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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!
team-building-scavenger-hunt

The Techno Rally: A Bold And Crazy Team Building Scavenger Hunt

Looking for a great way to get your group out of the meeting room and into the glorious sunlight? Imagine doing just that while also building strong working relationships in the process. These are the big draws for our ever popular Techno Rally team building scavenger hunt.

Location, Location, Location

First, pick any location. Our clients have been spotted arm-wrestling senior citizens and admiring Manic Panic hair-do’s in various parts of Los Angeles and Orange County. Any interesting location where you are having a meeting or group event is an option. Then, let us create a hilariously wacky adventure that your co-workers will thank you for arranging.

The Team Building Scavenger Hunt Is On!

Your group will be mixed into teams who will take on crazy challenges like re-enacting high school prom photo poses. So, we’ll give them a chance to cheese it up and chase each other down as they race against the clock to complete as many challenges as possible. Groups begin by picking team names that will strike fear in the hearts of their opponents. Then, each team will pick an “App Master” who will download our scavenger hunt mobile app. The app keeps the group in check as to what’s next on the timed agenda. Strategy is key because there’s no way to complete all tasks in the time allotted. Groups must wisely choose which tasks to tackle for the most points.

Finally, they’re off to snap photos with iconic local structures, interact with the locals, and other outlandish actions. Teams will be virtually race each other as they move up and down the app’s leader board throughout the event. And lastly, they must make it back to the final meeting point before the buzzer. We turn off the leader board results in the final moments, so the winner will be a surprise to all participants. The first round of drinks are on the winning team!

Personalization For The Win

Clients can add personal touches to the event with trivia questions or other checkpoint challenges related to the company. We will help you design the event to drive home a deeper team building message to everyone on your team. Contact James Bennett at james@fireflyteamevents.com to get a-movin’ and make this adventure happen!

los-angeles-team-building

5 Fresh Ideas for Los Angeles Team Building Events

I love L.A., we love it!  We could sing all day of our love for Los Angeles. You will too when you see the endless team event opportunities in the City of Angels.  Team building is not only a fun mental break for your employees, but it also shows them that you value their well-being.  According to a Gallup study, 75% of workers leave their bosses, not their companies.  Be the boss your employees don’t want to leave while strengthening team bonds with these top Los Angeles team building activities.

I’m A Rocket Man

Your colleagues will seriously wonder, “how can this be my job?!” as they have a blast with our Launch It! Rockets event. The California Science Center is the perfect backdrop for your group to soak in the genius as they take on the challenge of designing, creating, and launching their own water rockets.

I Will Survive

Work together or die (figuratively); that’s the premise of our Manic Panic Escape Room event. There’s no better way to escape the clutches of madness than in any of the funky, mid-mod meeting spaces at The Standard, Downtown Los Angeles. For one hour, your group will have to think fast to solve mind-bending puzzles as the time whittles down. Lastly, they’ll make their escape to the final point: the rooftop bar for celebratory cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.

He’s Going the Distance, He’s Going For Speed

Yes, there may be moments of silliness, but our Techno Rally is guaranteed to cause laughter and bonding moments. Even better as you race through Los Angeles’ historic Olvera Street and Chinatown districts. Start at the iconic Los Angeles Union Station. From there, teams will divide and conquer as they wind up, down, and through the maze of history on our technology-based scavenger hunt event.

Work It, Make It, Do It!

Your group chooses one word that invokes a strong meaning and learns how to spray, dazzle, and dot their canvas in our Team Graffiti event. It’s big picture thinking guided by our world class graffiti artist. We can set up this creative and cutting edge art challenge anywhere (even indoors!) but there is nowhere better in the Los Angeles area than next to the iconic graffiti walls at Venice Beach.

All I Want To Do Is Have Some Fun

Team play is top priority for our Iron Team Challenge. Multiple challenge games that test the communication, cooperation, and critical thinking skills of your team can be set up on Santa Monica Beach.  Bring your team outside and they’ll want to keep playing until the sun comes up on Santa Monica Boulevard! 

We’re Los Angeles Team Building Gurus

Gather your team and make yourself the hero by incorporating some fun into their work life.  Having happier, healthier, and more engaged employees will be a positive by-product.  If you’re ready to partner with us on your next Los Angeles team building adventure, 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

office team building nerf battle

Office Team Building Idea: Stage a Nerf Battle!

