Last week IMET held its inaugural international leadership gathering at the picturesque Domaine des Monedieres in France.
This was an opportunity for the various IMET team leaders from the US, France, Czech Republic, and the UK to come together in a spirit of collaboration, fun and friendship.
There was of course a serious business element to the event in sharing the company’s vision for growth and reassociating the group with our company values.
It was also important that people felt at ease and that the planned activities were challenging yet fun and that all the participants could contribute.
Team away days are a bit like marmite – you either love them or hate them
A lot of this stems from employees being forced into doing things they don’t like.
For others it may even go back to the school sports day when someone may have been ridiculed for not being as fast or coordinated as their classmates.
On the other hand, team events are an excellent way to bond and to get people together outside of the normal work setting. The team challenges and activities are also a great way for employees to assess their own abilities within a team environment.
It doesn’t take long for people to realise what their strengths or weaknesses are during activities and its fascinating to see who the analysts are as opposed to the strategists or innovators.
The tasks we selected included constructing wind-turbines out of different materials including bottles, timber, and extruded plastics. The teams were also asked to build towers made of spaghetti, string, and marshmallows! Otherwise known as the marshmallow tower challenge!
The IMET group (formed into 4 teams) performed very well, particularly when it came to building a wind-turbine that had to generate 2 volts of electricity when placed 1 metre from an electric fan.
Some of the structures were very impressive, achieving the 2-volt output although I don’t think renewable energy companies like Siemens Gamesa have much to worry about yet!
Companies often kick the team away day into the long grass for several reasons
There are the usual time constraints and how to fit an away day into a busy calendar. There is also a perception that they are a waste of time, not to mention the general apathy of employers and employees alike when they hear the words ‘Team Building exercise’.
This was perhaps long overdue for IMET and was prompted by a specific need to launch the next phase of our growth strategy that will inevitably raise many challenges along the way. The team day was a great forum to engage the team leaders and prepare them for those challenges.
What we found most encouraging was how well the group gelled. Many of the group already knew each other from previous visits to their international counterpart’s plants, so for them it was more of a reacquaintance with colleagues, many of whom have become friends.
For others it was a chance to get to know their overseas colleagues in an informal setting and despite the geography are still part of one team sharing processes, vision, values, and culture.
‘Culture eats Strategy for breakfast’ – Peter Drucker
We spent an afternoon exploring the essence of good teamwork, before assessing the company values that have been central to IMET’s growth since opening 11 years ago.
Rather than telling the team the values that they need to adhere to, we let them decide by a process of elimination of the values that best represent IMET and were most important to them. Values must be genuine and meaningful if they are to be effective.
This was a fascinating session as the values identified as the most meaningful to the group were practically identical to those that we established all those years ago and have been integral to IMET’s growth to-date.
There is a clear relationship between leading organizations and brands with unique values and financial performance – a 2019 Glassdoor report showed that 83% of companies with positive comments on their performance also received positive comments about their values.
The post event feedback has been very positive, and our team-leaders went away with renewed vigour. The next and equally important stage is to maintain the post event legacy and to keep the refreshed values at the heart of our strategy.
We look forward to meeting again!