Team-building comeback

THE concept of team building has slipped down the management ‘to do’ list of late, which is something of a paradox in these times of reduced staff levels and business insecurity, considering staff cohesion and unity can be major factors in a business’s success.

According to AIM-UWA Senior Management Centre managing director, Professor Ron Cacioppe, smart organisations are using team-building initiatives that add value to the employees and incorporate company values.

“About five years ago people asked: ‘Did it contribute to what we needed to get done’, and realised it was team building for the sake of team building,” Professor Cacioppe said.

“The new generation of team building gives values to the individual and contributes to their personal lives, as well as giving them the opportunity for a good time.”

The Heart Foundation is gearing up for its Climb to the Top campaign, which encourages company employees to climb stairs every day during the month of August.

The main sponsor of the program is Woodside Energy, and while sponsorship is usually aimed at the community and lifting the corporate profile, Woodside Energy senior community relations adviser Danicia Dutry said this event had more internal benefits.

“Initially the Climb to the Top initiative met the objectives of raising awareness of cardio-vascular disease and preventative approaches internally,” Ms Dutry said.

“It got employees out from their desks and moving within the building..

“It works well on the offshore platforms, in particular to build morale and keep the teams occupied and fit during down time offshore. When you’re 200km from shore, having something like this keeps them active and they want to do more.

“It also encouraged a strong sense of ownership to the program as a Woodside-led event.”

National Heart Foundation WA division chief executive officer Maurice Swanson said many companies sought events that helped employees maintain their health.

“Often these types of things are the first to go in times of constraint but this event is one of the least costly and doesn’t take much time,” Mr Swanson said.

“In part this demonstrates to the employees that the employer cares about their health. It shows them as a caring employer.”

Woodside Energy managing director John Akehurst participates in the annual stair climb event and Professor Cacioppe said it was a good way for company leaders to get to the coalface of the organisation.

“It builds a relationship between the team and the leader and they see that he or she is human and is part of ‘us’. He or she also gets to hear things about the company, but essentially it breaks the myth the leader is bad,” he said.

Professor Cacioppe said that, while building teams had become crucial to company success, many organisation were not effectively implementing workplace morale strategies.

“A lot of organisations are not doing it and people quietly go and do something else,” he said.

“A recent conference showed that, around the world, we are losing to team-based organisations but that we moved to self-managed teams too quickly.

“The team didn’t have the skills and they put people into teams without the groundwork and with-out giving them enough inter-personal opportunities.”

Professor Cacioppe is part of an Australian Institute of Management team that will begin climbing 10 flights of stairs every workday for the month of August.

“We’re also doing the City to Surf,” Professor Cacioppe said. “We see it as a nice thing for the community and important for ourselves.”

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