Teambuilding: it’s a tricky one, what on paper seems like a fun day out, could turn into a disaster that leave the introverted vowing to never attend another event with the team and the extroverted finding new friends somewhere else, I’ve witnessed one particular train wreck a few years ago, while volunteering with an NGO in Nigeria.
While staying in Lagos, we could have sunned ourselves while listening to pumping Naija’ music. We could have sought out the nearest chain supermarket and bought our own weight in cheese.
But no: we went to the Zoo: There’s truly nothing sadder than a cage containing an emaciated lion, adjacent to a cage featuring such exotic animals as the common wood pigeon. What was worse is that instead of merely damning the zoo, it turned into an issue about zoos in general and everyone left feeling a bit sheepish:
Are zoos by their nature terrible? or are they providing a haven for say; animals such as Pandas who maybe haven’t got much an instinct to survive in a sensible manner?…I mean: look at a Panda: They get flown all around the world: yet they still won’t do the decent thing (Netflix and Chill) they simply eat toxic bamboo and loll around…
Anyway, Zoo meanderings aside: what we are really here to talk about is how to build a good team and how to maintain that team making sure everyone leaves with gurning photos hashtagged: #squadgoals. Below, I’ve compiled a brief run through from asking around my workplacee and my own experiences:
1) Put up an Appreciation Wall
People like to be reminded they did a good job and sometimes, saying it in person is a little forced; like you are praising them the same way you would a student. All you need for this is a wall in the office staff room, post-its and a pen. So that next time someone does something that you like, you can share it with the group, rather than a casual ‘Good job’ in the hallway. (Thank you Taylor for this idea!)
When you are too busy in work to even photograph your own wall…
2) Make an effort after work.
There’s nothing worse than being the one that always goes home, while your co-workers go out for a nice meal or a casual pint among other expats. I’ve known teachers who instead of appearing ‘unprofessional’ in-front of their peers; would rather go home and watch Netflix each and every night. Sure, we don’t all drink: but there is a plethora of things you can do that don’t have an ABV rating. For instance, last night: we visited the local Japanese Izakaya to try chicken hearts, which tasted exactly like steak…it was a revelation!
3) Share food
Sharing is caring, food brings people together. ‘There’s no love more sincere than a love of food’ as they say: in this case: I’d say that chocolate is always a good food, everybody likes chocolate: so this Easter: I had my mum send out a heap of Easter chocolate which kept the team going. Look at the culture of China: nobody is left out and nobody is really allowed to keep all that stinky tofu to themselves: I can’t wait to visit Chengdu for a hotpot and fight the people I meet over a bowl of numbing hotpot for the last piece of meat.
Easter…Pass the Sichuan rabbit head…
4) Don’t gossip
We are all different, we may not speak the same language, you might walk around on all fours and sleep in a capsule for all I know…but what you need to survive in a foreign country is to understand that you may have difficulty with your workmates: but taking it personally is not the way forward. Some people are like the super SUPER numbing hotpot and some people are a more mild fish stew…to use a long-winded…rambling…analogy…We all have different strengths and weaknesses…let’s celebrate them! rather than point them out.
5)Keep it simple!
I’ve seen plenty of team buildings, which simply didn’t work because they involved too much of a commitment or threw people into uncomfortable situations, that had the opposite effect on bonding as a group.
I recall one particular NGO that tasked us with pairing up to either be on cooking or cleaning duty: something that certainly wasn’t in the on-boarding training! I make a great crocodile curry, but at the same time…have you ever tried to cook/clean for 10 people?
So what inspired this post? Well my great and supportive team at Kangwang of course…and the fact our upcoming team building is on my weekend…Lets hope it’s hot enough for the hot spring.
Memes and a monkey picture…the Chinese says: “Forward Prawn!’