It’s hard to look further to a breakdown of workplace relationships than HSU East (cheap shot…). Fortunately at n2n we embark on an annual journey out of Sydney for a couple of nights of business planning (drinking) and team building (playing).
This year’s trip took us to the beautiful Myall Lakes National Park, near Forster. Set on a small peninsula, surrounded by the crystal clear lakes it was the perfect location for a company-wide physical challenge.
n2n and our sister agency/buddies Fuel had our 40-odd consultants split randomly into seven groups.
A satellite had fallen to earth, scattering pieces across the small peninsula and we had to locate the debris and reconstruct a transmission tower to make a radio broadcast to mission control.
A challenge indeed. But due to earlier challenges on the day each team arrived at the base camp at different times, thus had less or no access to the brief that was to be our new whole company mission. It is within this context that I made two observations of workplace interaction when taken out of an office situation that asked:
1. Where do people look to for leadership?
2. How do you coordinate seven large groups of people and keep them focused on the collective goal?
So what happened?
One of our passionate, wild haired consultants jumped up on the Myall Lakes equivalent of a miner’s ute and read out the mission for all to hear. Long story short, we split up, completed challenges, collected components for our transmission tower with varying degrees of application and varying levels of success. Some didn’t understand the mission at all. We pulled our collective selves together at the end, rushing to successfully complete the radio broadcast with two minutes to spare.
Good for us.
So what did we learn? We did a huge amount right (including commitment, passion, energy and communication) but could have done things a lot better:
- Assess all available information before making decisions
- Choose / self-select a leader – and have them play that role through the entire duration of the mission
- Critical: Ensure everyone understands the context of the situation and what the goal is in order to get buy-in for the mission
- Encourage participation and inclusion – regular updates and support all help people to stay motivated
Applying learnings to our work as a PR agency
PR, like problem solving, involves:
- Identifying the collective goal;
- The logical evaluation of all known relevant information; and
- A rational approach to achieving the agreed goal
1. All people in the team are important and play a role in achieving the identified goal.
2. In order to get the buy-in of the whole team it is crucial to take people on a journey and keep them engaged throughout.
This is a particularly relevant for large communications campaigns when it’s not always possible for every team member to have a direct relationships in their assigned role.
When you’re working in a large team on a big project, it’s important that the leader(s) keep(s) everyone in the loop about the journey – that way you’ll achieve better results and efficiencies.