Adoption STAR staff recently spent a half-day participating in activities designed to foster an even stronger sense of teamwork and camaraderie.
The morning of August 11th, 2015 was earmarked as a half day of teambuilding here at Adoption STAR. From the very beginning, Adoption STAR Founder and CEO Michele Fried didn’t want the events of the day to feel “routine” or “forced.” So, the staff were divided up into teams and given the responsibility of researching, developing and then running a team building exercise of their choosing (although Adoption STAR’s Director of Adoption Kathy Crissey was charged with “signing off” on each team’s chosen activity, largely to avoid duplication). Adoption STAR Associate Director Michael Hill provided each team with a name, which were chosen from a list of the ten brightest stars that can be seen in the night sky. They were Team Procyon, Team Sirius, Team Vega, Team Capella and Team Arcturus.
After a brief breakfast first thing in the morning, the specific activities started…and WOW! They really ran the gamut in terms of different approaches and methodologies for further developing cohesiveness amongst our team.
Team Procyon used a campfire theme (complete with a fake campfire, nighttime wildlife/campfire sounds downloaded from the Internet, a completely darkened room in the building’s lower level, flashlights, bug spray, and even S’mores in a jar treats for everyone) and asked all staff to share a meaningful “campfire story” about their time with the agency. The stories varied, but they all induced an emotional response – sometimes laughter, sometimes tears – and all focused on an Adoption STAR specific story, event, or experience.
Team Sirius set up an obstacle course and had pairs of staff members team up to complete the course with an interesting twist – one staff member would be blindfolded while walking through the course, while the other staff member would verbally guide the blindfolded staff member through the course. If the blindfolded staff member bumped into an obstacle while on the course, they had to go back and start from the beginning.
Team Vega used an interesting “magic carpet” activity to encourage staff to work together on a physically challenging task – get from one end of the training room to the other while using “magic carpets” to do so. Sounds easy enough, but the problem was the rules regarding what was allowed/not allowed in completing the task were constantly changing, and bargaining in making changes to the rules was allowed if staff were willing to give something up – like the use of their hands or the ability to
to co-workers while trying to complete the task! to co-workers while trying to complete the task!
Team Capella used a game that involved obvious things that go together in pairs (like salt and pepper, for example). They put these items on post-it notes and then taped them on the back of each participant without letting them see what it is. When given the “go” signal, staff members lined up across from one another in two rotating lines and asked yes or no questions to find out what was written on their back and who their matching partner was. Once the pairs found each other, they sat down and conducted brief interviews to discuss three interesting facts about each other, which were reported back to the entire staff.
Lastly, Team Arctura distributed pieces of paper and various coloring utensils (markers, highlighters, etc.) and staff were given some basic framework instructions for developing freeform designs of their choosing using “cool” colors on some pieces of paper (blues and purples) while using “hot” colors on other pieces of paper (yellows and oranges). The pieces of paper were then assembled to show a beautiful star-themed collage, which will be the design inspiration for a yet to be developed Adoption STAR notecard.
The day was fun, insightful, meaningful, and thoroughly enjoyed by everyone in attendance (as evidenced by the shared commentary we offered up during a “debriefing” session we had together at the end of the morning). If nothing else, Adoption STAR staff developed a more profound appreciation of each other, our individual strengths, our unique perspectives, and how as a collective they add up to make a truly remarkable team