I recently went on a three-week trip to Australia and New Zealand. Besides feeding kangaroos, snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, learning about the indigenous Aboriginals and Maoris-we were all amazed at how 16 strangers melded into a tight oiled team on the first day of the trip. I told the group that I was going to write about them in a future blog. Even our tour guide told us that he never led a group that traveled so well together before he met us.
The rest of this article covers five team building lessons. We didn’t sit down with each other to discuss rules of successful teams. It happened naturally. We all felt very fortunate. Most of the group shared horror stories when they traveled with strangers on previous tours which included bullies, talkaholics, complainers and of course braggarts!
Team Building Lessons #1: No Complaining
We received wake up calls at 4:30 am to go on tours. No one complained. We joked about needing a gallon of coffee and kept on saying, “It is what it is.” We all understood that one of the reasons why we selected Odyssey Unlimited was due to the numerous experiences they included for us. We had to get up bright and early to enjoy meeting aborigines, arriving on time to see the sunrise at Uluru Rock, or beating the crowds on a scenic tour through the fjords in New Zealand.
Team Building Lessons #2: The Importance of Laughing
The laughter started immediately at the airport when some of us met each other for the first time. I was stretching my legs after the 14+ hour flight. Someone said, “Let’s call Joyce Stretch since she likes to be limber.” Everyone started to laugh-including me and that’s how we got to know each other. Sarcasm was not part of the group. We all liked to laugh at ourselves which took down barriers immediately.
Team Building Lessons #3: Show Interest in Others
I looked forward to our meals together because everyone was interested in finding out about each other. We discussed our jobs, families, and hobbies. It was fascinating for me to watch the magic happening. No one talked over another person. We actually cared about each other which was apparent on the first day. We also shared our enthusiasm for all of our experiences-especially when we visited Mt Cook in the Southern Alps and our rooms faced the majestic mountains.
Team Building Lessons #4: Support Each Other
We shared medical supplies and advice when team members got injured or sick. One of the travelers received sad news about a relative at home. We all helped her by listening and supplying our phones so she could speak with her family. We didn’t have to think about this. We were there for her.
Team Building Lessons #5: Trust Your Leader
We all appreciated Warren, our tour guide who knew how to control our vivacious and strong team. There were times that we wanted to do something different from the planned tour. He made a few changes and listened to us as much as he could since he had to answer to his boss. Warren had a sense of humor that was contagious. We started to answer each other’s questions as though we were Warren! Now, that’s quite a role model. 🙂
Team Building Lessons Learned by Joyce
Even though the trip ended, the team spirit continues. We are still in touch via email and some of us will be visiting each other as a result of strong friendships that were formed. I continue driving Warren crazy with my constant questions about the culture. He is going way beyond his job responsibilities and is reaching out to an expert on aboriginal art to find out the meaning of a couple of my purchases.
The group is sharing photos and family updates.
This team was so easy to form. I asked myself why the group of 16 was different from others that I experienced. The stars were lined up. The personalities worked. We were all there for one reason to share an incredible experience with each other.
We can all learn from working with naturally cohesive teams. Ask yourself why that team worked as well as it did. Of course we all experience groups of people who just can’t seem to work well together. This is the time when we have to discuss what needs to be done to make the team work together. Ignoring a weak group won’t help. We all need to pitch in to make positive change.
Discuss the following lessons covered in this article:
- Handling complaints so they don’t become the norm
- Laughing and the importance of a sense of humor and not sarcasm
- Showing authentic interest in each other by making time to get to know team members
- Supporting team members during both good and bad times
- Trusting leaders is a necessity-this is a 2-way street
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Send me your questions or comments on what is and what is not working with your team.
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This is Joyce Weiss
Corporate Communication Strategist and Career Coach
Until next time, Remember…”You Get What You Tolerate!”