Here’s your excuse to buy that rotating triple barrel precision shot Nerf blaster you’ve been eyeing in the toy section.  Play, such as firing foam darts, is a valuable office team building activity that can actually increase productivity by providing employee fun.  And yes, I’m serious about this.  I never joke about fun.

The Power of Play

As children we are encouraged to play to strengthen our creativity, build problem solving skills and improve communication.  Once we grow up however, we’re expected to stop playing and focus on “work”.  Work tends to involve using creativity and communication to solve problems, so why does play suddenly become unimportant once our ages pass the range listed on toy packaging?  Scientists like Stuart Brown have been studying the correlation between play and success at the National Institute for Play. Psychologists have begun encouraging adults to harness the power of play so that we can continue to reap the benefits of it.

Office Team Building Nerf Battle: A How-To

Meanwhile, foam violence has been sweeping across the offices of America with widespread popularity. Online retailers like ThinkGeek have even developed sections of their websites for the sport of Office Warfare.  Rather than stage a potential HR headache-causing battle between staff, we love Dude Perfect’s use of a challenge course and competitive play in this YouTube example-

While Dude Perfect’s intensive setup is awesome, don’t feel you need such a big production for some great office team building.

  • Try scrawling target designs on Post Its and stick them around the office.
  • Once someone hits a target, they collect it as a trophy.
  • At the end of the event you can tally up the scores by counting the collected Post Its.

For an ongoing team building game, stick targets up unannounced.  Staff can race to be the first to notice and shoot the new target.

For help getting your play on at your office, sales meeting or conference give us a call at 877.267.1939 or email james@fireflyteamevents.com.

corporate group team building escape room

Mobile Escape Room – Team Building @ Pasea Hotel

The clock was counting down and nobody wanted to see it hit ZERO! That was the scene during our mobile escape room experience at the Pasea Hotel in Huntington Beach for our client’s team building sessions. The first few moments are chaos and then the wheels start turning. Your group begins to unravel the puzzles, tasks, and challenges that lead to the answer. Switches get flipped to reveal important information. Wires are cut to avoid catastrophic meltdowns. If your team makes the right moves, communicates well, and can embrace trust they’ll save the world.

escape room team building corporate group meetingFor this client they had 2 groups of 15 people that they wanted to pit against the super villain we built our room around. We ran the room in 2 sessions with a debrief at the end. In the team building world we know that it’s not the activity that is important. It’s how your group shows up and performs during the activity. The debrief allows us to help the group reflect on the experience and draw meaning from the day. Escape rooms are a natural fit for team building and we LOVE watching the excitement build as the groups solve our puzzles. They’re an exciting new way for groups in Los Angeles and Orange county to revisit the skills that successful team need to succeed.

Add an escape room team building experience to your next conference, meeting or outing in Los Angeles, Orange County, or San Diego. Call us at 877.267.1939

Remote Office Sharing with Hoffice?

I recently came across the concept of the Hoffice. It’s a fledgling movement in Sweden that gives working from home a twist. Instead of heading to a cafe or working by yourself, other telecommuters are invited to share someones home. They work in silence for 45 minute blocks. In between those blocks they chat, exercise, etc. I know that when I work from home I am VERY easily distracted (cats). I haven’t tried co-working spaces because they usually seem claustrophobic and… too quiet. I like the way Hoffice blends interaction and productivity. If you’d like to read more about it – check out the article on BBC News – > http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20161230-the-swedes-ditching-desks-to-work-from-strangers-homes

Or head to the Hoffice website – http://hoffice.nu/en/

 

 

men holding bicycle during charity bicycle team building event

3 Charity Team Activities for Sales Meetings

No doubt over the next several weeks, your company will hold a sales meeting to share in the corporate successes of 2016 and discuss the best interest of your organization for the new year.  As far as your employees can expect, it’ll be conducted as many a sales meeting before, with talk of market strategy and bottom lines.    

Imagine, if you will, a scene in which your sales meeting is coupled with a charitable team building event!  Suddenly your attendees are talking more than facts and figures; they’re actively engaged in a task that will transform the community you serve!  Several options exist to make your upcoming meeting the best it’s ever been!


