#BS #teamevents


I’ve attended, mostly unwillingly, a vast array of team building exercises, events and rituals.
So has Andrew and Marilyn and every other employee on the planet.
The evening sleigh ride event when I was the bank, Andrew’s afternoon of horseback riding in the Rockies, and Marilyn’s recent team painting class come to mind as just a few examples.
Do you know what I remember about that sleigh ride?
Two things.
One was being told by the assistant of the boss that it was “not an optional event” when I tried to send my regrets. We were all staying at Banff so it was hard to come up with a valid reason to skip out.
The second was how unpleasant it was: going slowly through deep snow in winter, sitting in straw. Is there anything there to love?  Maybe it was just me.
Last Friday, the PGB management team met at my house- the general manager, head baker and me.
The other member of the team is on maternity leave but she was there in spirit.
In a gesture of formality, I put Minnie and Ellie and their litter box in the bedroom.
I served water as the refreshment. There was no warm-up game to get to know one another.
We sat in the living room, 2 metres apart from each other, and talked for two hours.
Midway through, Andrew took a break from his own work to wander by at a distance and say hi.
We talked about what has happened in 2020 to our business, how the next 6 months to a year may or may not unfold, the options, the ones that seem best, and what we personally want.
There were both tears and laughs.
There is a lot of value in getting a team together away from the office and usually those meetings are called team building events.
But the value doesn’t come from doing creative activities, spending a lot of money, or requiring people to go beyond their comfort zones.
Value comes when these things exist:
– A real problem to solve
– Mutual trust and respect
– A desire to be straight with each other.
Companies have spent a lot of money over the years on getting teams together to do stuff and for those more extroverted than me,  I’m sure they’ve been fun. But when the chips are down and you really need to pull together, the most important element is to start with a strong common base.

About the author

Jean Blacklock

Jean opened the popular Prairie Girl Bakery in the financial district of Toronto in 2011. She owned and operated the business until it closed in 2021 as a result of the pandemic’s impact on downtown Toronto. Read more about her background in commerce, law, and entrepreneurship here.

By Jean Blacklock


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