One of the most important gifts I think I can share with my children and the robotics teams I work with is the joy of working on a well functioning team. I have had the pleasure of working in some very productive groups over the years and know first hand how positive an experience it can be. I strive to share some of the tools these groups have used to achieve their success. Some people aren’t as eager as other to embrace these tried and true tips, which is sometimes frustrating, but I don’t let that deter me from doing my best to help them see the benefits.
Working together isn’t always easy. It sometimes involves putting aside your own ego and doing what is best for the team. Focusing on what you have in common instead of how you differ is often a big part of a team’s success. My younger robotics teams use their team cheer to come together and celebrate when they overcome a challenge. It’s fun, breaks up the mood a bit, and brings them all together.
With my robotics teams I also utilize fun teamwork challenges, which the kids often refer to as “Waffles Challenges”. They serve to get the kids thinking, help switch up the atmosphere a bit and give us a concrete experience which I can use to relate back to as an example to help instill new teamwork skills.
There are lots of great resources on the Internet to help you come up with team building exercises. I like to switch things up a lot sprinkling in a variety of activities that focus on different areas of teamwork. Sometime we do physical drama type activities, as the kids seem to really enjoy them and it gets them moving. Other times they need something that is just going to help them blow off some energy, so we do a relay race or some such thing. Other times it is about communication and other times it’s more about reaching consensus, time management, etc. When my energy is really low I give the kids a doughnut challenge. It’s one of their favourites. There challenge is to find the box of doughnuts I have in the kitchen and figure out how they are going to share them. It’s easy, they get excited, and I benefit from a quick burst of energy from the sugar 🙂