Medtronic Millennials Max Out on Mad Teamwork Skills Here in Minneapolis

For a set of Millennials from Medtronic, teamwork came naturally.

This can happen for a number of reasons, but in this case it definitely had a lot to do with “connectedness”!

Medtronic-LogoWith just a few minutes for setup but a big room perfect for a teambuilding workshop, our facilitator found this group had what it took (and more) to do teamwork right.

Trust is huge in teamwork.

That “connectedness” isn’t something you find in every workplace.  It’s more of a quality you find in a close circle of friends, a school cohort, or a family.  However, it’s always something to shoot for on teams because it does such great things for communication and productivity.

Here’s an example from this Medtronic workshop, which was held at operational headquarters in Minneapolis for a group of interns.

“Mirror Mirror” is one of our most popular icebreaker activities because it gets participants to focus on reading signals from others.  Partners take turns writing numbers in the air, mirroring each other and trying to guess which numbers they’re writing.

One pair did so well with this challenge it was noticeable right away.  Turns out their secret was a super high level of connectedness between them because they were not only co-workers at Medtronic, but also roommates!

Teamwork is about connection but it’s also about trust and understanding.  When you know someone, you build trust and you learn his or her communication style as well.  This leads to being able to cut to the heart of the matter on projects or any collaborative effort.  Nice job, girls!

When communication isn’t a barrier, collaboration is easy.

Bicycle-Team-Building-Workshop-LogoWe saw the same leverage being used throughout the workshop: since each participant was of the same 20-something age group, certain assumptions about communication and behavior were leveraged for a more successful outcome.

Wouldn’t it be great if every workplace was like this?

The second icebreaker activity was called “Thirteen Colonies” and with a custom version of the activity aimed at their age group, the participants nailed this one too.

The collaborative energy in the room rose even higher during the main activity oft he day: building bicycles for a Minneapolis charity.  Teams who finished their bikes early showed incredible solidarity with the group and merged into other teams to help them finish up!

Communication, then collaboration, then amazing creativity and super productivity.

Boys-And-Girls-Club-Twin-Cities-MinneapolisAs you can see, when communication is not an obstacle, collaboration becomes incredibly simple.  That leads to a whole world of increased productivity, individual initiative, and other wonderful surprises.

Case in point: one of the Medtronic interns, out of nowhere, created unique hand-made bags for the kids from the receiving charity.  The bags contained lots of fun and thoughtful items and really put a crown jewel on the whole event.

Boys & Girls Club arrives and we wrap it up.

For the final event of the workshop, a rep (Carlos) from the Boys & Girls Club of Minneapolis visited, bringing with him some kids from the club.  They were there to officially “receive” the bikes and provide everyone a chance to connect with the charity they were working for.  One of the kids from the club had a birthday that day so the event took on a truly celebratory tone.  It was a true testament to the power of teamwork and positive energy.



Verizon Struggles with Corporate Change and Calls in the Pros

If you’re a manager, then you know that with any sign of corporate change in the air, you have to be on your toes.

Verizon-logo-2015Things can quickly go south if your team doesn’t stay on track in spite of changes occurring all around them.

One key tip for navigating change is keeping morale healthy in your team.  Verizon Wireless sent their team to us exactly for this reason.  A charity team building workshop turned out to be just the ticket for sagging morale amidst company-wide changes!

Verizon wanted above all to benefit someone else.

When the Verizon manager came to us and asked for help in choosing a team building workshop, she stated there was one major stipulation.  The event had to do something that benefited others!

That narrowed it down pretty quickly to our selection of charity team building workshops.  We suggested Wagon Builders™, which benefits kids or families in the Minneapolis area.  Teams build little red wagons and them fill them with toys, household supplies, or whatever items fit the receiving charity.

Secondary goal: managing change.

Our initial consultation with the Verizon contact revealed a lot of things.  She mentioned that the group was stumbling along a rocky path of corporate change lately, and she’d love to address that during the workshop as well.

In addition, she ticked off a few other items on her list: peer relationships, merging teams, and thinking outside the box.  We had our work cut out for us!

Wagon Builders™ provided all of that and more.

Wagon-Builders-Charity-Team-Building-Workshop-LogoBy filling wagons with donations for a local charity, the Verizon group fulfilled their primary goal.

As for relationships and thinking outside the box, the hands-on activities of this workshop addressed those topics as well.  All our workshops do this, actually!  And the goal of focusing on merging teams?  That required fundamental communication skills, which of course are always a part of our workshops.  Done, done, and done!

Wagons go to the Ronald McDonald House of Minneapolis

Ronald-McDonald-House-LogoWagons assembled by the teams were filled with useful items for kids, then donated to the Ronald McDonald House right here in Minneapolis.  That’s goal #1.

How the workshop went.

After icebreakers (Air Counting), the 55 participants were divided into teams.  This broke up little bunches of co-workers who stuck together out of habit, since they worked side-by-side every day of the week.

This did wonders for getting everyone to leave old communication patterns behind and adopt a fresh perspective.  Once that was accomplished and the ice was broken, we did an exercise to determine team leaders.  These leaders were to play important roles throughout the rest of the Wagon Builders™ event.

Workshop activity actually mimics the perils of corporate change.

The next activity was called “Minefield” and involved team leaders choosing someone from their group to leave the room.  In the meantime, teams placed school supplies around a square, creating a “minefield”.

Upon return, the chosen participant is blindfolded and led through the minefield by teammates’ verbal instructions.  Everyone gets involved, and success depends on collaboration and great communication skills.

It just goes to show that everyone needs a coach or friend at work.  Sometimes you’re that blindfolded guy and sometimes you’re the mentor, guiding someone through a difficult patch.

It all tied in nicely with the goals Verizon Wireless set out to achieve.  Score another one for teamwork!