I like working in teams. There’s something so satisfying when you see a group of people completing tasks together in a respectful, collegial and fun manner. An effective team needs a solid foundation and I fundamentally believe that a key to this is spending genuine time with each other. The role-modelling needs to come from the top, therefore managers and leaders must be involved too.
I have witnessed too many instances where managers and leaders assume that they need to clear lines with their staff, or maintain a hierarchy of some sorts. Get real. People respond to people, rather than a falsely constructed ego reeking of grandeur.
Today I held a team building day with my teams and we spent the morning engaging in a few connecting activities and one of them involved playing a song from the very first album we heard or bought. The songs ranged from Simon Garfunkel, Michael Jackson (70s and 80s versions), Whitney Houston, The Kinks, Fleetwood Mac, Peter Andre, oh and Allanah Myles (yes, I bought the cassingle from a music shop at Mangere Town Centre). Naturally many anecdotes and memories flowed from these songs.
After having lunch together at Bread and Butter Cafe in Grey Lynn (fantastic food and service by the way), we headed to Newmarket to experience a session on robotics at The Mind Lab by Unitec.
For those of you who don’t know, The Mind Lab is a specialist education lab dedicated to enhancing digital literacy capability. In other words, we can get all hi-tech and geeky and find new ways of working and collaborating with each other.
We were totally blown away when we entered the Lab and it was like stepping into an grown-up version of the Willy Wonka’s Factory. Our facilitator Rich warmed us up with an activity featuring 30 tennis balls, then introduced us to coding. By this stage my heart starting beating quickly… maths and physics were never my forte.
He showed us how a cartoon cat could make a noise, by applying logic and coding rules to enable this happen. Using this learning we worked in teams to create a ‘sound box’ that could play music. My partner Di and I struggled away at this and realised that coming up with the creative ideas, was way easier than making it practically. But we persisted. Our sound box ended up NOT looking like what we thought, but hey, it did make a distorted sound.
To cap off the session we created the coding to make a remote controlled car move. I worked with Deb on this and we successfully got it moving forward and backwards, despite the odd time when it went hurtling under the table.
What I loved about the session at The Mind Lab is that it totally made us feel comfortable with using digital technologies. The instructions were brief and it was up to us to figure out how to make things work. It was so great to see team members checking in with each other for help and ideas.
My team members and I can now say that we have experience coding and making a robot. Team + chatter + music + food + robots = strong team. All from one day’s investment of time. Do not underestimate the power of thoughtful team building.