When members of high-level management don’t get to work together often, there may be a bit of a re-adjustment every time they’re asked to do so. This can delay some projects or decision-making. Valeant Pharmaceuticals sought our help in guiding leadership team members in identifying their commonalities. We were also asked to help improve communication and collaboration skills. The goal was to help these employees work together more easily and more effectively. What started out as a group of staunchly independent thinkers and actors slowly warmed to a highly engaged and connected team through our Wagon Builders™ charity team building workshop.
Warming Up to Wagon Builders™
We met with about 15 participants at the Valeant Pharmaceuticals offices in Bridgewater, New Jersey. People were pretty reserved, clearly assessing the room and each other; this was not a group used to working together. After a few warm-up games, like Say What I Say and Air Counting (always popular choices!), folks definitely warmed up to each other, and the Wagon Builders™ concept.
We divided everyone into three teams, and gave each team a set of tools. Then the fun began! Through activities like Group Writing, Cup Flip, and Blind Ball Drop, teams competed for the parts necessary to build small wagons. People really got into it, showing increasing levels of energy, effort, and enthusiasm as the afternoon progressed. We also threw in a few challenges to keep folks on their toes. Team members had to communicate, negotiate, and delegate in order to successfully complete tasks. And they did! Teams assembled several wagons in the time allotted.
A Strong Foundation for a Future Project
Ordinarily, we’d have teams fill their wagons with donated toys, books, and school supplies for area kids in need. Then we’d make arrangements in advance with a local charity to meet with the group and accept the donation. In this case, the company leaders who participated in this Wagon Builders™ workshop took the event a step beyond. They planned to organize their own book drive, and fill the wagons on their own as a leadership team project, and make the arrangements for donation themselves.
Building Wagons, and Teams, in Bridgewater, NJ
Instead, we provided the creative materials for workshop participants to decorate the wagons they made. The level of camaraderie in that room increased dramatically over the course of an afternoon. This was a group touched by the silo effect, and to see those boundaries relax a little in pursuit of a common goal – to help kids in need, was gratifying – not just for us as workshop coordinators but more importantly, for workshop participants.