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Welcome to The JoyPowered® Workspace Podcast, where we talk about embracing humanity in the workplace. I’m Susan White, a national HR consultant, and with me is my co-host, JoDee Curtis, owner Purple Ink, an HR consulting firm, who is also the author of “JoyPowered®,” “The JoyPowered® Family,” and our soon to be released “The JoyPowered® Team,” which I’m going to be one of the seven co-authors of. In today’s episode, we’re going to be talking about team building. JoDee, how many times have you had your clients ask you for help in creating team building experiences at their companies?
Maybe a thousand.
Oh, go on with ya. I bet more than 1,000. Yeah, I have to tell you that, that really when I was working inside of corporate America, as well as now as an HR consultant, that request comes up so often and usually it’s because managers think that HR’s so creative, they probably have a game we could play, they have an exercise we could do that’s going to really make our off-site or our employee meeting even more fun or more interesting,
Right. Or I think too, sometimes they think our team is struggling. Could you come and do an exercise with us for two hours? And I’m sure we’ll be fine.
Oh, yeah, that’ll fix everything. Right. Well, I – you know, today we’re going to talk about team building in a, in a, hopefully a more intentional way, in a deeper way. But we are going to also mention some of the things that we have done or that we sometimes do with clients to help their teams through an exercise that will hopefully help them be better collaborators and better partners to each other. So, you know, one of the ones that I have used quite a bit and I know a lot of companies still use is Myers Briggs. Is that one that you’ve used, JoDee?
I personally don’t train on that, but I have been to many trainings you know, in my former life, where the companies or organizations or even other team nonprofit boards I’ve been on where we’ve gone through the exercise on Myers Briggs.
I was with the university last week doing a training program, and someone brought up Myers Briggs and all of a sudden people are saying, ESTJ! Oh, no, I thought you were an N. You know, it was, it’s fun. Any one of these types of instruments that try to help people understand others better and be on teams, they do have their own language, don’t they?
Yes, they sure do.
Another one is DiSC. You know, certainly that’s one that I’ve – some companies have adopted and have integrated it really into all of their training. I think you’ve got a client that I once worked with that they use DiSC and try to weave it into their training programs, right?
We actually have several clients that are huge advocates and long term users of DiSC. That’s been around for a long time, and I think is a very powerful tool as well.
Sure. And I know we’re going to talk about StrengthFinders in a moment, but let’s talk about, because I know you love Patrick Lencioni.
And his “Five Dysfunctions of a Team.” I’ve seen where groups will just show the video of this particular book, and then they’ll do a discussion around it and see what resonates with them. Have you used it in any of your team building training?
I have not specifically.
One of my favorite team building exercises is “All My Colleagues.” I don’t know if you’ve ever done this. I’ve heard it called different things, but “All My Colleagues,” and the way it works, I kind of like it not only as a team builder, but also as kind of an energizer when you’re doing an off-site or you’re doing a team meeting. And it’s where folks may not know each other all that well and you ask everybody to come and sit in a circle, of course, you put the chairs in a circle, and I usually start out with everyone. The most important thing in the next 20 minutes is that you’re in charge of your own safety and health because sometimes it gets a little physical and…
I know. I don’t want anybody getting injured. I don’t want any lawsuits, any OSHA violations, nothing. So I put everybody in a circle, and then one with one chair in the middle, and the person in the middle will start out with something that’s unique about them, and they start out by saying “All my colleagues who wears glasses,” if they wear glasses, then that’s – they can do it. And so then everyone in that circle who wears glasses has to get up and sit in a new chair. So the person in the middle’s goal is to get to one of those chairs while it’s empty. Whoever doesn’t have a chair then goes to the middle, and then they get a chance to say, “All my colleagues who graduated from Purdue,” if they, you know, it has to be something that’s true to the person in the middle. And then everybody who graduated from Purdue has to move seats. So it really gets kind of fun, and it’s a way for people say, I had no idea that that she went to Purdue, right? I had no idea that she’s got three children, so do I, and you start to see things you may have in common with others so we call it “All My Colleagues,” and I think it’s kind of a fun one.
That sounds fun.
Yeah, I usually have a hard time getting people to stop playing. I say, no, it’s time, we need to get back to work. Like, no, one more round, one more round!
A couple that I’ve done, one, I’ve done a lot of work around creative problem solving. So I think it’s fun to do that as a team building exercise, even if the topic is, I mean, sometimes it’s a very serious, important topic to the group that we can solve a problem but actually be engaging the group at the same time. And then another one I do that involves building Legos, but I can’t really tell you how to do it. If someone is listening, then they would know how it all works out.
