Teams Can Have Fun
With all the pressures facing organizations, it
can be difficult enough just doing your job without
having to think about teamwork. But whether
it’s at work, home, or in some community-based
activity, you can always accomplish more working in
teams than you can individually. So how can we build
teamwork while still getting our work done?
It’s tough, but sometimes you need to take a
little time out of the office and get away from the
work to make the big strides that are necessary to
build effective teams.
A few years ago, I had been thinking a lot about
how I could add more value to our leadership
programs, how to better demonstrate the concepts, and
how to add a team-building component to help the
groups work together more effectively. As I worked on
this in my normal environments of home, work, and
client sites, I kept coming up with the same old
But when my family and I took a trip to Club Med
in Sandpiper, FL, I was able to free my mind from the
normal routine and explore some new directions and
The Club Med family villages are great places for
family vacations. One activity that our entire family
enjoyed during our vacation was the flying trapeze.
This is not simply a swing that you might find
hanging from a tree in your backyard, but a
regulation-size flying trapeze similar to what you
would see in a circus.
During the course of the week, guests learn how to
climb the ladder (no small task for some people) and
step over onto the platform. Once there, a circus
GO—a Club Med staff member—helps you grab
onto the bar of the swing, step off, and
“fly.” Next, you learn how to pull your
knees up and hook them over the bar to get in
position for the catch. When you’re able to do
this, a circus GO on the opposite swing will grab
onto your wrists and actually catch you as
you’re swinging. This is an exhilarating and
amazing experience to say the least!
What I began to notice as I watched others
learning the trapeze was how the circus team seemed
to know intuitively how to instruct each person
individually depending on their level of readiness to
perform this activity.
When a person was willing and interested, the
circus team took a more hands-off approach and
offered only general instructions. “Climb the
ladder until you reach the net, turn around to the
other side of the ladder, climb up to the top, and
step over onto the platform,” they
When a person seemed nervous and apprehensive, the
circus team gave very specific instructions on
performing individual parts of the process. “I
can see you’re a bit nervous. Just climb up six
steps until you’re even with the net, then
we’ll take it from there,” the GO
The most amazing thing, though, was the way that
the guests at the trapeze (from diverse cultures and
literally a dozen different countries) began to
support each other. Some guests were almost fighting
over who would be the first to climb the ladder.
Others took a wait-and-see approach. Still a third
group stayed back in the shadows, not interested at
all in trying the trapeze.
As each person climbed the ladder and stepped off
the platform, the people on the ground cheered wildly
and applauded after the swing and a safe drop into
the net. And when people got caught for the first
time, everyone on the ground rewarded them with
applause and shouts of praise.
I watched this in amazement, and then it dawned on
me. If a group of complete strangers could bond in a
matter of hours, just imagine what an intact work
group could accomplish!
The result was a new program called
“Learning to Fly.” This three-day
leadership retreat combines the fun of a Club Med
trip, the excitement of the flying trapeze, and the
practical value of a leadership-training program.
While a leadership retreat to Club Med is
certainly an incentive to attend this program, there
are other ways you can achieve similar results
- Do something unexpected. Show up at a
staff meeting with team T-shirts for everyone.
Bring in pizza for a lunch meeting. Have a staff
meeting at a park.
- Set stretch objectives. Set the bar
high for deliverables and then reward the
accomplishment with recognition worthy of the
- Reward team efforts. Instead of
singling out individual accomplishments, recognize
team efforts, and do so in a way that encourages
the team to continue working together.
Remember—the key to developing teams that
can work together and have fun is to get all members
of the team supporting each other’s individual
and group efforts.
A nationally recognized customer service
expert, author, and trainer, RON
ROSENBERG, CSP, recently founded
Drive-You-Nuts.com, a Web site dedicated to helping
people get the service they deserve and to teaching
companies how to provide it. He has been featured in
publications including The New York Times, Smart
Money, and Real Simple and has appeared as a guest on
nationally syndicated radio shows including
“Dateline Washington” and the “Gary
Nolan Show.” For more information, visit his
Web site at www.drive-you-nuts.com