Training budgets are nowadays scrutinised more closely than ever and a return on investment is expected, even if it is pretty difficult to measure. More bang for the buck is wanted.
Risk assessment, health and safety and insurance have all played their part too so many of the high-octane away day activities are less appealing to employers.
For all the digital enhancements of communication, the agency world, just like any business, is still one where people buy from people they know, like and trust. And when I say buy, I’m not just talking about the client buying from the agency. The mantra applies to the team or department working on the pitch. Members of the team, not just leaders, need buy-in to their ideas, strategies and methodology in order to get the utter commitment and belief of the team. Only by galvanising the whole team will the pitch have the best chance of being won.
So a refreshed team which fully relishes in the diverse skill-set of its members is far more likely to be ready for the unpredictable nature of business than one which approaches each new business pitch the same way.
There are many ways this can be done of course and the first and most obvious is to alter the working environment, the further removed the better. By taking people back to basics – away from screens, Google and apps – this brings about a deeper change of state as people have to rely on their natural resources, both ecologically and physiologically.
What about the unpredictability element? How can this be ingredient be included?
How about introducing a flock of sheep into the mix?
Yes you did read that right.
The general consensus may be that sheep are stupid and they simply follow one another. When you’re challenged to herd a flock into a pen however it soon becomes apparent that they have a myriad of behaviour patterns and their own communication system.
Team building with sheep – now there’s a pitch with a USP.
It occurs to me, having hailed from an agency background, that the core of an away day team building programme mirrors working on a new business pitch:
- the initial euphoria of being on the pitch list often with a different product or service to promote
- conjuring up the wackiest of ideas in lively group sessions
- narrowing down to a few possible options and discussing strategies to support them
- test-driving (researching) and reviewing what’s good and what needs tweaking or even what needs dumping completely
- allocating and agreeing roles within the team according to skills and experience
- rehearsing the pitch
- making the pitch
- winning the business and celebrating
Introduce sheep into the mix and there’s always the ‘client’ (sheep) who might not do what you expect or want them to do. Their ‘language’ needs to be learned – the way they behave and communicate and how you can influence it to your advantage.
Everyone in the team has to be totally committed to the task, to buy into the strategy of the leader (the shepherd) and to believe that they will herd the flock into the pen (land the business).
What was your last team building activity and how closely did it resemble your business? Were any lessons learned that shifted the way you work – both literally and in terms of mindset?
Author: Caroline Palmer – Director, Raising the Baa