Thank you for holding that secret.
It’s a secret ending.
Yeah. So JoDee, according to the University of California, team building is an ongoing process that helps a work group evolve into a cohesive team. The team members not only share expectations for accomplishing group tasks, but trust and support one another and respect one another’s individual differences. You know, it’s really easy to facilitate a one time team building event, but where I think the real work and the real benefits occur is in deciding your approach and then integrating it into the way you do business.
Right. Right. It has to be that consistency, right, or that ongoing teamwork where you really see the differences. We can all have fun…
…in some exercises, but that doesn’t necessarily make us…
…a good team.
Yeah, fair enough. You know, it’s been fun the last five years really watching your business, JoDee, because I – you decided early on to leverage StrengthFinders as a team building tool that you’ve integrated in almost every aspect of your operations, not only with your clients, but also with your staff. You’ve – I’ve seen you grow from one to 12 team members in the last nine years since you really started your business. How did you land on StrengthFinders, and how have you seen it strengthen the Purple Ink team?
Well, a couple things on that. Number one, I personally have Positivity, and StrengthFinders is a positive psychology about what… understanding what you do best and how you can do more of it, so I think it particularly appeals to me because it’s such a positive approach to doing it. And I’m also Maximizer number one, which is bringing out the best in others, so I love teaching the concept of StrengthFinders because I feel like I’m helping bring out the best in others. So that is my personal favorite, but I do, you know, it’s interesting, we talk about DiSC and Myers Briggs, a lot of times I get calls from clients who say that they’re interested in StrengthFinders, but they’re also using DiSC, or Myers Briggs, or whatever it is, and and my advice to them is to be consistent. Right? I think it’s confusing for people who have been using DiSC, I mean, if they want to change the philosophy, that’s one thing, but it can be difficult enough to get people to wrap their arms around DiSC or Myers Briggs, or StrengthsFinder, or insights, or colors, or whatever it is they’re using. So if it’s working, keep using it. Don’t try and do… otherwise I have, we’ve had clients who say, well, we did that DiSC last year, and this year, we want to do StrengthFinders, and next year, we want to do Myers Briggs. And I’m like, no, just stick with the one.
I think sometimes your credibility, if it’s the flavor of the month or flavor of the year, is weakened. If you really believe in Myers Briggs, or DiSC, or StrengthFinders, really, as you say, build it, integrate it into all of your practices and do your training and just keep reinforcing it.
Well, and you mentioned earlier about they each have their own language, right? So you can build your culture around using that common language, and if the language is changing all the time, it’s difficult for people to keep up with what, what is the flavor of the month right now.
Makes sense. I think that most businesses really haven’t focused on team building to the extent that they really want to, and so consequently, we’ve invited a subject matter expert today’s podcast to help us take our team building efforts to the next level. I’d like to introduce Des Garcia, who has witnessed many leaders struggle with disengagement, dysfunction, and destructive behaviors with their teams. That’s why after having spent nearly 20 years in the international business development arena, Deseri Garcia founded Vida Aventura as a team builder, executive coach, and leadership facilitator. She’s passionate about genuinely helping individuals and teams realize their true potential effectiveness and achieve exemplary results. Des also happens to be a multi-sport adventure racer – I’m very impressed – an avid runner who has completed the Boston Marathon twice, a licensed Yogi and meditation teacher, and is delighted to have learned to surf at the age of 40.
I’m telling you!
I love it, what a resume, right?
Des, thanks so much for being here.
You’re welcome. It’s my pleasure to be here with both of you. Thank you so much.
I want to say to one of the reasons we know that Des is the subject matter expert is because we’ve observed her. We had, Purple Ink hired her to come and do some team building for our own team, even though we do some for you know, we do a lot of the strengthsfinder training as a team building tool, when we were having our own retreat, we knew that we wanted to bring in an expert too. So I really respect and appreciate all that Des does, and we’ve referred her to a number of our clients to help lead their efforts as well. But why experience-based team building? How… What led you to get into that and why do you feel so strongly about that?
Hmm, great question. That’s, could be a long answer, what led me, led me to it, like, the journey. But I do want to say it was great fun working with your team a couple of years ago, and I really, truly appreciate how often you refer me. So thank you for that. We’re pretty blessed to have a lot of people in our community that we can, like so generously refer. A lot of good, lot of good SMEs.
