The Best Team Building Activities – The Elusive Formula

The Best Team Building Activities – The Elusive Formula

If you are looking for Team Building Activities that will result in the development of a high performing team and don’t know where to start what do you do? Well, you might ask Google and like so many of life’s other questions, Google actually has the answer and it surprised even them as explained in a recent HRM Canada article. http://www.hrmonline.ca/hr-news

After two years of research and hundreds of interviews, Google discovered that of the multitude of Team Building Activities out there, no single one provided the magic bullet they were looking for to put together the best team possible. Many HR professionals spend a lot of time and energy developing Team Building Activities that would group individuals with complementary skills together in order to maximize that team’s effectiveness. Finding the right balance of introverts/extroverts, or developing the perfect matrix of academic credentials would seemingly provide the best foundation for building the ultimate dream team in your industry.

It turns out that this kind of thinking is all wrong and many HR professionals and managers are starting to learn that the best kind of Team Building Activities focus more on the human side of things. Relationship building, fostering trust and collaboration and establishing a culture where people care about each other and the work they do makes for a much better recipe for success than simply looking at the experience and background folks bring to the table.

This revelation was great for us at Summit to hear…our team building activities focus on creating experiences where people can get to know each other better so that relationships can grow, teams can flourish and participants can have some of those “aha” moments that can be catalysts towards high performance.

In fact, this discovery was something that Summit President Scott Kress talks about in his keynote and book, both entitled “Learning in Thin Air.” Scott has climbed mountains all over the world and has been largely successful.  There was one expedition however where the team didn’t make it to the Summit despite all of them possessing excellent credentials. The reason? Little collaboration, lack of trust and not sharing a common goal. That experience did provide a great learning experience for him though and as a result, future climbs featured some team building activities with his crew that ultimately laid the foundation that would result in standing atop the world’s highest peak – Mount Everest.

So, if you’re still looking for that perfect team building activity, take Google’s advice and focus on things like how your team interacts, how work is structured and how your people view their contributions to the organization.  Just like Google’s analysts, the results might surprise you!

Keynote Speaker Toronto

Trying to find a motivational speaker in Toronto is easy – there are a ton of them. Trying to find a motivational speaker in Toronto that will have a message that resonates with your organization is a little tougher.  Remember, you are not only making a financial investment, your team will be taking time away from work to listen to this message so it’s a good idea to think about what they should be walking away with before you start.

Many motivational speakers in Toronto are talented, entertaining and can easily engage groups with stories and anecdotes for an hour or so. People leave feeling energized and have shared some laughs with their colleagues. Then they go back to work and the energy fades, the message doesn’t stick and no return on investment is realized.

Steven Covey wisely said that successful people always start with the end in mind.  In keeping with that idea, here are a few questions to ask when hunting for the right motivational speaker in Toronto.

What are the key messages my team will hear? If this is part of a conference or offsite there are usually themes that you will want to focus on. Having a clear vision of this before you start searching for a speaker will save you a lot of time and effort.

Are the messages relevant and applicable to the work we do? Most motivational speakers in Toronto and beyond can tell you about their experiences but often fail when attempting to relate what they learned to the world their audience lives in.

Will the presentation be entertaining and interactive?  Sometimes it’s great to just sit back and let someone else to all of the talking – but when participants feel as though they are part of the presentation the message will have far better staying power long after it is delivered.

Is the motivational speaker a subject matter expert? Whether it’s leadership, creating high performing teams, change management or anything else, it is vital to know that the person behind the message can back up his or her story with real life experience and present it in a way that will make it easy for listeners to connect the dots to their own lives.

If you check out the Summit Team Building website at and then go to Programs and Keynote, you can learn a little bit about Scott Kress’ keynote option.  Hundreds of organizations have hired Scott to be their motivational speaker in Toronto and around the world.   He has demonstrated an incredible ability to relate to audiences from all sectors and cultures. Scott’s passion is mountain climbing but the lessons he has learned in those high altitudes are the same ones that effective leaders and teams must learn on their journey from good to great.

Scott has two main presentations; High Performance in the Death Zone and Achieve the Outrageous.

High Performance in the Death Zone presents Scott’s story of his ascent of Mount Everest. Not only is this an exciting story, but it is a very educational story. Built into this story are various models, tools and strategies that can be easily applied to climbing your mountains. This keynote has a strong team building and leadership focus.

Achieve the Outrageous tells the story of Scott’s recent expedition to the South Pole. Being one of the hardest expeditions on earth provides fertile ground for learning. This exciting story focuses on the setting and achieving of big goals. It is obviously about team, but mores o about the individual within the team and what they need to do to keep on track. Scott will present his 7 key factors for success.

Visit the Summit website to find out why Scott Kress could be the next motivational speaker you engage for your team.

 

Summit Team Building Interview

My name is Carrie Jones and I’d like to introduce you to my colleague Dave Gibson. Dave has worked with us here at Summit Team Building for many years as a Program Director. Dave works out of our Muskoka office and I work out of our St. Catharines office. Because I am the newest member to the team here at Summit Team Building and because Dave has been a part of the team much longer than I have, I thought that interviewing Dave was the perfect way for me to glean from his experience and wisdom. As you read on, you will discover like I did that this interview is worth pure gold. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

For those of you who haven’t met Dave Gibson, let me introduce you to Dave…

Hi Dave. Tell us about your journey. How did you find your way into Team Development?

