

 

 

Team Building Event Tip: Move it Off-site

Leave Your Work Now Moving your team building event away from the workplace or conference site increases engagement, removes distractions, and allows your employees to relax and invest more in the experience. . We’ve found that our clients have a much higher attendance rate when they shift their team events to an offsite venue like a park or hotel. Work comes with a lot of responsibilities and distractions for your team members when they’re onsite. It can be hard to say no to a last minute request from a coworker in a different department. That  todo list is sooooo close if they just snuck away for 10 minutes. Shifting the event to a different venue helps focus your team members on the experience allowing them to give themselves permission to relax and enjoy. This is key to having a successfull team event no matter if it’s team bonding or team building.

If you need ideas for offsite venues check in with our event specialists at 877.267.1939. Or take a look at our post about 3 Great Orange County Team Building Locations

Cheers,

Team FireFly!