So, so why experience-based team building? I’ve been an athlete my whole life, and after college, I really focused on running, but then got into adventure racing, which is multi-sport racing with a team. And so we race with a map and compass and we’re challenged to like paddle, run, and track through the woods, mountain bike, on road, off road, do rappelling, ascending, all sorts of things.
Susan, I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted.
I’m thinking about The Amazing Race. That’d be something, Des, that you would want to do, like The Amazing Race on television.
I think that would be a blast. Yeah, I think it would be fun. So, so my team that raced, we would race 24, 48, 52 hours straight. So that experience taught me a ton about being in a high-stress environment at times, if you’re hungry and not well-hydrated, or you have things going on with your team that aren’t going well, I mean, you you have to figure these things out, and so it really taught me what it takes to be a high-performing team. Well, at the same time that that was happening in my life, I was making a transition from corporate America into my own business, and I, I’d been on a ropes challenge course before, and I was completely enamored with the power of team building, leadership development, and facilitation, and so I thought, well, wouldn’t it be crazy if I created a company that I could do that or I could take teams outside of the workplace and create these environments where they, I mean, I don’t do adventure racing with the teams that I work with, but what if I could, you know, create team building activities that would allow teams to understand how to work together well?
And so that’s how Vida Aventura was, was, was born.
I love it.
What are some of the biggest challenges that you have observed that teams have in the workplace?
I think the biggest challenges that teams face stem from trust, a lack of trust, and poor communication, which can show up as conflict and tension or not being able to deal with that well, or not having the tools and resources to deal with conflict. So what happens with the trust piece is if trust isn’t there, if it isn’t strong enough, then people have their guards up, and they’re not able to collaborate well. They’re not able to to work together well, of course communication is going to break down. We all know from, you know, you mentioned Patrick Lencioni, his book, “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team,” if teams aren’t willing to be vulnerable with one another and say, hey, I screwed up, or I don’t know what I’m doing here, or I need help. If they can’t do that, and then they’re creating all sorts of, you know, buffers to make, to cover up what they’re not doing. I mean, just imagine what that does to the overall results and…
Has to diminish them.
And do the activities that you do with teams, did they sometimes just highlight maybe that there is such a lack of trust? Or… and/or do you help them work through those stress issues as well?
It’s interesting that you asked that question. I… quick story. I was working with an organization several years ago and we were going through activities to build communication. There was a gentleman on the team who happened to be head of finance, and I noticed that he kept cheating. As I was watching, I thought, I cannot not pull the highest executive, the CEO from this company aside and say, I just, I just need to point this out, because there’s something that we say in experience-based team building, and it is how you do anything is how you do everything. And so I was seeing this lack of integrity…
If you’re gonna be cheating on a game, you might be cheating on your financials.
Right. And it didn’t necessarily mean that he had a lack of integrity in how he was doing financials, but I just, I just wanted to kind of, like, raise my hand and say, I just want to say, you know, just share with you what I’m seeing. So, certainly team building activities can be focused on, hey, we’re just going to focus on trust, and that’s the key to experiential learning is being aware of how you’re showing up, being that self-aware, but also noticing in those activities that, that seem to have no risk at all right? It’s not the work that you’re doing in, in, when you’re back in the office. But when you’re doing those activities, if you can be aware of how you’re interacting with others, that’s the real beauty. That’s where you get the the takeaway from it. One of my, one of my favorite team building quotes is you can learn more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. And what happened for me when I was in corporate America, the company I was with, we did a ropes challenge course, and I’ll always remember standing, I climbed a pole and I was 30 feet above the ground, and basically standing on a telephone pole, and the facilitator, I’m looking down below, of course, my knees, my legs were shaking, like, my knees were literally knocking, and the facilitator said, okay, jump, your team has you. And so I’m standing there as a salesperson and I’m like, that’s the operations team. There’s no way!
There’s no high performers on that team, darn it!
They can’t stand me! I’m gonna fail! Like, that’s accounting, and the…you know, like…
And, and it was, for me one of the biggest lessons in trust. You know, of course, I had a waist harness on and a chest harness and all the ropes were set up, and literally, that team was going to catch me. When I, you know, jumped out from the flag.
And they did.
And they did. Well, if they didn’t, I wouldn’t be here today.
Can I… I’ve got to share my story. So many years ago, I was in Columbus, Ohio with corporate America, and we were doing this trust where you had to stand on top of the picnic table and everyone else stands behind you and you fall backwards, you know, your hands over your chest. And can I just say the thing I learned was if you’re ever going to do one of those outside course things, make sure you don’t wear shorts, because I had on shorts, and I don’t think my legs were shaved well enough to have all those people catch me. To this day, I always say if you’re going out, wear long pants! Or shave.
