to Lauren Maher, our Solutions From The Trenches Contest Winner.
FROM LAUREN MAHER AT ROCKEFELLER FOUNDATION NYC I work at a foundation in New York City- my colleagues are great- dedicated, smart, hard working. The work is demanding yet rewarding and the pay is non-profit. Hours are long and many employees are stressed and over-worked.
We'd been going through a year-long restructuring, with new senior management, new roles, responsibilities, a lot of uncertainty, etc. This restructuring has taken its toll on morale and added to the already heavy workload.
During the Summer of 1999, I looked around at the stressed-out faces and had an idea to brighten them with my true passion. Sailing. One of the benefits that the foundation offers is tuition reimbursement, but not enough people take advantage of that. I teach sailing on the weekends and decided to inquire if a sailing course would qualify. I got a positive response from Human Resources; they felt it would help with team-building and morale. People at the foundation were needing a morale boost and meanwhile, there was a lot of talk about the need for team-building exercises. So, along with another colleague, I organized colleagues at the foundation to take 'team-building sailing lessons' which would be paid for by the foundation as well as justifiable as a team-building exercise.
This idea was so successful that we had more teams take the lessons this summer and fall. So far about 16 colleagues have taken my course together, learned a new skill that requires cooperation and communication, grown as a team, and some have even taken up sailing as a hobby. This activity certainly helped boost morale and team spirit, which makes for a more productive and more pleasant workplace. It's also pushed the boundaries on the thinking of team-building and experiential learning and training, which sets a precedence for similar exercises and training.
Testimonials: From KP, a colleague who participated in the team-building sailing program: "At the start of day 2 of our sailing lessons, we were informed that due to a motor boat race on the Hudson River, we were stuck out on the water for six hours until the boats cleared. The thought of spending six hours straight in a 24-foot boat with four colleaguesfrom work, on a windless day, was at first, not so appealing. As the day progressed, however, the wind picked up and my colleagues began recounting stories about their travels,interests outside of work, and friends/families. The time flew by and before I knew it, it was time to lower the sails and head into the harbor. By the end of the day, I felt that though we had focused our energies on learning to sail, in the process, I had gotten to know four people from work better in an environment that was neither forced nor superficial. I had a great time, brought some new friendships back to the workplace, feel more positive and productive while at work, and hope that we can all sail again next spring."
Solution of the
By Dean Adams and Joe Rubin