And why you should join them in doing so...
Often, when I speak or write on leadership, I do so from a perspective of what I’ve learned or observed as one leading others. This blog, however, comes from a unique experience where I was the beneficiary of the effectiveness of good leadership.
Several months ago, my boss approached me and a coworker asking if the two of us, along with our wives, would be interested in joining him and his wife for a conference on the west coast. Furthermore, he explained that the cost would be covered for all of us!
We took some time to think about it…and 30 seconds later all four of us had readily agreed to go!
We spent several days in sunny California, attending main and breakout sessions, as well as doing some hiking, eating delicious food, and having great talks while exploring the Napa Valley. On our way home I was struck by the rich effect this time together had on me. I could feel the connection of relationship getting stronger; not only with the people I work with—but also with their family members.
Shared Experiences are a key ingredient in cultivating and maintaining healthy teams...
A Shared Experience is a moment, activity, encounter or event that is extra-ordinary in nature and for the sole purpose of being experienced with other members of the team.
I want to suggest THREE positive results that Shared Experiences can have on your team. But first, lets clear up two common misunderstandings about shared experiences that, left un-addressed, will detract from the desired effectiveness.
For starters, extra-ordinary doesn’t have to be extraordinary. These moments designed to help your team share life together do not have to be tremendous trips or extravagant endeavors. Granted trips to California are fantastic, especially when you live and work in the midwest, but trips to get ice cream can be just as sweet (pun intended). In fact, I have talked to people who have been given trips like cruises and vacations by their companies. Generally their feedback is that while it was a nice reward for success at work, but it didn’t leave them feeling more connected to their team or their leadership.
Next, don’t miss the fact that the sole purpose of creating a Shared Experience has to be the generation of camaraderie and team unity. These cannot come off as a negotiations or bargaining for motivation. People know when they are being manipulated under the guise of “fun.”
Right after I graduated from college, I went to work for a team that (which I discovered after I joined) had a reputation for low team morale. There was a high staff turnover and the team culture bordered on toxic. Every summer, the leadership would give the entire organization a half-day off so they could attend a company cookout. Even though it resembled a Shared Experience, the unspoken understanding by the whole team was that this was a ‘head fake” in the direction of team building. The event was set up to make it feel that the leadership was concerned about the morale, but it didn’t connect. It came off contrived and not genuine. Especially because you “given” the time off if you came to the cookout, otherwise you had to stay at work.