Exactly, or shave.
But they did, they did catch you, Susan?
Yeah. And well, and here’s the thing, that team caught me, and throughout that, the entire day, we played, we did these activities, we were successful, we were high performing, and a lot of those fun things. And what it made me realize was, I had colleagues who, you know, we’d just kind of, like, butt heads from time to time, and, and before that day, we couldn’t really find a way to work together well, but in those activities, we found a way, and I was like, wow, if we can do that here, why can’t we do that when we go back in the office, and it literally transformed our relationship.
Very powerful. Yeah. I think sometimes those physical moments, right, when there’s so much more visual or physical, that we can feel that trust or see that trust, is… can be a takeaway that, hmm, yeah, there is something here.
Yeah. And even, you mentioned JoDee’s block activity. I’m like, oh, I know which activity you’re talking about. I’m so glad you didn’t give everyone the answer.
The Lego blocks, right?
Yes. The Lego blocks. It doesn’t have to be a high intensity ropes course.
Right? You can do simple activities that, that you can do in your office around the boardroom table that can create ahas and insights for individuals.
Right. Right. Very good. Well, what do you think, Des, are some of the keys to building a high performance team?
You mentioned earlier Patrick Lencioni. I’m going to follow his lead. Big fan of the lessons in the book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.” But also, I facilitate The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team, and I think the key, the key, as I mentioned earlier, is trust as the foundation and not just… Patrick calls it predictive trust, like when I know that I can count on you to do these things, because you’ve always done them, but vulnerability-based trust. If you know anything about Google’s Project Aristotle, they talk about psychological safety is the number one thing, the number one attribute of the of the most successful teams. And it’s interesting, because the the two ways to create high degrees of psychological safety are so simple, but they’re not easy. So the first thing is to make sure that each of your team members have equal time to share in communication. I call it air time.
But make sure they get equal time to speak up and share. And the second thing is ostentatious listening.
Ooh, what’s that mean?
Listening with intention, but really hearing people and showing them that you hear them. So, you know, getting your head out of your laptop, you know, putting your phone down, turning and directing your body to that person and, and affirming what they’re saying.
Our listeners, I’m sorry, listeners cannot see this, but JoDee and I are ostentatiously listening.
This is so interesting. Yeah, yeah.
We are right now, but I have to admit, that’s a skill I’m not always good at. I can be that person who’s on my phone or looking at my laptop and it is, it’s a habit I think that we have to be intentional about doing.
It is for me, too, like, every single day.
So, so trust, which builds that psychological safety, and I, the cool thing about team building is it accelerates the relationship, and so it gives you… the other way, another way to build trust is more time with people. So team building is, accelerates that because of the experience. And then going up the, the pyramid of the five behaviors, having healthy conflict. So conflict has to exist, can’t have no conflict. It’s, it’s those times when you come back together after a really tough conflict that builds your ability to have a healthy relationship, right? So you know, getting right up to that line, not letting respect get diminished, but if it does, recovering and recovering quickly, and then of course, commitment, something that I teach to a lot of teams, it’s called “level five commitment,” which I can share for you with If you’d like.
So, level five commitment is this. Level one is that you’re not committed. Level two commitment is wishing, hoping, and dreaming. Not much commitment there, right? Level three commitment is try. So if you’re trying, you’re not, you’re not really committed. Level four is where it gets interesting. It’s when you’re committed unless. So I’m committed to this, well, unless something comes up and then I’m really not that committed to it. Level five is I’m committed whatever it takes. If you’re in a relationship, that really works, right, if you’re in a team and everyone on that team is committed, whatever it takes, imagine what you can do in terms of performance, right? So and then of course, there’s accountability, and accountability, doesn’t just rest on the shoulders of the, of the boss. Team members have to hold one another accountable for that work and then results.
It all makes great sense. I can already see a couple doing their wedding vows. “I want to give you level five commitment.” I do! That’s the way you should live. Well, we know you have a lot of varied customers from different industries. What would you say the top three things that customers tell you that they get out of your work with them?
I would say number one is a higher level of engagement with their team. The second thing is not just results, but unprecedented results, higher results than they imagined. I’m not saying just from the work that I do, but let’s just say in this type of work. And then the third is discretionary effort, and I’ll tell another story about that. One of the very first team building events that I did I was with a US-based company, but we were in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and we did a day of team building there. And at the end of the day, and I will say the most, in my opinion, the most powerful aspect of team building is not so much the activity, it’s the debrief. Right? Because as adult learners we don’t learn by just by doing, we learn by reflecting upon what we’ve done. That’s where the real juice is. So we were doing a debrief at the end of this full day of really fun team building activities, and one of the gentlemen who had been with this company for, I think, 20 years, stood up, he – I can’t remember what country he was from, and he said, I can’t believe that our company cares so much about us they would invest in us to give us this opportunity to build our cohesiveness and be a stronger team.
