04/06/2008 - 22:00

Drumming up staff enthusiasm

04/06/2008 - 22:00

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Finding a corporate team-building activity that resonates with everyone is no mean feat, with the number of workshops on offer seemingly as eclectic as the various personalities in the office.

Finding a corporate team-building activity that resonates with everyone is no mean feat, with the number of workshops on offer seemingly as eclectic as the various personalities in the office.

But with businesses across Western Australia keen to retain their best staff in a competitive jobs market, the demand for creative team building activities is on the rise.

A popular addition to the field is African drumming, under the guidance of Paul Osei Kofi, founder of drum school and performing group, Akwaaba.

Mr Osei Kofi says he was approached after one of Akwaaba's performances about the potential for a corporate team-building classes.

Four years later, Mr Osei Kofi has held workshops for about 30 WA companies, mainly through word of mouth.

"The workshop is about survival skills and working together to create a synergy and a unity in the workplace. Drumming is a soulful thing that everyone has," Mr Osei Kofi told WA Business News.

He said the workshop brought a completely different mood to each group.

Most companies choose to bring their staff in the workshop as a surprise, Mr Osei Kofi said.

"The workshops can be organised after an all-day conference; the group of people who don't know what they're about to do, is brought into where I am waiting in my costume with all the drums...99 per cent of the time it is a surprise," he said.

And although some people can be shy, others vibrant or antisocial, everyone comes together when the drums start going.

"I let them play at the beginning and then I start structuring. Sometimes they've been lectured all day so they come in to do something different," Mr Osei Kofi said.

Organisations as diverse as ANZ, the City of Perth, Anglicare and Synergy have experienced Mr Osei Kofi's workshops.

Another player in the sector, Joanna Robertson, owner of the Fremantle Kidogo Arthouse, said she has given her corporate team-building classes to more 1,000 people during the past five years.

Mr Robertson uses what is usually thought to be an individual activity, painting, as a team-building opportunity as she brings groups of 10 people around a big canvas and gets them to paint a picture together on a given theme.

"They have 30 minutes to do a painting on a theme, I give them a bit of a blurb and some advice beforehand...they produce an artwork that they can hang in the office afterwards," she said.

"Most of them have never painted. We take them out of their comfort zone to do something that they will never take time to do normally."

If cooking's your thing, Bicton cooking school cum-kitchenware store, Matter of Taste, provides team-building classes, which often reflect how people are in real life, according to owner Tracey Cotterell.

"The classes are about how people are acting in the team, who is going to use the oven first and at what time," Ms Cotterell told WA Business News in April.

There are opportunities for the most competitive individuals to test themselves at a higher level, too, as the WA branch of Bechtel Mining & Metals has shown. A five-man Bechtel team made a big impression at the Asia challenge leg of the World Intelligent Sports Championships, recently held in Indonesia.

The event is specially designed for corporate team building, involving a combination of physical, intellectual and practical disciplines such as code-cracking, kayaking, mountain-biking or night navigation.

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