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Welcome to the Fresh Tracks team building blog. This is a growing collection of team development news, opinions, tips and advice. We would love your input so feel free to comment or get in touch.

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Nature’s greatest teams

According to an article on the BBC website bees and ants are nature’s greatest teams.

The Bees from Hyde Park on a team building event
The Bees from Hyde Park on a team building event

Apparently unlike some animals who want to get to the centre of large groups to keep themselves safe from predators ants and bees work together as a single unit and are prepared to die for the greater good of their team/colony.

Dr Andy Gardner, from the University of Edinburgh, said: “We often see animals appearing to move in unison, such as bison or fish.  However, what looks like a team effort is in fact each animal jostling to get to the middle of the group to evade predators.  By contrast, an ant nest or a beehive can behave as a united organism in its own right. In a beehive, the workers are happy to help the community, even to die, because the queen carries and passes on their genes.

How far would you go for the success of your team? 

To read the full BBC article click here.

Teams have competitive advantage

When Southwest Airlines said that it’s important to them that staff have fun at work did anybody believe them or did it just sound like more corporate mission statement jargon?

Our people are our single greatest strength - Gary Kelly

It’s easier to put a mission statement on the wall than it is to put it into action. We know of organisations who have spent months of meetings carefully crafting and re-wording their corporate mission statements, only to find the life sapped from them soon after they’re finished. Or sometimes mission statements work for a while, but then turnover takes a toll and the new people never seem to really get on board.

It’s great to see the video, above, of David, a Southwest Airlines flight attendant, keeping some of their mission statement alive.  He and his colleagues make a great team because they’re committed to the same vision and they support each other.  There is no doubt that team work benefits everybody – customers and colleagues alike.  But sometimes people within an organisation forget they’re part of a team.  One department regards another as a thorn in its side and sometimes colleagues just don’t like each other.

A key factor to success during these hard economic times was summed up by Gary Kelly, CEO of Southwest Airlines, when he said “Our people are our single greatest strength and our most enduring longterm competitive advantage.” Long may it last.

A day in the life of an event manager

From protecting the event equipment from monkeys to facilitating a team building programme for 140 managers, event management can require a lot of different skills.

Sir, Im afraid this is over your weight limit.

Sir, I'm afraid your are over your weight limit.

Trying to explain to the curious staff at the Virgin check-in desk quite why we needed two aluminium pyramids, 65 hoola-hoops and 140 white baseball caps was the easy part…… Managing to make 200 lengths of rope, 35 pencil cases,  staff uniforms,  assorted event equipment and a bundle of paperwork meet the strict baggage restrictions was not so easy.

The look on the honeymooners’  and holiday makers’  faces as we struggled across the terminal with our  peculiar luggage was priceless at 5am in the morning. Little did we know what lay ahead; we faced a 9 hour flight sitting  with the Barmy Army England cricket supporters also on their way to the Caribbean . Let’s just say we got no sleep whatsoever!…

What motivates your staff?

Corporate values could be a determining factor for staff as they choose to join, stay or leave your organisation.

Does charity begin at work?

Does charity begin at work?

Friday was Comic Relief Day and this year it seemed to bring relief in a number of ways.  The record total raised of £57m will undoubtedly help those in need in Africa and closer to home.  This year, perhaps more than in previous, years the opportunity to laugh and give seemed  also to bring some relief to those watching and giving.

Two examples stand out in my memory of generous giving.  One was the anonymous donor of an incredible £6m; the other the little girl who gave up a whole month’s pocket money.  I wonder if now that it’s no longer ‘cool’ to splash out on flat screen TVs and designer gear the public at large is discovering that a greater sense of satisfaction comes from giving rather than getting. 

If my hunch is correct, then what does this mean for employers?  …

Open all hours?

To what extent does an “open all hours” policy with regards to communications give added value to clients, or  help generate new business?

Call us now on 01920 822 220

Call us now on 01920 822 220

 Most organisations are now accessible online 24:7, and many individuals are contactable by email outside regular office hours.  Here at Fresh Tracks we don’t have any hard and fast rules about who should be available  at specific hours, but we want to offer as good a customer service as we can to both existing and new clients. As a result we’ve been trialling various options to deal with phone enquiries out of hours and wondered if anyone had any views, research information or comments?

In general we resort to the good old answerphone for any out of hours queries, with details of  emergency or urgent contact details given in our answerphone message. Does anyone have an opionion (or research) on what business might be lost if someone, calling say at 10pm on a Friday night, gets an answerphone and refuses to leave a message?…

Trust in your team

At the Fresh Tracks office we recently got together as a team look at the issue of trust.  It made me realise how much we take trust for granted when it’s there, and how much extra work a lack of trust can create.

Can a successful team function without it?

Can a successful team function without it?

Although our session included event managers, admin staff and senior managers, it was fairly informal and allowed participants to look at their own views on trust –  how and why trust is important at work and at home; what does trust mean to the individual and to the team; what would happen if there was little or no trust in colleagues.

In our team, it soon became apparent that there is quite a huge amount of trust; everyone seemed to take it for granted that they would be trusted and that they would in turn trust their colleagues. For us that makes for an easy and friendly work environment, part of the reason we choose to work here at Fresh Tracks. But it also made me realise that trust is ultimately at the heart of this office culture….

Performing under pressure

So far this year I’ve spent more hours than I care to remember trying to calm the nerves of fraught conference organisers.  Often days before the event has even started.

A great team performing under the pressure of live TV

A great team performing under the pressure of live TV

Today I spent the afternoon on the set of a live TV show.  With just two hours to air the production team managed to deal with numerous unforeseen crises calmly and confidently.

Much has been written about stress and its impact on individuals but this afternoon’s experience got me thinking about team stress.

It’s surprising how often we allow anxiety to build from within our teams, limiting productivity, stifling creativity and eradicating the fun from work….

Fresh Tracks live on Channel 4

Dan Collins has been invited onto live television to talk to the masses about team building.

Dan is live on Pauls programme on 4th March

Dan is live on Paul's programme on 4th March

As you all know, at Fresh Tracks we are passionate about how teams work and improving motivation, whether in business or socially. Therefore when we had a request from Paul O’Grady to appear live on his Channel 4 show today (Wednesday 4th March 2009) to talk about the importance of having fun at work and how to get the best out of a team, we jumped at the chance.

So if you would like to see Dan Collins run Paul and some of his production team through a team building exercise please tune into Channel 4 at 5pm today and then post a comment below and let us know what you thought.

Successful Corporate Event Planning

Most organisations are having to make every penny work for them at the moment, so if you’re thinking of holding a conference, staff away day or any other team event, make sure you consider the basics to make it work for you.

This would not be classed as a successful event!
This would not be classed as a successful event!

 Here are some handy hints to make sure you get the best out of your event:

1. Be clear about your objectives
Before you even start thinking about content, the venue or even a date, you need to establish what it is you’re holding the event for. Is it to communicate a particular message,  to announce a new initiative,  to motivate staff, or purely as a social and fun occasion? In particular, ask yourself what would a sucessful event look like? The rest of the planning – style, content and delivery – should then refer back to these objectives….

Trust me I’m an author

How to survive the recession with a little trust

Trust Unwrapped book cover

Trust Unwrapped book cover

Dan Collins founder of Fresh Tracks and co-author of Trust Unwrapped has been featured in UTalkMarketing.com talking about the effects of trust in business and suggests that rather than being a diminishing corporate value ‘Trust’ is in fact the crucial ingredient for surviving the recession.  Read the full article by clicking here.

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