One of my first jobs out of University was as an instructor with the Outward bound Wilderness School. The opportunity to explore the outdoors was the attraction. Those wilderness courses brought together 8-10 people from different walks of life for 25 days. Working together on an expedition took teamwork. It ended up being a recurring theme in different jobs ever since.

 How long have your worked for Summit? How did you and Scott Kress first meet?

Scott and I first met in the late 1990’s when we were both working corporate programs on an intermittent basis for outward bound. We both had more hair then. I had my own company at the time and did occasional work for Scott when he started Summit. I joined full time in 2003.

 Do you have a favourite or memorable experience working with Summit that you would be willing to share?

Not a specific one. I’ve always enjoyed facilitating high ropes courses because it’s a return to the idea of adventure as personal growth. I think they can be significant personal growth experiences for people and I like to be a part of that.  They also give a team a shared peak experience that brings them together forever, really.

Do you have a funny story from all of your years with Summit?

It was pretty funny when Claudia was wrapping up a session with an executive team and told them they were all “tools” for high performance. They all thought it was hilarious too.

What have you most enjoyed and appreciated about working with Summit?

Opportunities to work with some excellent people; both my colleagues and many of the clients.

 Do you have a favourite quote or axiom that you live by?

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it; boldness has genius, power and magic in it. (often attributed to Goethe)

 

Dave, how would you describe your leadership style?

Facilitative, democratic.

 What are the top five books you have read on leadership?

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey is a classic

The 5 Dysfunctions of Team and others by Patrick Lencioni

Anything Daniel Goleman especially Primal Leadership

Anything by Dan Pink, Jim Collins, Markus Buckingham

 

Because I am new to  the Summit team, what advice do you have have for me as a lead facilitator?

  • One: If you can, spend time before each session speaking to each person in the group in a friendly way. I do this instead of worrying about the content of my session. I get their names, learn their names and use their names. I chat a bit informally and connect with them. This does two things: it makes them feel comfortable and at ease in the session and it makes me feel comfortable with the group and the space.
  • Two: Have fun. This includes not taking myself too seriously. I try to get people laugh and I tell myself before each session  to “go in there and have fun.”

  In your opinion, how can leaders build stronger teams?

  • Be genuine. Be yourself 
  • Get to know enough about people to connect with them personally and care about them.
  • Think about your role on the team as one of supporter, enabler. What can you do to help them do their job better.

 Well, that’s a wrap. Wasn’t that fantastic? Don’t you just love Dave’s humility and his approach to leadership and facilitation? His humour and his genuine care for people stood out strong to me in this interview. Thanks so much Dave for taking the time to share your journey and life lessons with us.

South Pole Wrap Up

Scott Kress South Pole

Scott Kress South Pole

I arrived back in Punta Arenas on January 3 after a long overnight flight from Antarctica. There is so much to say and to tell that it is impossible to do in this brief blog. We arrived at the South Pole on December 30 at 5pm. Our official completion time is 43 days, 3 hours, and 30 minutes. Not a speed record by any definition, but pretty darn good! With this adventure I become the 7th Canadian and the 119th person in history to complete what is defined as a full unsupported and unassisted ski to the South Pole. I also become one of the few people in history to climb the 7 Summits (the highest peak on each continent – including Mt Everest), and to ski to the South Pole and the North Magnetic Pole.

This was no question the toughest expedition of my life. Yes, I would say harder that Everest even. The difference is that a full-ski South Pole expedition requires a tremendous level of physical exertion for 8-10 hours a day for almost 44 days in our case. We only took 3 half-day rests over this entire period. Any fitness trainer would tell you this type of routine is crazy and will only result in injury; and they are right. We all suffered during the trip and I will be recovering for quite some time to get over various injuries and ailments acquired during this adventure. This type of expedition will exploit and weakness and prior injury you may have and pound on it day after pain filled day.

I have determined, and my team mates will back me up, that there are no easy days on a unsupported ski to the South Pole. As we limped into camp at the end of each day we realized there are only hard days, really hard days, and F@#king hard days. Even near the end when our sleds had lost much of their weight, the altitude (over 9000-feet), accumulated fatigue, caloric deficit,  and chronic injuries made the pulling excruciatingly hard and slow.

On December 30 at 5pm as we skied the final few feet to the South Pole I was overcome with emotion. The combination of accomplishment and the sense of relief was great. We were very fortunate to spend New Years eve at the South Pole and I was able at move back and forth between all the time zones in the world with a few steps and was able to celebrate the new year many times.

We were granted a tour at the famous Amundsen-Scott South Pole Research Station which was fascinating. The Research and science taking place there is well beyond my understanding, but fascinating none-the-less.

After a couple days at the Pole we flew back to Union Glacier and then back to Punta Arenas. Beds, showers, non-dehydrated food, warmth, sunset, and walking without being tied to a sled are some of the simple pleasures I am currently enjoying.