And it just struck me that I didn’t think about that people would feel like I’m really cared for, this company really cares for me.
It is powerful. You think about… think about how much discretionary effort that gentleman has given that company right at this point, right? You can’t, can’t… I don’t know if you can you put a dollar amount on that. I couldn’t.
But I love it. Very powerful and something we, not a lot of people always get, right? Employees, or that appreciation, that gratefulness for the time, the money, the efforts, the conversations that, that can happen, so… the consultants that come in, right? So good for him.
Yeah, that was a pretty cool moment for me too.
Yes, yes. Yeah. What other support and resources do you recommend to leaders?
Well, for the two of you, I know, and I know your listeners are preaching to the choir, I, I had a coach back in 2006 that challenged me to do personal development every single day, and, and he, and he said, and I want you to do it before you leave your house. I’m like, you don’t understand, I get up at 5:30 to run, like, I would have to get up at 5:15 to do 15 minutes of work. He said, exactly. And he, and he made me do it for 30 days and I haven’t stopped since. So I, I’m a, I’m a big proponent of life – you know, leaders are lifelong learners.
So read. There are podcasts like this one, listen to podcasts, or, you know, frequently, every day if you can. Coursework that you can take. You know, there’s any number of other things that we can do. Listen to books on CD.
Right. Right. Couldn’t you listen to a podcast and run at the same time so you could sleep in 15 minutes later?
Back then podcasts were not…
She’d have to carry a boombox with her!
I was listening to your podcast this morning on the treadmill. So yes, you can do that.
I was gonna say, too, he did say you had to do it before you left the house, which if you’re on the treadmill that would work.
That’s great. What great advice, I think for all of us.
Yes. Very powerful.
So have you been – ever worked with a client where they really wanted your help, and they were focused on wanting to build team, but they made some fundamental mistakes that really harmed them that maybe some of our listeners can prevent from doing?
Yes, I would say the mistake the… probably the biggest mistake that I’ve seen made was also a mistake on my part. I was working with an organization who had an absentee owner that was not involved with the day-to-day operations, so the team that was there made some decisions about, about the culture and the organization and things that they were going to do, and thought they had the owners buy in and they didn’t. So it’s an, it’s really important that you have the buy in of, of the leadership of the team for the things that you want to do, and I’d say that the mistake I made was, you know, I should have made sure that that happened.
Because I know better, right? We know better not to have the owners in the room, owners of the decision for sure, but to have leadership involved in every step of the way.
Yes, makes sense.
But easy to make that mistake, too, right? Where they say, oh, we got this, he’ll go along, she’ll approve it. She does whatever we say. Right? Very easy to do that.
Well, it, if, if it happens, you know, I was like, okay, that’s only gonna ever happen once.
Thank you for sharing your vulnerability with us.
Yes, that’s right. That’s right. Well, Des, any other advice that you have for our listeners that we haven’t talked about yet?
You mentioned earlier team building is not a… one event and it’s, you’re fixed. It’s a deliberate practice, and something that you have to continually do. So, you know, my advice would be, you know, you don’t have to create an elaborate team building activity with your team all the time. But keep the keys, those five things around team building top of mind to make sure that you’re constantly fostering trust and making sure that the team is addressing conflicts when they come up. Or if conflict doesn’t exist, just find a way to, you know, make sure that people are having those conversations if they are trying to avoid them.
Right, right. If no conflict exists, there’s probably a bigger problem, right?
Des, what do you do with the people in the group, I’m sure we’ve all had them, who say, ah, I hate this team building. I hate doing this stuff. Just let me go back and do my job. Do you have…
I have a great story about that. So I was doing team building for Riley Hospital, and I was just, I was just in a board room doing an event for a few doctors that were part of a leadership group, and I was on the floor. You couldn’t see me. Behind some of the tables, putting some tape down, I don’t know. And one of the docs walked in and saw like my pool noodles and a couple of other props and she said, oh no, we’re doing this crap today? And I stood up and I said, yes we are. And she, she turned three shades of red. She said, I am so sorry. I said, no, it’s okay. I said, I love that you’re walking into this skeptical.
