Written by Maria Locker
Finding unique “Team Building” activities is something that has become more commonplace in many corporate and small business cultures. The act of bringing co-workers and team members together for the purposes of planning, building company culture, and team bonding, can be both rewarding and fun.
Our core team within Mompreneurs® (minus one – we missed having you with us, Elaine!) got together recently for our annual planning meeting, where we discussed areas within the company that are working well, as well as specific areas we’d like to change up or further develop. It was a full day of chatting, note-taking, reviewing, and dissecting. I can honestly say that, while we as a team have phone calls and video meetings on a regular basis, being in one room all together always makes the biggest impact, and allows everyone to be more engaged, honest, and open. If you have the means to make it happen, I highly suggest bringing your core team together at least once a year for 1-2 days of connections and high-intensity focus on your business structure.
One of the things I knew I wanted to implement on our planning day was a visit to an Escape Room. I had recently had the experience with both friends and family, and knew that bringing our core team to go through a fun challenge together would help everyone bond over a shared experience, while also teaching us a few things about how we work together, and where we need some improvements.
The minute we got to Escape From The 6, we were whisked away with blindfolds on, which I can say for a fact was already a challenging trust exercise for the majority of us in the group. We held onto each other, and slowly shuffled into an unknown room, completely in the dark about what we were about to embark on. Once our blindfolds came off, it was ‘go time’ and the clock started ticking away. Unlike other Escape Rooms I had tried before, this particular room was an ‘Expert’ challenge that would take an hour to complete successfully, and was based on real-life challenges that a team of Firefighters would experience. This red room was the first of 6 rooms we were to eventually find our way out of, and it took longer than it should have for us to move onto the next room. Being our first room, we were all figuring each other out, trying not to step on toes but also trying not to hold back our natural leadership qualities.
Over the course of the hour, we fell into our natural roles while also helping each other and working as a team. It was an exciting project that went quickly while keeping us fully engaged and thinking 2 steps ahead. I’m proud to say that our team successfully completed the challenge and escaped the room, however we did not finish within the hour as we were supposed to – we were lucky enough to have no other groups scheduled after us, so we finished about 15 minutes past our time allotment.
This brings me to the Top 3 Lessons we learned over the course of the hour:
1. Communication is key.
The facilitator had warned us that communicating would be an integral part of completing our challenge successfully. While we did communicate quite well, there were times that everyone was so focused on their individual tasks, sometimes we didn’t express out loud that we needed help, or we didn’t ask questions out loud that others on the team had answers to (we found this out quite late in the challenge!). This spoke to me on a much deeper level, and reminded me that, while we are all strong and independent individuals, it’s important to ask for help when you are stuck – it will likely save you time and stress in the long run.
2. Small details matter.
Once we were back in the car and headed home, we all discussed what we loved most about the challenge and what we thought we could work on to improve. What I found most interesting was that, as we discussed, it became clear that we each had a revelation at some point throughout the challenge, where we saw something or read something relevant to our escape, but instead moved on to something else, assuming what initially caught our attention wasn’t important or meaningful to completing the challenge. It wasn’t until we completed a task successfully that we realized, had we paid closer attention and let our instincts guide us, we likely would have completed the task much sooner. This was a key learning fundamental that I flagged for our team — going with our instincts, paying attention to the little things, and seeing an idea through fully, is what we need to continue doing as a team in order to see the best results in our company.
3. Know your strengths and pay attention to your weaknesses.
I can only speak for myself here, but this really rang true for me. I found that at the beginning of the challenge, I tried to let others figure things out on their own at first, without meddling (too much) in their actions. By the time we hit the 20-minute mark however, I was getting frustrated that we hadn’t moved on quicker, and my tasks were done but I didn’t know how to help my team. What I realized was that I had failed them; I had found what needed to be done and I did it, but left them behind in the process. At one point I even took Sara’s clipboard to see if I could help move things along, and only slowed things down for her in the long run. I know my strength is to lead and to think things through, but I wasn’t paying attention to one of my weaknesses, which is micro-managing and taking over when I get frustrated. What I should have done was help along the way and check in throughout the process, instead of trying to jump in only when my tasks were completed.
In the end, I’d like to think our team was closer and more in tune with each other after having successfully escaping our room. Victory was bittersweet however; I think we all would’ve kept going for another hour, it was so much fun!
Have any other tips for fun team-building experiences? Please share!
Maria Locker is the Founder & CEO of Mompreneur Showcase Group Inc. (aka Mompreneurs®) and its properties, including Mompreneurs® Momentum Enterprise of Canada, Mompreneur® Magazine, The Annual Mompreneur® Awards, and The Annual National Mompreneurs® Conference. She is a wife and mother of 2, and attributes every success to the unending support and encouragement she has received from her family, friends, and community. She hopes to be an inspiration to her children while demonstrating what can be achieved when you have a passion for helping others and doing what you love.