This summer, our New York office went to New Orleans for a team-building workshop that focused on the future of the company. We talked about the past and the present to help us get a better sense of what our future could hold.
In order to keep up in our ever-changing society, we have to evolve to stay relevant; and in order to succeed moving forward, we need to do so as a team. But how do you take a group of people and turn them into an effective team? And how do you get that team to unite and help shape the future of a company?
First, we need to define the most important characteristics of an effective team: communication, trust, and a desire to reach a common goal. Next, we ship them off to New Orleans, lock them in the lobby of the Queen & Crescent Hotel for a 3 hour intensive workshop followed by a city scavenger hunt. The below is a recap of what we did and how we did it. Although I always enjoy the workshops we do here at YM — this experience is one of my favorites.
Our session began with two team-building exercises to get everyone moving. I always love this part of workshops. Warm-ups are a great way to start a long session like this; they work out all the jitters and open people up for dialogue. Plus our team is super competitive, and we love any opportunity to fight for bragging rights.
You can find lots of our favorite exercises (and more!) in the Hyper Island Toolbox.
Once we were warmed up, it was time to reflect. We’re big on post-its here at Your Majesty, so we turned to one of our favorite methods: The Ship. In this case, the Ship itself, is a direct representation of our company, and we discuss where we came from, where we’re going, and what might affect our journey along the way.
The good, the bad & the ugly
In order to move forward, we had to first look back and discuss the things we’ve been doing well as a company, as well as the things we need to improve on. Think of this as an open ended brain-dump at the beginning of a brainstorming session. We asked ourselves: what do we want to take with us, going forward? What are the things we want to leave behind? Once we ran out of post-its to share with one another, we were free to start thinking about the future.
It’s one thing to discuss the not-so-great aspects of work with a coworker or friend, but it’s a completely different ball-game to share it with everyone you work with. I was a little nervous during this exercise; we were asked to be totally honest, but what if no one agreed with me? It can be scary to be the one to start hard conversations, but in the end it’s better to be open and honest, than wish you had spoken up.
Now that our bags were packed, we needed to talk about where we were going. We talked about the kinds of awesome and innovative projects we’d like to be working on, and how we could improve collaboration across our different offices. In the end, we were all united in our destination.
I thought it was really amazing to watch this part of the session unfold. We had broken off into three groups, and we all drew the things we wanted on a piece of paper. Looking around, we noticed there was a lot of overlap between the different teams about what we wanted; our common goal had emerged. We broke off from this part of the session feeling energized and excited for the future.
Push & pull
Next it was time to discuss The Wind; the things working in our favor that would propel us towards our end goal. We took a step back to really acknowledge our incredibly talented staff, and the constant willingness to take risks and push for what we want. We also talked about processes we already had set in place, as well as new ideas to help push us toward our new goal.
After we had identified the wind, we talked about our Anchors; the things currently holding us back from reaching our goals. Call it a bit glass half empty, but to me it felt like a great opportunity for everyone to raise real concerns and to brainstorm ideas to avoid potential issues. We’re no strangers to feeling pressed for time and dealing with everyday communication issues, so we’re going to be holding “town hall” meetings so we can regularly talk through these kinds of issues, and find the right solutions.
Icebergs are risks and potential obstacles we might run into along the way that may jeopardize our end goal. This gave us one last chance to voice any remaining concerns and we used these as a motivating force to get us on a clear path towards our end goal.
Tying the knot
Once we finished answering all of our prompts and concluded the last of our conversations, we took a step back and looked at what we had created. On the floor, covered in post-its, was our roadmap to the future. As we looked down at our handiwork, we each wrote out our names and “boarded” the ship, committing to the plan we had created as a team.
The exercises and conversations we had really helped us grow and come together even more. From intern to founder, everyone’s thoughts and ideas were viewed equally. At the very beginning of the workshop, we were asked to be honest, and I think the whole team did a great job at opening up and really speaking their minds. We were able to define a common goal the whole team feels passionate about and we’re putting our trust into each other that we’ll reach it.
Now that we have a clear goal in mind, we need to take action. They say Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it definitely wasn’t a one man job, so while it might take some time to get to where we’re going, we’re excited to be doing it together.