I said, but I want to talk to you on… before you leave after our 90 minutes together. I want to see what you thought. And 90 minutes later, we were walking out, I said, so how was it? She goes, you know what? That wasn’t too bad. I learned some things.
You are so brave. I might have folded like a cheap tent and gone home.
Well, here’s, here’s the thing. People don’t want to be made to look foolish, right? And so, you know, with with team building, especially in the beginning, we do an activity called “challenge by choice.” That’s just, it’s a way for us as team building facilitators to let people know that, you know, of course, safety’s number one, but at any time you can choose to participate or you can choose not to participate. And that’s your choice. And, and I always say you’re going to get the most out of it if you participate, but, but, you know, no, no one’s ever going to force you to do anything that you don’t want to do.
That’s great. I think apart from the “All My Colleagues” game, I need to… I talk about safety, but I don’t talk about your choice. So if you don’t want to move chairs, just don’t.
I could absolutely introduce that, so thank you.
Right. That is good. I have to tell you, as much as I love all this stuff, I have a sister who, ironically, is a physician as well, and she always says I’d rather poke my eyes out than do team building.
I bet she’s a fun team member.
I’d love to meet her.
Let’s get Des on the case.
I would love it, too!
So Des, please tell our listeners how can they get in contact with you?
Well, can certainly go to my website.
Tell us that website address.
It’s vidaaventura.net. So if I spell it, it’s V-I-D-A A-V-E-N-T-U-R-A dot net.
Attached to our show notes on our website, getjoypowered.com, Des has included her guide on five ways to build a high performance team. Thank you for sharing that with our listeners.
Thank you, so nice to see you again. Always want to shake your hand. I know. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Thanks for having me. This was fun.
You were fantastic!
I learned. I love learning!
What’s taken us so long to have her on here?
I don’t know, I feel invigorated.
The JoyPowered® Workspace Podcast is sponsored by our new book, “The JoyPowered® Team.” JoDee and I wrote this book with five of our colleagues and we can’t wait for you to read it. “The JoyPowered® Team” challenges you to choose joy for yourself and your teammates. Learn how to build inclusive teams, navigate workplace challenges, revitalize teams who falter, and thrive as teams evolve. Joy starts with you, whatever your role, industry, or area of expertise. Learn more about our new book and how to buy it at www.getjoypowered.com/books. That’s W-W-W dot G-E-T-J-O-Y-P-O-W-E-R-E-D dot com slash B-O–O-K-S.
Okay, for those of you who really do just need a one time team building activity, in addition to what we’ve talked about earlier, like “All My Colleagues” or Myers Briggs, or StrengthFinders, Fairy Godboss, that’s F-A-I-R-Y G-O-D-B-O-S-S dot com has a blog entitled “23 Team Building Activities that Don’t Suck.” I went through all 23 of those, and JoDee and I’ve decided that there’s nine of them that we like. So why don’t we share those? JoDee, why don’t you start with the first one.
The first one is a board game night, and I have to tell you, I think six months ago, I might have laughed at that one, but we actually did an activity at our Purple Ink retreat back in November where we played a board game, and we laughed and laughed and laughed. And I think not only was it fun, but I felt like I walked away with it, learning more about people and having played that game.
So JoDee, I remember one night you did a poker party that I went to, I know it was client-facing, but employees got to play, and I as a contractor to Purple Ink got to play, and it was a blast.
Really fun. So number two on the list that we liked, our favorite nine of those 23, is a community service project. And throughout my career when I worked for a large organization, we did a lot of external team buildings, always optional. Although one Leadership Program I went to up in Milwaukee, we all went off site to do a Habitat for Humanity house for one day, but usually it was optional if we wanted to do it. I thought it was a great way to get to work with people throughout the organization, get to know them as you were doing something good for the community.
Right? That one’s a double whammy, I think, right? You’re helping other people, individuals or nonprofit organizations, whatever the group might be, as well as team building at the same time. And I always think it’s fascinating to see people outside of the workspace, you know, people that you might never dreamed were good with planting or pulling weeds or hammering nails or whatever. Just seeing people in a different environment can can be a powerful activity.
The third one is sports game attendance. That’s typically fun for most people. I know I’ve done baseball games or basketball games or going bowling, I think is a great activity where you have time to communicate and talk and doesn’t always have to be about the competition. We did a Top Golf event with our group one time too, which was kind of similar to a bowling activity, but was a fun.
