So I was watching the new LEGO movie with my daughter this weekend and I still (*STILL*) have the song stuck in my brain: Everything is awesome…everything is cool when you’re part of a team!
Firstly, sorry—I just really wanted some company in my small piece of purgatory. Secondly (and here’s the silver lining), I couldn’t help but think, “Yes! Everything is pretty cool when you’re part of a team.” Especially when that team is weird and awesome.
I’m fortunate to be leading a particularly weird and awesome team that has, over time, become like a strange little family. It’s not something that’s been consciously done but I think keeping those quirky fires burning has been essential to our team’s success—it’s what’s allowed us to do our best work and support one another through challenges, change and everything in between.
One of the ways we do this is by carving out time for team building. I’m saying this with air quotes in my head because we’re not at all the traditional team-building types. So, while you won’t catch us doing a trust fall exercise anytime soon, you might find us tobogganing, playing board games, bowling, curling, barely making it out of escape rooms or simply eating lots of snacks. Lots. If you’re looking to help your team be just the right amount of weird and awesome, here are a few tips to help:
- Get everyone involved. When we do carve out space to connect, I like to make sure we’re all in it together. I’ll research a few off-the-beaten-path activities we can enjoy, then fan it out to the group to choose. In these situations, it’s good to know your group. One of my teammates really dislikes board games, and while I find it hilarious to watch her cringe when we bring this up, we do try to be mindful of her (and one another’s) preferences when choosing our next bit of fun.
- Play times are good times. I can’t stress enough the importance of play. It can foster creativity, promote collaboration and release endorphins—all important things for high-functioning (read: weird and awesome) teams. Whenever we’re embarking on something new (or that requires more of our brains than usual), we’ll often start with a playful activity to get the juices flowing—maybe a few rounds of Balderdash, two truths and a lie, some mad libs or the back-to-back drawing exercise (where we learned that a bunch of our communicators really struggle to…er…communicate).
- Laughter’s key. I don’t think this requires any explanation other than to say that if we’re not laughing through whatever we’re doing, it hasn’t been a success. My personal favourite was hitting the miniature roller rink inside a local mall—we shared the rink with pre-teens and laughed at each other until we couldn’t take any more (about 10 minutes for those wondering).
- Be spontaneous. Scheduling time to connect or take a break isn’t always feasible, so take the moments whenever you can find them. Try leaving a bocce or ladder ball set at work and take 15 minutes on a nice day for a quick game. Some of my teammates are cribbage animals and have a healthy(-ish) ongoing competition for bragging rights/cribbage domination. Whatever floats your collective boats, I say!
- Watch and learn. The best way to foster this within your own team is to see what’s working for others and test things out! I have a colleague who carves out time for a monthly team activity, with different team members choosing the activity on rotation. I love hearing about what they’re doing each month, as it’s often something new or that I hadn’t thought of. Container gardening, print making, archery and snowshoeing are just a few ideas I’ve managed to pick up!
So, to bring it back full circle: EVERYTHING IS AWESOME—when you’re part of a team that thrives together. What tips do you have for keeping your team awesome? Share them in the comments below—we’d love to learn from you!