Summit Team Building Interview with Mary Barry

I am excited to tell you that earlier this year, I wrote a blog post, where I interviewed my colleague, Dave Gibson. You can read all about it here. I am excited to tell you that throughout 2017, I will be giving you a behind-the-scenes look and interviewing each member of our fantastic team. This month I would like to introduce you my friend, talented colleague and the person at Summit who has been training me over the last seven months, Mary Barry.

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

 At my previous place of employment, I had a lot of opportunities to try on different “hats” and one of them revolved around Training and Development. It turned out to be a great fit. I loved seeing people reach those “aha” moments and realized it was something I not only loved, but that I was good at.  When I left that organization, I stayed home with my very young children for a while but soon discovered Summit Team Building through some friends. I did some contract work for a while but as my kids grew, Summit grew, and it seemed a natural fit that I would join the company on a full-time basis. That was over a decade ago and the experiences I have had since then could fill a book.

In your spare time, what do you like to do for fun?

 For the most part I am a home-body. I love to spend time with my now teenage boys and husband. We live on the lake and love to take long walks with our dog every chance we get. I also volunteer with the local rowing club doing anything from timing races, to announcing at major events.  Jim and I have both rowed in the rec (wreck) league and both of our kids have rowed competitively for years. It’s a really great community to be involved with. I can’t even begin count the friends we have made through this sport.  I also love to get away to a sunny and hot beach for a week during the winter without the likes of those boys and just spend some time relaxing and laughing with some girlfriends.

 Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader? Maybe someone who has been a mentor to you?  How did this person impact your life?

 Without a question, that would be my mom. She was a little ahead of her time I think and so was her mom.  Professional, funny, hard working, and so much more. She also made time to do volunteer work that I was sometimes involved with and she is pretty much just an all-round awesome woman. They say you turn into your parents some day…I hope so.

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

 I first started working here in 2003 with the company’s previous owner.  When Scott bought the company, I was part of the deal. I think I met him in the conference room at work and I was not sure if I would like him… it turns out I do. He is a great leader and leads a pretty amazing life.  He is very supportive of my decisions around how to manage work, life and, all of the little glitches that come along with both.

 Do you have a favourite or memorable experience working with Summit?

 Not one, but many. One that stands out is when a participant stood up and told me that this team building event was probably the dumbest thing they could do and that it was going to be a total waste of time. All of this was before I had uttered a word. We were upgraded to “OK ” by the time we were done. I call that a win.

 

Do you have a funny story from working with Summit?

 One of our contract facilitators had a book called “Would You Rather?”  It basically gives you two scenarios that are both ridiculous and asks which one you would choose….and you MUST choose. She read this to a van full of people on a long road trip to a program and at one point I had to make her stop reading because I was fearful that my uncontrollable laughter might drive us into a ditch.

 

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

 Flexibility, autonomy and team support. Sometimes I like to steer my own ship but I know that I can always count on back up, guidance and other perspectives when I need them.  You learn a lot from others’ point of views and in the end, we are all working together to grow as individuals and as a team.

 

How could you help a new employee (like me) understand the culture of our organization?

 We all come from different backgrounds both personally and professionally. It is those experiences that makes our team richer and better able to relate to our clients.  We don’t all say things the same way or act the same way. It’s about finding your voice and using it to build relationships.  You wouldn’t be here if you had nothing to contribute – do it your way.

 

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

 It’s easier to ask for forgiveness later than permission ahead of time (I’m a bit of a rebel they say).

 What are some characteristics that you believe every leader should possess?

 Compassion and optimism.

How would you describe your leadership style?

 Coaching and supportive.

What are a few resources you could recommend to someone looking to gain insight into becoming a better leader?

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

 Dale Carnegie – How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Dan Pink –  A Whole New Mind.

Patrick Lencioni – Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

 

In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?

 Diversity in the workforce.  People in their 50’s and up have very different expectations than people in their 30’s and down.  It is a tricky balancing act to make everyone happy and engaged.

In your opinion, how can leaders build stronger teams?

 Spend some time to find out what makes everyone tick. It’s got to be deliberate and approached from a true desire to understand how you can leverage the strengths and desires that lie within your team. Identifying strengths help build better teams. Understanding desires helps a leader know how to motivate.

Thank you so much Mary.

I hope you enjoyed this conversation as much as I did. I learned so much from Mary. I value her honesty, humour and inspiration. And don’t you just want to meet her mom now? I know that I do.

 

Note: I borrowed some of the questions I asked Mary from this blog post

 

 

The Best Team Building Activities – The Elusive Formula

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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 maximise 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 focuses 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.

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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 organisation.  Just like Google’s analysts, the results might surprise you!