I could tell our outline was met with a mixture of scepticism and admiration when we recently briefed a brand new client of ours on the plans we had for their company’s team-building weekend getaway. That’s exactly what we want though – we want our clients to perk up their eyebrows and iterate through everything they think they know about effective time management & team-building and then concede to the fact that TaskO does it best…
So the mandate was to achieve something this particular company’s CEO just couldn’t manage to achieve (the company shall remain unnamed for now), which is to just bring everybody together and get them to work together more efficiently. What was clear from the onset, during our one-on-one sessions with every last one of the employees, was that the company’s payroll is indeed made up of professionals who are supremely talented. For those of you who are familiar with professional football at the highest level, the analogy I’ll use is that it was much like boasting a team of all the superstars in the world, like how Real Madrid FC has had it on a couple of occasions or more, yet managing all those big egos has often proven to be a challenge.
The goal was to get everybody working together in a manner which challenges each of their individual skills enough to have them feeling like they’re contributing something of value, and so the best way to achieve that was indeed to throw the entire team right into a task which requires each of them to take a bit of initiative.
The team-building exercise
As mentioned sports betting was the team building exercise of choice, with sports William Hill – one of the top betting sites making for the platform of choice.
The task was simple – the employees were allocated a budget with which to place bets on the weekend’s sports fixtures, divided departmentally and the department which wins the most money gets to keep their winnings. Our team was on hand to document every single step along the way, reality-television style and it was all rather exciting to watch.
This worked like a charm because some self-organisation very quickly demonstrated itself to be a quality which the group clearly possessed, prompting a nod of approval from the company’s CEO not too long into the exercise as he started to see how things were shaping up. We had some authoritative figures like senior and junior managers putting their foot down and allocating tasks such as willing the statistics department to do some research on the odds, while those colleagues who were known around the office to be sports enthusiasts were asked to weigh-in with some of the other dynamics surrounding the possible influences of the outcomes of sports matches.
After all the dust settled and it emerged that the two departments came out tied for the prize (the stats department and the marketing department), the takeaway from this rather unorthodox method of delivering a team-building exercise was indeed that sometimes authoritative figures like CEOs need to delegate the task of organising their team to the team itself. Self-organisation sometimes prevails as the solution.