Benefits of team building
September 20, 2017
The first team building experience I ever had was when I worked in the multinational banking department at the Bank of Boston. Our entire department, about 25 of us, traveled to Saugus, Mass., to the family-owned Kowloon restaurant. My boss, a VP at the bank, wore a grass skirt and Polynesian head-dress, so out of character from the woman I knew to be matter-of-fact and to the point, sometimes even sharp at times. As a low-level account administrator, I had little interaction with her, but on that night, I sat next to her. I saw her in a different light: She was funny, kind, and full of stories. She also got to know me as someone other than the young woman who sat in cubicle number 16.
At Goodwin, we do two team building events each year. In fact, two weeks ago, we ventured off to an escape room. We were randomly divided into two teams, and, yes, then locked in a room together, tasked with figuring out how to escape.
It was great, and we had a lot of fun. We relied on each other’s strengths and different viewpoints to successfully escape. And we laughed, especially when one (who will remain nameless, though he knows who he is) didn’t notice the briefcase in the back of a cupboard. And, I will add, just for the record, one team escaped and the other did not.
These experiences are not just fun; they provide an opportunity for co-workers to interact with one another in very different ways and to see one another through a different lens. We begin to see one another as a fellow human being versus a “co-worker,” someone who has feelings, hopes, and dreams, etc. When we return to the office, we then interact with that person a little bit differently. While we have this shared experience to talk about, laugh about, and reminisce about together, we also are more likely to be supportive, give the benefit of the doubt, or even lend a hand.
These shared experiences that give us the opportunity to interact with those people we may not interact with on a daily basis, which then creates a desire to support one another and begins to build team cohesion. The natural outcome of that is an understanding of the group as an entity versus a group made up of smaller independent units.
There is no magic experience, no specified guidelines to follow — just get your team out of the office and do something together. The experience will help your team grow immensely. And these events don’t need to cost loads of money. Last summer, our team went mini-golfing together — okay…one person is still a little sore because he didn’t win, but what great fodder for the rest of us!
Sometimes that is all it takes to make it through tougher times: the ability to remember something fun and laugh.
Anne Converse Willkomm
Director of Graduate Studies