Recently, the SiteGoals team participated (and won!) a pumpkin-decorating contest sponsored by Vitamin T. We love a good challenge and the idea of competing against some of our local design agency friends sounded like the perfect side project.
We decided to have a couple of nights where we stayed late and worked on the project since business hours were obviously not an option. After gathering the supplies and materials needed, we were on our way. You can check the finished product in our previous blog post. While I was on the ground, carving away at a cardboard city scape, I got to thinking how grateful I was to be 1) in this company and 2) on this team. Now, you might say that by being in the company you’re on the team, but that’s not necessarily true. You can clock in and clock out without any other investments in your company besides input and more importantly output (a paycheck). It’s stuff like this little project that really get people engaged and feeling like a team.
Then I started to think about this as a strategic move through the eyes of an agency owner. I’m not saying I looked at team-building exercises like a big plot for productivity but frankly, the more I thought about the more I realised it actually can be in the long run.
I want to use this pumpkin example. Let’s say this company spent $200 on materials for this project. Then everyone staying late had dinner on the company tab. And then lunch again to celebrate the big win. So let’s say it all came out to $300. That’s $300 plus time spent planning and executing (over 100 hours for the team). Add time spent pushing it out on social channels and time for clean up. This turned into a major project, but one with a pretty good ROI, when it comes to morale. So how did we stretch this team ‘investment’ so successfully?
- See each team member outside of their professional skills. When building this project, we turned to each team member for something different. I learned Cody likes to work with circuit boards and lasers, Amanda has an eye for geometric design and super skills with an exacto knife, and Korin has a way with painting details. This isn’t to say you have to lead an art project for every team-building activity, but ask people what drives their life outside of work and then plan an activity around it.
- Make team building mandatory not demanding. We all had to help in building this pumpkin. Not everyone stayed late, but everyone had a hand in the project in some way. When we all helped, we all had an investment in it. The contest became more exciting. It seems silly. However, if you let people exclude themselves they will feel excluded even when they are the ones doing the excluding.
- Don’t let it get in the way of actual business. This is a ‘duh’ point but still worth mentioning. You can’t run a movie theater disguised as an office. If your playing time gets in the way of your paying time, it’s time to reel it in.
- Give your team members ownership. As a business owner, you know no one has or will have a higher stake in the company than you. This is why it’s important to celebrate finishing large projects together. Showing gratitude with a company lunch or simple thank you goes a long way.
So what’s it worth? Well, we won the contest. We won because we all had a stake in it. We were proud to post it. As a team of 10 or so going up against companies with 50+ employees, our votes meant little. We had to rally hundreds of our friends and social media followers with us. However, even if we hadn’t won, we still had enormous pride in what we accomplished together. That pumpkin will be an emblem for how successful we can be as team. It’s even scored a central spot in this year’s SiteGoals Holiday Card (stay tuned for that masterpiece!) That may be the cheesiest sentence I’ve ever written but I don’t care… Long live the SiteGoals Omnipumpkin!