At first glance you wouldn’t think building a team is like hiking a mountain. The last weekend of summer, Labor Day Weekend, I had an opportunity to hike Mt. Audubon in the Roosevelt National Forest with a group of friends. As much as I enjoy my job I make it a general rule to try not to think about work on the weekend. But listening to and observing my hiking mates I couldn’t help but think about how building a team is like hiking a mountain.
Within our group we had a range of physical abilities from those who are accustomed to 10,000 foot elevation to those who are more used to sea level altitude. At the beginning of the hike it was important to be clear about expectations and what success meant for each person – it wasn’t necessarily reaching the 13,233 foot summit for everyone. That same good clear communication is vital in the workplace. It’s important for organizations to be clear about goals – from sales goals to safety goals. Building a team environment is enhanced when you celebrate milestones like many companies are doing with philanthropic teambuilding.
I noticed a lot of leap frogging during our five and half hour hike. Some hikers went in bursts passing us, then later we’d pass them as they were resting, and they’d pass us again after a recharge. Others took a “slow and steady wins the race” approach with a more even pace to the top. Like personality styles, there’s not a right or wrong way, it’s neither good nor bad – it’s just different. For example, when our clients learn about personality styles in our teambuilding workshop Rescue Bear, they see that each style adds value to the team. A Driver is a Driver and an Expressive is pretty consistently an Expressive. Once you come to understand and appreciate those differences the resulting communication will be consistent.
Everybody brings something to the table. On our hike there was a person with a map and GPS, another person keeping an eye on the time and any impending weather to ensure we got to the top and back safely. Even the person with a quick joke to take our minds off how tired our feet are was an important member of the team. Good leaders realize that when building a team it’s important to draw in people with varied skills for peak collaboration.
When the day is done and you’re rounding the final switchback and the parking lot is in site you have the satisfaction of knowing you accomplished something great together. Every day at work won’t be like climbing a 13,000 foot mountain, but when building a team you can strive to be clear, be consistent and be collaborative to make your workplace a better environment.
This article was written by Colette Peterson. Colette is a Corporate Team Building Consultant with The Leader’s Institute headquartered out of Dallas Texas. You can reach Colette at 800-872-7830.