I’ve done horse racing and, of course, you know, my desire to gamble. It was so fun. Yeah, loved it. Fourth one we liked was creation of the intramural sports league. And Tom Hinkley, if you’re listening today, you’re going to be rolling your eyes, because Tom ran our intramural sports league when HR used to run it at an organization we worked to together. But it was so great. It really was a fun way for people throughout the organization to have a chance to play together in addition to work together.
Yeah, I have to say I remember the last time I played intramural, I played on an intramural volleyball team and I sprained my ankle, and that was…
That was the end of my intramural career. The next one is a book club, which I’m always a fan of book clubs or engaging people into reading more. So that can be a great activity as well.
Truly, and I work on a virtual team as part of my consulting practice. I work a few hours a week for Lee Hecht Harrison, and they do a lot of talent development and coaching and whatnot. Anyway, I will never meet my colleagues, it just won’t happen, because I work out of my home office, they work out of their home offices spread out through throughout the US. And we have a book club, and so there’s a small core of us that we get together once a month and we have a teleconference and we talk about the book we’ve read, we plan our next one, it is really fun.
Now, we don’t read anything that’s going to make us smarter. We read mysteries and murder and things and it’s just really fun.
Well, and what a great idea to do with remote teams, right, with so many more… which is always an issue, I think, in doing some of these other events when you have people that work remotely, that you might be excluding them. So having a virtual book club is a great idea.
The next one on the list I liked was the local escape room. Now, I get a little nervous about the idea of being locked in a room with people I work with and not getting out, because I’m a little claustrophobic, but I have heard wonderful things about, from teams that have done it. JoDee, has your team done an escape room?
Not our team, but I have done an escape room before and we didn’t get out.
Oh, dear. There goes my fear.
I don’t know if I’m gonna add to your fear or not, but it was the super challenging one. But I have heard lots of good things about it. And believe it or not, the next one, which are two things that I have zero skills in, are an art or cooking class, which are, are two of probably my least favorite things to do. But if you recall, Susan, we had a cooking event several years ago, which was really putting myself out there to bring my team and to do cooking, but we had a really good time.
It was a blast. Now, I gotta tell you, JoDee and I were on the same team and we were the first team out. You may not want – if we ask you to come over to dinner, you may want to say no.
I’m sorry, I, I put you on my team, Susan.
I mean, we lost because of me, not because of Susan.
No, it was, it was great fun. It really was good team building. And the next one was, and this one I have heard about, I haven’t done, so you may be familiar with the groups that have done this. It’s a very common team exercise where you build a marshmallow spaghetti tower. And this is really easy. You can Google it if you don’t want to, if you’re driving right now listening to this podcast, you can’t write it down. Because the materials you need are, every team gets 20 strands of spaghetti, one roll of masking tape, one yard of string, and one marshmallow for each team member, so if you have five on the team, you’ll get five marshmallows. The goal is for all the team to compete against each other to get as tall as you can, have any kind of a structure that can stand on its own.
Wow, interesting. That sounds pretty challenging. So I like that roll of masking tape, a lot can be accomplished with masking tape.
Isn’t that the truth?
Now this one I’ve never heard of as a team building activity, but I’m thinking about incorporating it now, is a battle of the air bands, where teams can lip sync and pretend playing instruments in a competition.
I want to come watch, that should be really fun. So anyway, take a look. If you like any of those at fairygodboss.com, the blog entitled “23 Team Building Activities that Don’t Suck.” Alright, so we didn’t tell you the others because they did. Not really. They’re not bad.
Susan, we have a listener question today. Today’s question is from Ellen in Indianapolis. She says, “We have a new staff member in our small office with less than 15 employees. She has been a slow starter. That is, she knew less than we thought she should have given her education and prior experience. That’s disappointing, but we would be okay, as we were willing to help her learn. But when we give her answers, she never writes them down, and then when she has to do something again, we end up having to tell her or show her again how to do it. She’s really nice, but several of my colleagues have actually given up on her. I don’t want her to fail. I’m the team leader in the office, but not actually her manager. What should I do?”
