Earlier this year I attended a conference on Play, the importance of it at all ages and how it can be used in business; in this case to engage people in the process of design. While at the conference I met the event planner. I don’t think we spoke for more than 10 minutes. We later became “friends” through Social Media outlets LinkedIn & Facebook.
Billy Rose’s Jumbo dvd Towards the end of summer I received an invite to spend a weekend with her and her friends at a yearly getaway retreat, their 18th year, on Lake George in New York. Always up for a new experience, something I encourage you to do as well, I accepted the invite.
Arriving at the Seneca Retreat this past weekend I was greeted by Cookie and Deb. It was like a first day at work. They were getting ready for the group that was about to arrive. I was first and they greeted me with enthusiasm. I showed up with equal enthusiasm and offered to jump right in and be of help. I was told what I could do to be helpful (and how to do it their way). I obliged. I took my constructive criticism well; like when I wasn’t paying attention to keeping the fire stoked. During the afternoon Cookie made a humorous remark to me about hanging with control freaks. We laughed. Well good, now there were three control freaks in one room. And whether you want to think so or not, everyone has a bit of control freak in them. Everyone.
The other four arrived later on that day. I was the outsider for sure, but brought right in to the group. It seemed as they were going out of the way to engage me in their conversation and get me up to speed. Or maybe I was doing my part to be part of the group. Or maybe it was a combination. Or maybe Human Resources (Cookie) made such a great selection when she ‘hired’ me?
Unstable Fables: Goldilocks & 3 Bears Show trailer It was a great weekend that consisted of laughing, eating, playing, eating, drinking, rain, eating, playing, sleeping, rain, not sleeping, more rain, more laughing, and more eating. In so many ways our weekend of play was no different than any workplace or volunteer experience. It offered me some great reinforcement/insight into group dynamics that should be brought into any workplace or work group. So here is what I offer you today:
- Be a teacher and a learner – Everyone has a “my way” and a “wrong way” of doing things. Some like to call the my way the right way; others call it the wrong way. I don’t call things a right way; because I don’t always think there is a right way to do something. So by calling it my way it leaves me open to learning another way – perhaps a better way. What do you need to know or learn in order to make your work a bit easier or for you to become more efficient? A simple word game, Bananagrams, became a learning process for all when we had to look up the word dob; when even the person who used it wasn’t exactly sure what it meant; and I’m still not exactly sure it is a word . Grab your teammates together soon and have each person share something they learned to make their job easier or a bit more enjoyable. It’s the easiest way to be a learner and a teacher. It’s also an easy and cheap way to keep people engaged in their work.
- Identify the common links that bond people
– On my way to Lake George I stopped at the Otis Poultry Farm and picked up some farm-made apple cider, donuts and bread. Dropping $20 for my, as my new friends called them, “FREE RANGE” products became quite the joke over the weekend. The cider I picked up was about $6; the cider picked up by Cookie was about $2. So while WE ALL kept laughing at my FREE RANGE purchases, it was clear that it was an inside joke that was bonding people together. What is bonding people together in your group? What are they laughing at together? What are the inside stories, jokes and other funnies that are bringing people together rather than disengaging people and deconstructing the whole purpose of group? Hold a periodic story hour when you believe the energy is draining from your group.
Whether your group is a work group or play group there is always something to be learned. And it’s just one more way to make your work life a bit more fun. Try the three suggested exercises above and let me know what you’ve noticed. I look forward to hearing from you.
Oh, and by the way, I don’t think there was an ounce of control freak in the cabin this past weekend; just a group of people who were committed to making sure everyone was engaged and having a good time. And that was had by all.
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