MPI Perspective - October 2009 - (Page 11)

Team Building Events with a Philanthropic In these difficult economic times, organizations are facing a host of challenges, such as keeping employees energized, ambitious, and connected to their work. And with the meetings industry still healing from the black eye delivered by the press recently, many organizations are looking to the community to help them build a better corporate culture. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) team building projects include activities such as building bikes for children, cleaning up a neighborhood park, or improving school facilities. It’s an excellent opportunity for companies to ‘give something back’ while getting a healthy return on investment. At the same time, staff explore their own values as they transform a community facility. Cynthia Shon, president, Corporate Games Inc. says her company designed an “Amazing Race” activity that sends “teams to a variety of challenge stations throughout a community.” Each challenge is a community-service project, but it’s designed so that “teams do not get bogged down or bored at any one place,” says Shon. They receive clues that, working together, help them get to the next station. Working together is key. “Just giving a team of people some supplies and instructing them to repaint the hallway of an inner city school is not team building,” reminds Shon. It becomes team building when the participants make group decisions on how the project will be handled, allocate and use resources, overcome potential problems, manage time, and determine how success is measured. The result is an event that helps the community, allows the team to practice important skills, and provides them with a real sense of accomplishment. It is also important that the activity benefits the participants, and strengthens skills they will use at their present job and in the future. “While the inclusion of CSR components is important, it is equally important to make sure those components are not included at the expense and to the detriment of the overall team experience,” warns Stephen McMichael, director of sales and operations, Total Adventures. “Participants in a successful team building program take away skills they can apply forever and not just a charitable feeling that may only last a few weeks.” An event that both benefits the community and provides a tangible model for team performance at work is ideal. When Twist done right, “a group of individuals working together effectively can achieve far more than the sum of their parts,” says Jayson Wechter, president, SF Treasure Hunts Team Building. “The most successful teams are those that are attentive to all of their members, that engage, include and draw out everyone so they are working in sync and are fully invested in the process.” How to Get Started According to Elizabeth Henderson, director of corporate social responsibility, Meeting Professionals International, planners should “look for a good fit between [the company’s] mission and vision and the mission and vision of the organization it partners with. For example, the American Mortgage Association at one time partnered with Habitat for Humanity because they both have an interest in affordable housing. Send a service project RFP to various organizations and evaluate the responses based on fit, size of project, skills and tools needed.” Goals and objectives should be determined first, followed by the level and complexity of the activity. “What is your desired outcome?” asks Janet Rudolph of TeamBuilding Unlimited/ Murder on the Menu. “What do you expect to be the short-term and long-term applications of the activity? Find out if and how the team building vendor you hire will customize and create an activity for your group.” In addition, Shon recommends organizations should have “people on hand who can check the work” that’s been performed. Poor construction of a bike or playground would be a disastrous outcome. Also, match the activity to the group. “Not everyone is going to be happy putting together a bicycle, pulling weeds for half a day or pounding nails.” If it involves a repetitive task, consider how the participants might react. Make sure that there is enough work for everyone. It’s also important to be cognizant of liability concerns. People must be in “safe situations and they should sign a waiver if doing any outside work,” concludes Shon. These give-back programs, when done successfully, underscore the importance of communication and cooperation and have a direct, positive impact on the community, the participants and the company. A real win-win-win situation! ● MPINCCperspective | VOL. 28, NO. 2 | 11

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of MPI Perspective - October 2009

MPI Perspective - October 2009
President’s Message
Continental Shift
Team Building Events with a Philanthropic Twist
MPINCC – Shaping Careers Throughout the Years Getting to know … Matthew Schermerhorn, CMP
Member Pearls
CMP U — Experience, Knowledge, Support
Chapter Chatter
Team Building Activities in Winter
Index to Advertisers

MPI Perspective - October 2009