It was in November last year that I approached management with the idea of entering a small team of runners from our department to partake in the J P Morgan Corporate Challenge.
An email was sent out late one afternoon to gauge the appetite for it and by 8am the next morning, 70 people had put up their hands, eager to participate. To be honest, I was quite surprised as this was an evening event which involved physical activity.
I immediately realised that I could in fact make this into something more than just a 5.6km race and potentially use it to bring the team together. Well, that was my plan anyhow…
So here’s what I did:
- I sent weekly emails with running, exercise and healthy-eating related information to the team. You’ll be surprised how people soak up information when it concerns their weight and general well-being (especially us women!).
- I made as if we were all training for our first marathon and distributed training schedules. Experienced runners among the group scoffed because to some of them, 5.6kms was a mere warm up. However, majority of the team had never run that distance before and were genuinely nervous.
- I slipped mini facts in to each email about different team members to allow people to get to know one another. So-and-so does aqua aerobics at the gym after work. So-and-so completed Half Ironman so speak to her about training. People were in awe once they started to learn more about their colleagues.
I’m not sure if it’s because of the emails, but people started to talk back. They started to share their stories with me. They’d pop past my desk to chat about running. They’d confess their sins if they had bought take-out on the weekends. They would report back if they managed to take the stairs instead of the lifts. I started to see shifts in behaviour and excitment for the race growing. Even I got nervous!
If I look back, I realise that I personally gained so much out of the experience. I took a chance. I exposed myself to a bunch of people without knowing what their reaction would be to my constant communication. I discovered that a simple email, which honestly did not take more than 10 minutes to write, could contain so much influence and motivation behind it.
But I guess the biggest lesson for me is that team building doesn’t have to be complicated. Sometimes, we under-estimate people’s willingness to just get involved and have a bit of fun.