Tag: Teamwork

Team Building with virtual and live participants – learnings from Event Camp Twin Cities 2011

It has been almost a month since Event Camp Twin Cites 2011 (ECTC11) and I’ve had time to reflect on what I learned about creating team building sessions in a hybrid meeting environment. I wanted to share those insights with you.

Background:

Back in late June, Ray Hanson asked me to help develop an interactive team / gaming experience for ECTC11.  We wanted to push the envelope and go out on a limb in creating a hybrid meeting experience that was different than anything that had been done before – in other words, we wanted to create a customized hybrid team building program that was interwoven throughout the entire two-day event where both live and virtual participants were working together on the same team doing real team building challenges.

To the best of our knowledge, this had not been done before.

Sure, there have been sessions before where live and virtual participants were placed on teams and worked on challenges.  Any number of technology suppliers provide the means for people to compete in a trivia challenge or earn badges where their scores or efforts get rolled up to a “team.”

 This isn’t team building – it is team gaming. 

Team gaming allows for individuals to participate and compete and even feel like they are part of a team but it doesn’t allow for a deeper, more sustained bonding and trust building that are necessary for team building.  If you want to add some energy and fun for an hour into your event, team gaming challenges are great.  If you want to help teams work better together and really get to know the people that they are on a team with, you need to do team building.

We used ECTC11 as a laboratory to try to see if this could be done in what we called “The Great Event Camp Challenge.”

What we did:

As mentioned before, team gaming for events is not too daunting – as long as you are focusing on individual participation from both live and virtual participants.  However, creating a custom team event for a hybrid audience presented some significant challenges.  We needed to look at how people engaged in the event, how they communicated with each other, how learnings were going to be processed, and how teams would work together as a team and not just as individual participants.

For the Great Event Camp Challenge, we decided to interweave the team sessions throughout the event.  We developed three different avenues for teams to participate:

  1. Team Challenges
  2. Team Badges
  3. Team Case Study

Each of the avenues provided teams with ways to earn points.  Ultimately, we had decided that we wanted this event to be competitive to help keep teams engaged and attentive.  The team with the most points won. 

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Building Teams – Is There a Growing Need?

Back in 1997, when The Lantern Group started almost 70% of our work focused on team development.  We did everything from on-going team development consulting with managers, to team assessments,  to experiential  ropes courses, to developed a number of fun and effective team building events.  Over the years, our focus shifted to other aspects of the business and our team development work decreased until for the last few years it comprised just under 10% of our revenue. 

But this year, something has changed.

Since February we have received more inquiries about doing team building programs than we have in the past two or three years combined.  These are both big and small programs – from groups 200 plus to small executive teams of 8-10 people.  The managers and VPs that we’ve talked to have indicated that they want to do something to help increase the effectiveness of their team while also providing them with a fun activity that can be a diversion from the everyday stress they have been under.

Normally I would just count my blessings and be thankful for leads coming in.   But this drastic increase has made me wonder, “why?”  Why the increase?  Why now?

I have a few theories:

1.  Pent up need – because of the recession, companies did not have budget that they could use to help build their team and improve bonding.

2. Changes in the teams – either through layoffs or attrition, team dynamics have changed and there is a need to improve how people work together

3. Need to have fun, but with a message – again, due to the recession, many companies have had people working under significant stress, longer hours, with more responsibility.  Astute leaders see that there is a need to let their people unwind and yet they want to make sure that there are some learnings and insights to be had

4. Work itself has changed – the very nature of work has changed with more people working off-site, more technology, more need to collaborate in new ways.  Good leaders use team development programs to help sort that out.

What are your thoughts?   Do you think there is a growing need?  Please leave a comment.

The 4-Drives and Motivation at Oak Ridge Hotel & Conference Center

A few weeks ago Susan and I spent the day interviewing 11 employees at Oak Ridge Hotel & Conference Center  in Chaska, MN (see Oak Ridge Part 1 here).  We had observed that Oak Ridge had “gotten the formula right on employee motivation” and wanted to probe more to find out how.  From our original findings, we highlighted five things that stood out: 1) leadership counts, 2) It is not about the money, 3) It is about the team, 4) Genuine recognition rejuvenates and 5) It is all about appreciating people.  I’m taking a different approach this time, looking at it from the 4-Drive Model and seeing how each of the drives showed up in the 11 interviews.

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