Ellen, I think the first thing I would do is, I’d want to know a little more. I’d want to know, is she in her first 90 days or whatever introductory period you have for the job? The reason I say that is because it could be that maybe she’s not a good fit. If, if in your office, you’re all really busy and you’re not able to continue coaching and giving answers and she’s not making an effort to write things down, it really might be the time to think, did we make a mistake here? Did she make a mistake by joining this job because she doesn’t, may not have the right skills for it? Or did we make a mistake in selection? But let’s assume that it’s more than… the introductory period is behind us and you really want to help her be successful. You don’t want to have to go down a corrective action, you know, path with her. My recommendation is for you to talk to the true manager and make sure that this new staff member’s manager realizes the extra work that the person is causing and that it’s not working so well, and see if the manager can do some type of intervention and help her get the skills that she might need, maybe a little more education, maybe there’s some retraining that can be done. If not, and if the manager may not be present or be engaged, you sound like a really caring, wonderful team leader. Maybe you could pull one by one the other staff members aside and talk about the fact that you know, we’ve got this staff member, we want, want her to be successful. What could we do differently? Maybe we could take her to lunch and give her some tips about taking notes or help her build some type of a resource guide that will help her so that maybe she doesn’t have to interrupt us so many times. JoDee, any other suggestions you might have for Ellen?
Well, I, just generally I agree with what you say. But in the end, it’s about having that conversation directly with her, having those people directly share that information with her, that they’re having to repeat themselves, that what’s a better way for her to learn. Is that taking notes, is it creating a guide, is it whatever might work for her? Because what she’s doing doesn’t seem to be working.
And she needs to know it, right? I prefer in an office that the boss tells you that it’s not working, but sometimes the bosses are not as engaged as they need to be, right? And so maybe Ellen, as a caring team leader, might want to do it. Good luck, Ellen.
Sometimes we hear from our listeners about best practices, things that are really working for them in the workplace, but this episode, we decided to ask, what are some bad practices out there that you might want to avoid? So we asked our listeners the question, “what is the one thing your manager does that drives you nuts?” So I want – all of you out there, I want you to listen. Do you ever do any of these things? And if you do, you might be driving someone crazy. JoDee, what was the first one we heard?
“No meeting goes by without my boss using the expression ‘at the end of the day.’ It drives me crazy.” I think that one could probably be any expression…
That you use over and over.
That gets constantly repeated.
Yeah, like “bottom line,” or “at the end of the day.” Oh, come on, please. You’re killing me here. All right. The second one we heard was a listener said, “My boss is sending me emails all weekend long but saying, ‘no need to respond till you’re back to work on Monday.'” Okay, anyone who’s ever worked with me or ever worked for me, you know, I’m a terrible, terrible, terrible at this because weekends is when I really have time to think and to process, and so when I catch up on things, I send out emails. What I need to learn to do is save those until Monday morning and send them out, because I’m sure I have driven people insane.
I don’t know I send, we can, I send emails…. I think Susan, you and I have our best communications on the weekend.
We do! JoDee and I go back and forth all weekend long as happy as clams.
Number three, “Never saying ‘good morning’ or ‘good night,’ just heading into your office in the morning and walking out at night. Sometimes I feel like our boss is ghosting us at the end of the day.”
It would be weird to have your boss go into their office and not say hello or… at the end of the day walk out and you realize they’ve gone.
Fourth one, someone said “My boss checking in every day on my progress on an assignment she gave me a week to do.”
A little micromanaging there, maybe.
That’s what it sounds like.
And the next one, “Forgetting he asked someone else on the team to do something that he then asked me to do and I realize two of us have wasted our time doing redundant work.” Ouch. That one hurts.
That does. So thank you all for sharing what’s bugging you that your manager’s doing. If anyone else is hearing this, feel free, we’re always interested in what bugs people. We’ll get the word out and hopefully your boss will be listening and we’ll get that stopped.
All right, so in the news today, a new federal overtime regulation has gone into effect that has resulted in a million more Americans potentially being eligible for overtime. Many of us who remember the false start we had in 2016, when we believed that the minimum threshold was going to go to $47,476, and then in fact, in December, a judge blocked that, and so this is really kind of a redo. It’s a mulligan, if you would. In March 2019 is when the Department of Labor actually issued a notice of proposed rulemaking that has been approved. The new threshold for a position to be, as one of the tests, to be exempt is $35,308 per year. In addition to this new minimum threshold, the definition of highly compensated has gone up, as has a call for periodic reviews and updates to the – to the salary threshold over time. So instead of just being once and done, there’s a call for it to be looked at on a periodic basis moving forward. So our suggestion to you by the time you hear this, if you still have any jobs classified as exempt and the annual salary for those individuals is less than $35,308, it’s really important to jump on it right away. And it also, whenever you do this type of – look at your positions and try to determine if you’re in compliance. It’s always good to go back to the basics and make sure that the jobs that you say are exempt, not only do they meet the salary threshold, but they truly meet the tests of exemption. Very easy to find by googling on the Department of Labor EEOC exemption guidelines, or bring in a consultant who could come in and do it for you fairly rapidly. All right, well, thank you.
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