As COO of Sperry Van Ness International Corporation, my job is to make sure everyone in our company is working efficiently, effectively and creatively to exceed expectations and delight our franchisees. As businesses like ours expand around the globe, we’re all working longer hours and tackling more projects; yet sometimes the most productive thing a company can do is put down the work and have some fun. The following article outlines a really fun way to check in with your commercial real estate team to see if they are operating at top capacity.
The “Challenge Room”
Recently we had an operations summit in Atlanta. After a long day of meetings, my team took an evening off and spent it trying to find our way out of a “challenge room.” What was clear throughout this team-building activity was that we have a group of professionals who were not only smart but also high-functioning and very fun (even when locked in close quarters).
A challenge room is a new trend where you actually pay to be locked in a room where you have to work together to unlock Da Vinci Code type clues in order to accomplish a mission (ours was to find a Faberge egg) and then find your way out of the room within one hour. As a spoiler alert, we completed our task and escaped with 4 minutes to spare.
While I won’t go into details, because that would spoil the fun, it was clear that our team functions in a manner of which I couldn’t be more proud, and that I have confidence carries over with them into every workplace challenge.
7 Things for a Functioning Team
This experience spotlighted the 7 things you need to have a finely-tuned, high-functioning team.
- A clearly articulated common goal. You need every single member of your team invested in and enthusiastic about your project. But they also need to understand the end goal and the bigger picture. In our challenge room, this was literally laid out for us; but if you are leading a team, you need to do the same.
- An overall strategic plan. As soon as we got in the room, one of our team members announced that when we hit 30 minutes, we would use our first “lifeline.” (We had a walkie-talkie where you could ask for hints.) We all agreed and that person temporarily became the project leader. She spoke up definitively with a strategic plan that made sense and didn’t wait for me or anyone else to take charge.
- Empowered team members ready to take leadership as needed. Throughout any project or challenge, whether it’s growing a company, or trying to find an object in a challenge room, different skills are required at different times. Some team members may excel at deciphering riddles, while others are better at running calculations in their head. Our team seamlessly passed the leadership torch from person to person as we moved through the challenge.
- No weak links. With the right team you can divide and conquer and never have to second-guess anyone or spend time micromanaging. At the start of our challenge, we quickly divided up the room and thoroughly searched our areas. With no weak links, no one was second-guessing anyone else. We may have doubled back over someone’s territory, but only to approach it from a different angle. Because we trusted everyone to handle their part of the challenge, morale stayed high and no one wasted valuable time and energy.
- Time management skills. With a literal clock ticking down in a challenge room, there is no time to waste and everyone has to be conscious of the deadline. On any project, wasted employee or management time is unproductive and costly to the entire organization. Team members who can’t manage their time wisely become weak links.
- No fear of asking for help. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness; it’s a function of time management and understanding that others might have different talents and experiences. It’s also a sign that I should remember my reading glasses so I don’t have to yell for help whenever I couldn’t read the numbers on some of the locks.
- A sense of humor. People like to work with fun people. In today’s corporate environments, there is constant pressure. A team that laughs together, bonds together. I can assure you that our challenge room team will be laughing about inside jokes from that challenge room task for years to come.
About Diane Danielson – Diane is the Chief Operating Officer of Sperry Van Ness and oversees operations and brand development. She is an experienced attorney, speaker, author and social media expert. More recently, she has served as a consultant for companies, helping them with various growth strategies. Click here to view her full profile, or to contact her, you can email her at [email protected] You can also follow her on Twitter at @DianeDanielson.