Some days my business feels like a dream job. Things are flowing, I’m in my creative zone and my clients are happy.

Today was one of those days. I received an email from a former client. She wanted to tell me how much our project from two years ago meant to her and her team.  As they prepare to bring the team back together and integrate staff who were hired during the pandemic it has become especially relevant.

This client had a strong, committed team, but a lot of recent hires. People didn’t know one another. They wanted a team building exercise that would help the group connect with one another and also develop a common vision of the organization.

“For our team’s professional development retreat, we invited Meryl Cook to facilitate a team building workshop. Meryl’s facilitation skills and natural presence helped to create a safe space for everyone to step outside of their comfort zone. The unique structure and delivery of the workshop kept staff engaged while the subtleness of the exercises culminated into a very reflective transformative experience.” 

Remembering what brought them together in the first place

“Unlike traditional workshops, staff were assigned a team building exercise to carry out over weeks back at the office: bring to life the vision our team developed during the retreat. That vision being the culmination of who we are as individuals, where we fit into the larger organization and how we see ourselves interacting with one another as a team.”

Curiosity, imagination, and stepping out of autopilot

Learning a new skill levels the playing field. It gets people out of their usual way of doing things, and gives insight into “how individual personalities and perspectives strengthen the team”. The project was readily embraced by this diverse group of engineers and scientists. In fact, several of the younger staff came in to work early to hook together, and others scheduled meetings around the frame as they hooked.

Author and facilitator Meryl Cook reads from her book, with two photos next to her of participants in her hands-on workshop

“A dedicated quiet space was created in our office to allow a small number of staff to work on the project at a time. What may have appeared as arts and craft time for a group of scientists and engineers continued to facilitate team building and strengthening of relationships between co-workers. Moreover, staff found that it provided a calm and quiet space where they could decompress following particularly stressful situation, step away from a complex issue or even work through some work challenges with colleague they wouldn’t typically work with”. 

By offering beautiful, well cared for and selected materials and teaching a new skill, team members were able to transfer these materials with their hands into something beautiful and meaningful.

“In the end, the team produced something unique, beautiful and more importantly something reflective of each individual. The final piece is hung in a prominent space in our office lending itself as a conversation piece which enables staff to reflect on the experience and remind them of the team vision and culture each time they talk about it. For new staff, it not only sets a tone for our team’s culture but also shows how individual personalities and perspectives strengthen the team.”

Krysta Montreuil, Drinking Water Analyst, Sustainability & Applied Science Division, Nova Scotia Environment & Climate Change

The installation of this team building project has served as a permanent reminder of the process, setting the tone for ongoing staff development and team morale.

Client team building results, hand-hooked wallhanging, individual hooked pieces mounted on wooden blocks and a framed vision statement and description of the process
Client team building results, hand-hooked wallhanging, individual hooked pieces mounted on wooden blocks and a framed vision statement and description of the process

Receiving this testimonial of a project I delivered 2 years ago was very confirming. As we get back to in person events, I can’t wait to start doing more of these hands-on team building projects.

Postscript:

I’m currently in conversation with the director of this department to plan a team building project to review the vision and help the staff hired during the pandemic and those returning to work in the office to connect/reconnect.  

How can I help?

Do you need help supporting your team during this post-pandemic transition? At Meryl Cook Engagement by Design I work with teams to raise engagement, relieve anxiety and get out ahead of transitions. Bringing people together to create something lasting and meaningful, while building new skill sets, is at the centre of my process. Connection, purpose and empowerment are outcomes you can expect for your team. Let’s book a short discovery call to discuss how to best support your team.

If you are looking for writing prompts and other resources to connect with your creative self, take a look at my two booksReach out to me if you’d like some help designing a wallhanging that is a reflection of what you need right now.