Keep­ing the spirit alive af­ter a cor­po­rate re­treat Set out spe­cific goals for team-build­ing ex­er­cises, ex­perts say

HR Update - - Teambuilding -

By El­iz­a­beth How­ell

Five years ago, Robert Merkley joined two oth­ers on a lengthy bike ride in sup­port of Princess Mar­garet Hos­pi­tal in Toronto. The trio raised $80,000, prompt­ing Mr. Merkley – founder of Ot­tawa’s Merkley Sup­ply – and co-rider Roger Green­berg, CEO of The Minto Group, to in­ves­ti­gate launch­ing a sim­i­lar ini­tia­tive in the cap­i­tal.

The re­sult: Ride the Rideau, a 100-kilo­me­tre an­nual road trip in sup­port of can­cer re­search at the Ot­tawa Hos­pi­tal. Just three rides later, it has raised more than $4.4 mil­lion.

Mr. Merkley, who has 48 em­ploy­ees at his busi­ness, says the high par­tic­i­pa­tion rate of his work­ers in the fundraiser is an off­shoot of the close-knit en­vi­ron­ment.

“We’ve al­ways been a close team here to be­gin with,” Mr. Merkley says.

The ex­perts, how­ever, are di­vided about the value of us­ing out­side of­fice events as a team-build­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Crit­ics say some­times the en­vi­ron­ment is too far re­moved from the ev­ery­day pa­per­work and meet­ings to make a mean­ing­ful dif­fer­ence in the work­place. Oth­ers, how­ever, say it helps foster ca­ma­raderie and boosts morale.

Be­low are edited thoughts from HR pro­fes­sion­als con­cern­ing how to bring ex­pe­ri­en­tial team-build­ing ben­e­fits back to the work­place: MARGO HOYT, PRIN­CI­PAL AT KNIGHTS­BRIDGE OT­TAWA: If you re­ally want your team to be more ef­fec­tive, go­ing out and play­ing tag or paint­ball (is) fun and has a place in terms of build­ing re­la­tion­ships. But if you’re try­ing to en­hance the ef­fec­tive­ness of your team, you need to un­der­stand the strat­egy of the or­ga­ni­za­tion and where your team fits into it.

We (gather) as­sess­ment data on work styles and pref­er­ences and build that up so you have a pro­file on your team. If your team needs to be reach­ing out and part­ner­ing with ex­ter­nal stake­hold­ers, how do you do that?

As a team, you put pro­cesses in place to build skills around pro­duc­tive con­flict and com­mu­ni­ca­tion, and then you re­ally have to fo­cus on it. DALE STEVEN­SON, CEO AND CO­FOUNDER OF THE LEAD­ER­SHIP GROUP: Out­ward Bound and that type of stuff, you have peo­ple show up as who they are. I find it pow­er­ful, in that sense, but the chal­lenge is we don’t make that con­nec­tion when we come back into the of­fice. That’s where I like to look: how do we have peo­ple bridge the gap?

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