The Keys to Succeeding at Team Goals

Hey, have you ever had fun learning? Not always, right? True. Learning is not always fun, but if you are a part of our team, it is F-U-N. So much that we learn something new every week. We call it Continuous Learning. Not because it happens every week as one of those courses that a lot of people attend. We call it so because the motto is to keep on learning and never stop doing so.

Our sessions are not always about work. The lessons come from various backgrounds. Every week we have taken on the task of enriching ourselves with knowledge in different fields. This learning helps us stand apart not just at work but in life as well.

This week it was Sakshi’s turn to lead the session. Our continuous learning session is usually an activity. The person leading the game makes us take part in the activity. Sometimes there are winners in these activities, sometimes not, but for each one of us, there is always a take away from the activity. That is where we all win – together.

Sakshi decided to have two activities instead of the usual one. The first one was the game of “Bouncing Ball.” We quickly divided ourselves into two teams:

Team #1:Humza, Bhanu, Astha, Bhushan, Jahir, Shubham, Amit, and Pritam

Team #2:Rajlaxmi, Avinash, Vivek, Laxmi, Blessy, Monali, Prajakta, and Yogita

Yes, there were a few props that we used. A ball, a cup, and a table.

Each team had a go at the activity. Two team members would stand on either side of a table. One of them would hold the cup and the other would throw the ball. Wondering why it is named the bouncing ball? The ball has to be thrown in such a way that it has to bounce off the table for the other person to catch it. Strategies were discussed and implemented. Some of these strategies worked, some didn’t. There were mishaps on both sides, but eventually, Team #2 won the game.

Sakshi had a reason behind choosing this game. She wanted to see the teamwork behind the game and how confident the team members were about each other. She wanted to see the trust and confidence each person had in their team member when the team goal was the same.

The second one was the “Team Energizer Game.” Sakshi wanted to test everyone’s listening skills. Not just their listening skills, but their response as well. She deliberately omitted giving instructions about the response though she kept on giving instructions and the team had to do the opposite of what she asked. Though the activity involved passing or bouncing a ball and catching it, it was not easy. This time they made a circle and were passing on the ball.

Sakshi knew that people had a habit of listening and reacting to what was said in a hurry. She knew that it would cause issues and was very clever with choosing the instructions for the second activity. As the session wound up, she was quick to point out to everyone that all needed time to think before reacting.

Both activities were fun. They were wholesome activities – there was physical exercise or activity to some point, brainpower needed to be harnessed, and everybody had loads of fun. As the activity ended on an exuberant note, it was lights, camera, action to imbibing the learning from the day’s session.

One common factor that everyone spoke about first was the experience – the fun they had – both with the lesson and the learning.

Bhushan who is also the coordinator for our continuous learning session felt that the second activity was similar to the one that Jahir had taken some time back and it would be great if more innovative activities were brought in for the team. This meant that the preparation needs to be done at least a week in advance.

Amit who is relatively new to the team liked both the activities. For the first one, his lesson was that if there is no trust, there is no output. Regarding the second activity, he agreed with Sakshi that one has to take time and then execute.

Hamza absolutely loved the fun that came from both activities. His lesson from the second activity was that multitasking may not always be good and one must prioritize and segregate them for smooth completion. For the first activity, he felt that revisiting strategies to recalibrate is always good.

Shubham kept it short and sweet and said that understanding between two team members was important and for the second activity, quality matters more than the quantity.

For the first activity, Jahir said that coordination was the key and for the second good listening skills was important. He also enjoyed the activities a lot.

Pritam too felt that coordination is key and that we need to have some practice coordinating with our team members. For the second activity, he said that we should not rush into things. In fact, we should give things a thought before acting on it.

As with others, Bhanu also felt that coordination was the key. For the second activity, he said that the human brain is slow, but humans tend to think that it is fast. That is where all the misunderstanding happens and issues happen.

Astha said that at the start or at the initial stage there is always a struggle as people are pushed out of their comfort zone. For the second activity, patience and practice were the key learnings.

The soft-spoken Yogita said that brain processing is not as simple as it is. It is very tough to practice something opposite to what you are listening to and needs a lot of effort and makes you inefficient. She also described her experience with the bouncing the ball. She was at the receiving end first and realized quickly that the ball needed to be thrown in a specific way. So, when it was her chance to throw it, she was implemented her learning from her earlier experience with receiving the ball. She felt that a learning from the previous activity can be carried forward to the next one.

Lakshmi opined that comfort with the other person always matters in a team game such as the one they played today – that was the learning from the 1st activity. From the second one, she learned that doing the opposite of what was told is always difficult.

Vivek started off with how everyone had different interpretations of the activities.  In his view, the games were simplistic games. He said he was surprised how they went on to win as he hadn’t expected it. For his team, they had simplified the game. He had each of them throw the ball from a short distance and that too slowly so that the person catching the ball just has to move his hand and not run here and there. Maybe the distance helped them (he also gives the distance as a reason for losing the second game). For the first, he said that the team enjoyed the game. When there is a success, everyone enjoys it more. Where there is a failure, there is frustration. In bad times, it is difficult to keep a flock. In good times, even the worst enemies stay together. The lesson was that when anything comes our way, we need to see if we can simplify it. Look at our strengths and play up our strengths.

Vivek said that the second activity has real-life cases. Say Marketing – a lot of companies say one thing but their product is different. For e.g. AI driving hiring software. There may not be any AI. Or the case of our culture. Companies say one thing about the culture, but the behavior as a company is different. When that happens, it confuses people. He went on to say that this was why one of our principles is, “Say it, Do it. The 3rd example he gave us is the monthly suggestions for sessions. If the feedback is always great, it won’t work out. It is important to participate and provide suggestions for improvement.

Avinash thought that both activities had a formula. So when there are changes in the activity, in this case, the distance, the formula should also have been changed.

For Rajlaxmi, both activities were fun. The 1st activity was a combination of support and coordination and for the second, it was read, listen, understand and then implement.

Blessy’s lesson was how well do you coordinate with each other to achieve the team goal? For the second activity, it was how well you grasp thinks or how good are you listening skills?

Heena said that coordination was important in the first activity. She observed how Vivek told her to tilt the cup a little when she couldn’t catch the ball and motivated her by saying that she can do it. She felt that guidelines when things go wrong and motivation was as important as coordination. For the second activity, she too felt that one needs to have good listening skills.

Monali’s lesson was that once the goal is decided, one should focus on the other side to see how their team member is doing so that they can reach the goal faster.

Prajakta related the first activity with testing – no matter what the issue was, you needed to catch it as soon as possible. For the second one, she thought that the human brain does what we tell it and it cannot listen to two things at a time.

It was a great activity and the learnings too were different (especially, Vivek’s perspective). That is the very essence of our continuous learning session. Sharing the learnings often takes us to routes that are less traveled. Here is to newer routes and journeys in learning!

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