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"Before we knew it we had learned more about each other, considered how to work more effectively together and had a lot of fun"
In September 2001 Fresh Tracks (a team building events company) worked with an international law firm who were keen to conclude a team away day with some high impact team building event that would be creative, unusual and fun. We agreed to provide an afternoon's programme of team tasks that would challenge this demanding and hard-working group and encourage them to think about their individual and joint contributions to the team.
The company is a major international law firm with its principal office in the City of London and a worldwide network of offices.
Aims and Objectives
The firm's Commercial Litigation team had planned a two-day meeting to examine practice and client needs. They wanted to complement this internal analysis with a learning session that would be somewhat more light-hearted, and would ensure the conference ended on a high note, sending the team away positive and energised.
The busy Commercial Litigation team don't often have time to take stock of their role as team members. Our main objective was to therefore enable the team to work together more effectively.
The programme was developed with liaison with the firm's Head of Training, who let us know, in no uncertain terms that the programme needed to be tightly focused, in depth and busy, adding that lawyers "tend to eat up tasks - they get bored so quickly!". We were briefed on the role, age range, areas of expertise and seniority of the participants. Taking all this into account, we began to draft a programme to ensure that the firm's objectives would be met and that the afternoon would give the group some tangible bottom line results in team development.
The programme was designed to take into account individual specialisms and aimed to get individuals to work with colleagues outside their area of expertise or level of seniority. We were happy to revise the programme to ensure that we were working within the limits of the team's comfort zones, whilst challenging their expectations.
On the day, the programme was delivered by one of Fresh Tracks' most experienced facilitators with considerable experience of dealing with senior team members.
Knowing that this group was very time-conscious, it was important that the first session justified this time-out for the team and underlined the value of the afternoon's activities. By referring the planned activities back to particular areas of specialism, we ensured that the programme could be placed firmly within a familiar context to enable clear parallels to be drawn between working life and the challenges they were about to face. In particular the aim in this first session was to start to find out about the people behind the job roles and to discover the characteristics and qualities that people don't usually get an opportunity to display in the workplace.
We began with "Amazing Secrets" in which each participant writes on a Post It something about themselves that no one else in the room knows - they used to play in a band, have appeared on TV, saved a life etc. In their teams each group then tries to match the secret to the individual. This activity reinforces the theme of sharing and discovery outlined in the introduction.
The next session, "Silent Circle", focused on communication and required the group to form a circle based on the date of their birthday, without uttering a word. In their new teams, the group moved on to a creative challenge, "Egg Drop", in which the teams needed to build a structure that would prevent their egg from breaking when dropped from a height of 10 feet.
Next came "Saboteur" which looks at trust and blame: teams had to copy a detailed plan view of a maze from their combined memory, a difficult task in itself made even more challenging by the fact that there may be a saboteur in the team. In order to prevent the saboteur from destroying their plan the team can vote him/her out or ask him/her back in if they feel that the accused is in fact innocent. This opens discussions on trust and how it feels to be accused of letting the team down.
The final activity got the whole team working together: "Group Juggling" begins with smaller groups and just one bean bag per person, building to a point where the whole team forms a circle, simultaneously juggling two bean bags each. Co-ordination, support and pin-sharp timing are required to succeed at this challenge. It may take a little while but when it goes right the feelings of elation and achievement are unforgettable.
By the end of the afternoon, the group had relaxed, were having fun and it was apparent that some of the barriers had begun to come down. Our client felt that "Fresh Tracks skillfully put us through our paces on the team tasks and before we knew it we had learned more about each other, considered how to work more effectively together and had a lot of fun." And although we can't claim to have addressed all of this group's issues in one afternoon, the general feeling was that "the afternoon of team tasks encouraged team members to get to know each other better, to work more effectively together and provided a fun and energising end to two days of hard work."
�Fresh Tracks, for more information about Fresh Tracks team building activities call 01920 822220