Charity Bicycle Builds

A symbol of freedom and possibility, your teams will assemble bicycles for youth in your community.  Make a true difference in the lives of at-risk children by partnering with The Boys & Girls Club of America or your local YMCA.  For many of these children, you’ll build and deliver the very first bicycle they’ve ever owned!

Group Team Building EventScience Kits for Kids

A child’s early engagement in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) will help to pave the way to high-demand careers in their future.  Spark innovation in the mind of a child as you team with a nonprofit in your area, such as KidWorks of Orange County, to fill backpacks with science related materials.   

Care Packages

Donate your time and resources to boosting the spirits of children when you partner with local charities like Human Options and Families Forward.  Smiles are genuine when they receive backpacks and teddy bears made with love.

For more information or to book your charitable San Diego, Orange County, or Los Angeles event, contact james@fireflyteamevents.org.  You can rely on more than ten years of industry know how when FireFly Team Event’s coordinates an experience tailored specifically for your organization.  It’ll be an event that neither your organization’s employees nor those you help will ever forget!

title card team building blog interview

Part 2: Interview With Mike Cardus

Part 2 of our interview with Mike Cardus of Team Building & Leadership

What is your favorite Networking Activity?
A team building activity in and of itself is useless. It is like yelling “RED!”.  When I have people come together who do not know each other very well, I enjoy using Social Network Un_Plugged as an opening to find connections and align the group with what we hope to accomplish.

Describe a DIY team building tool/activity for a meeting planner or manager?

Distinctive | Working Well | 100 Days better

a. Break into groups of 4 to 6

b. Each team has a piece of flipchart paper and several markers c. Break the paper into 3 columns:

i. Distinctive = What stands out and makes our team or what we do as a team distinctive? Unique features, how we

approach the work, skill sets, etc..

ii. Working Well = What is already working well enough that it does not need much change or improvement?

iii. 100 Days Better = When we meet again in 100 days what will our team be better at, how will we know this is better?

d. The teams have 25-45 minutes to complete the activity e. They share what they wrote

f. Each team chooses 1 or 2 items from the 100 Days Better column and develops an action plan and reporting process to share with the larger team.

How can a manager maximize the effectiveness of a team building activity?

  • Don’t call it an activity … don’t offer team building activities.
  • The greatest thing a manager can do is connect the team building directly to the work that the team is asked to accomplish.
  • Listen to the team and what they need. Then develop a plan to supply the team with what they asked for, and reflect back to the team how the manager is making the changes.

What is your best advice for building teams?

Systems-drive- behaviors. If your team structure lacks the clarity of goals, roles, procedures, resources, and support to accomplish the teams work.

The manager would be more useful focusing on those things as opposed to wasting everyone’s time with a team building event.

What is your favorite trend in corporate team building?

 I am worried that any trend will hurt the team building consultants who try to change how a team’s work gets done. Team building works when it sustains performance; satisfies their customer; the team wants to stay together, and the people on the team gained personal development from the teams work.

What’s your funniest team building memory?

Many years ago while working for a corporate conference center, a CEO wanted us to develop a ‘Survivor Themed’ team building program, complete with physical, mental challenges and the team voting someone out at the end. I tried to offer alternatives and shared my concern about this type of event. My manager at the conference center, to keep the client happy, insisted I develop and lead this program as the customer requested.

We went through the three days of challenges, laughter, recreational team bonding and heavy drinking by the campfire. On the last day, I pulled out the voting box and explained to the team that they are now going to ‘vote out’ one of their teammates.

Many people on the team turned white with anxiety. The CEO encouraged the people to write down the name of the person they wanted to vote off the team (he let them know that this person would still have a job, this was not a group termination).

People started crying and yelling at the CEO. The CEO asked for a brief break and pulled me aside. He asked, “Can you do something about this. They are not enjoying the team building.” I smiled and said, “I think so. When we call the team together tell them that the voting out was my idea, and you don’t think that it fits with the success we’ve had these past three days. Instead, people are going to vote for the Most Valuable Player, Best Problem Solver, Master Influencer, Team Connector and Surprise Physical Strength.” He nodded called the team over and shared the new message. Sudden applause!

The CEO thanked me and was still confused why they did not like the idea of voting someone off.

See more from Mike on his website – http://create-learning.com/