Thanks for following along with my adventure. I hope you were able to gain enjoyment from my journey.

Antarctica Update: January 1

Ryan Waters from Mountain Professionals posted an update today.

p1010600Congratulations to our incredible team of South Pole skiers who are hanging out at the Pole today getting photos and enjoying the finish line of the trip! We arrived to the South Pole camp in 44 days from the coast and skied roughly 495 Nautical Miles to reach the Geographic South Pole via an unsupported full ski trip!

We had a great New Year’s Eve day at the ALE South Pole camp and special thanks to Hannah and Doc Martin for taking great care of our group. We had a great  New Years celebration with some awesome food that was like a dream after expedition food for so many days in a row. Part of our group (Scott was one of them) even made it over to the ceremony at the South Pole base to see the new 2017 geographic Pole marker put in the ground, and somehow we came away with the bamboo stick that was the literal place holder of the 2017 spot, so that is a cool piece of history that we signed and will bring back! It paid to stay awake and see the event! We are all doing well and will fly back some 3 plus hours this evening to Union Glacier camp and it is likely that the team may be on the return Illyusian flight back to Punta Arenas, Chile tonight through until the early a.m. hours landing back in civilization! So we will check back in as things progress.

Antarctica Update: December 30

I am happy to let you know that at around 5pm today their time the team arrived at  the South Pole.  It was a very exhausting day as the snow again was very sticky.  Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions (ALE) the company that runs all expeditions on Antarctica has a small base set up at the South Pole.  Scott said they had a nice dinner in a warm dining tent with the 2 ALE staff.  They also will have their own personal sleeping tents tonight. Scott just texted and said. ” It is good to be here and already it does not seem so bad.  We forget the suffering quickly once we are comfortable again.”  They will stay at the Pole until January 1st when they are picked up and flown back to the main ALE base at Union Glacier.  Then on January 3rd they fly from Union Glacier to Punta Arenas Chile where they have another couple of days before flying home.

Pretty cool to ring in 2017 at the South Pole!

 

Antarctica Update: December 28

Ryan Waters from Mountain Professionals posted a blog update yesterday.

These can be the most challenging days in a full length polar ski trip, when you are very close to the goal but just literally have to keep putting in your time with no short term landmarks to aim for.

We had a great little Christmas here, too much chocolate accompanied by a big dinner and a sip of incredible Bailey’s Irish creme to finish! The past two days since Christmas day have been hard mentally, but very good as far as distance.

Tonight we are at 89’25 so we are hoping that we will arrive in 3 days time at the South Pole if all goes well.  This means we aim to be  skiing into the bottom of the world at the night of the 30th. We battle the little aches and pains and all the usual things that come along with skiing 470 Nautical Miles over the last 40 days! But we hold on strong and keep on pushing to the finish!

Antarctica Update: December 27th

more-snowfall-actually-means-less-ice-in-antarcticaThere have been no blog posts on Ryan Waters Mountain Professional site since December 19th so I thought I would provide an update.  The team is slowly making progress but have had no easy days in the last week.  They got out of the really tough sastrugi filled terrain on December 23rd.  Unfortunately although the terrain got flatter the snow was not good.   It was the “anti-glide” type of snow that Scott talked about in his blog post on December 9th. This makes every ski step slow and difficult.  The weather has also been more challenging as well.  The days are cold, windy and the light is very flat making hard to see. Scott is also suffering physically as an old ankle injury is acting up with the repetitive movement every day and he said that he is in pain pretty much every minute they are skiing.  Despite all the difficulties they are averaging about 20 kilometers per day.  They did take a half rest day on Christmas day.  This was a hard day for Scott emotionally as it was difficult to be away from family and friends on Christmas.  The rest day was good however as he now seems more focused and motivated to make it to the Pole.  They are thinking they will reach the Pole on December 30th or December 31st. Only 3 or 4 more days to go!

Antarctica Update: December 19

Update from Ryan Waters, Mountain Professionals

adventurer-ski-traverse-wind-features-antarctica_34410_600x450It has been a pretty tough few days down here on the White Continent, working through the heavily sastrugi, areas of the 87th Degree. But the team is working hard and  is keen on reaching some better terrain soon. The weather has been a bit more challenging too, as we finally got some real Antarctica conditions… white outs, low contrast light and really cold wind.. up here on the plateau it has dropped several degrees and the wind bites more!

We are just 9 miles away from 88 latitude and look forward to breaking into that target tomorrow with another days work! We were playing Christmas tunes over dinner as we can imagine what things are like back in everyone’s respective home countries and send our best for safe travels this week to loved ones! We will just keep skiing South and talk soon!

Scott has also been sending text updates….I think yesterdays summarizes how he is feeling these days. “The sun was out today but the wind was raging,  It was really cold.  I wore my down pants all day.  It was the hardest day yet…sastrugi hell, going uphill. Unbelievably hard.  I fell 2 times.”  After a couple of hours of recovery he was feeling better.  He said ” I think  2 more days of travel should get us out of the really hard stuff. Last 2 degrees are supposed to be really good terrain.”