The other week my division participated in a day-long retreat designed to focus us on our corporate and divisional operating plans and the roles each of us will play individually and collectively.
One of the team building exercises we did was a real eye opener, which was surprising given that I was blindfolded for it!
Our session was facilitated by Jeff Smith of Titan Group, a human resources consulting firm. In short, three of us were blindfolded and the other team members had to help us complete a task, which required navigating a “field” that contained obstacles. To add to the challenge, we had a time limit.
The outcome of the exercise isn’t as important as the process, which forced us to consider how we brought everyone on the team along. To complicate it, the obstacles in the field moved, which frustrated some.
For those of us who have leader positions in the organization, Jeff shared that our job is to move the obstacles out of the way so that our employees succeed. He also noted that most leaders are not usually thanked for when they move those obstacles; it’s simply part of doing the job.
Before beginning the exercise or task it’s important to outline the vision and then the steps needed to succeed. If you don’t know what the goal is, how will you know if you succeeded? When we were faced with the challenge, we immediately asked what the goal was. Was it speed? Accuracy? Quality? Knowing those answers helped us consider how to approach the assignment.
As we worked to complete the task, we were supported with cheers and applause as we reached milestones, and, again, Jeff noted the need to support the small steps.
We dove right into the assignment but upon review we learned that it was okay to experiment and practice before we committed to our approach. That would have provided us with an opportunity to tweak our plan and, most likely, succeed sooner once we committed.
I always find these exercises intriguing because they provide me with a different perspective on reoccurring situations. Once again my blindfold had been removed and I had a clearer vision of how to successfully support my team. If you’re a leader, what do you do to support your team?