Teamwork: Using The Canadian Women’s Olympic Hockey Team As Inspiration

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Even if the Canadian women’s olympic hockey team had not won the gold in Sochi, (I am happy they did), they exemplify what great team work is supposed to be like.

I heard a great and inspiring story about them that many people probably do not know. Before the Canadian women’s olympic hockey team went to Sochi they ordered and had made special gold necklaces that each team member wore throughout the games. The necklaces were gold and puzzle piece shaped. Every four pieces joined together to make a square. On each necklace was written:

“Unity in Adversity”

The women worked as a team and realized that they were each a piece of a greater whole.

That is how everyone in the workplace should see themselves….that they each form a piece of a greater whole and that each person is contributing to the overall success of the company. We are stronger, more innovative, and creative, and can accomplish more as a team than we can individually.

The Canadian women’s olympic hockey team exemplified this. They lifted each other up, and supported and encouraged one another.

We too can do this in the workplace.

How can you create a more unified team at work?

Here are 5 suggestions to help improve team morale and cohesion:

1) Do something together as a team outside of work. The key here is that it should be something that makes everyone feel included but not forced. Share a meal together or even watch a hockey game on TV together. In our office we ALL watched the Canadian women’s hockey team win the gold…even the boss. We had fun cheering and celebrating their win together.

2) Cross mentoring. It helps employees understand one another’s roles and learn from one another. Everyone has something to teach and everyone has something to learn. It also helps to build cross departmental cooperation.

3) Volunteer as a team. Schedule an afternoon where you go as a team and volunteer in a homeless shelter, hospital or wherever it is most needed. Not only are you doing something beneficial for your community, you will all feel good afterwards as well.

4) Have an employee book club. It would be great if the company could purchase the books. There are often discounts offered for volume purchases – all you have to do is ask. Employees can meet regularly to discuss the book. It is even more beneficial if all employees take turns leading the book club meeting.

5) Create a workspace that fosters collaboration. Team meetings usually take place in a boardroom that comes across as stifling and formal. Try and make the atmosphere more relaxed and inviting to discussions. Have whiteboards or flipcharts (plus plenty of markers that work), to write down everyone’s ideas and discuss them all. Have snacks or coffee on hand. And if you can, replace the standard rectangular table with a round one. Round tables create more of a conversational atmosphere as there are no ‘sides’ and no head of the table.

I would love to hear other team building suggestions that you have. What has worked for you?

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4 comments

  1. I was cheering for a different team, but I couldn’t agree more with the principles mentioned here. As you mention, it’s about lifting up, supporting, and encouraging one another. With these qualities, this team totally deserves the success they’ve earned.

    • Chantal Bechervaise – Outaouais Region - Canada – I blog about everything surrounding the world of work and how it intersects with personal life. Topics include: HR, Leadership, Social Media, Technology, Work-Life Balance, Employee Engagement, Workplace Culture and Achieving Success and Happiness. It is all about your own personal balance and what is appropriate for you. I also love the outdoors and reconnecting with nature.
      Chantal Bechervaise says:

      Thank you Joe! All teams should support one another and help lift each other up. It creates an environment of trust and collaboration.

  2. allipolin – Australia – Founder & CEO of Break the Frame, LLC I am an Executive Coach, Leadership Consultant, Trainer, Team Builder, and Speaker from Northern Virginia currently living in the Australian Outback.
    Alli Polin says:

    I love the idea of an employee book club! I’ve worked for a few orgs where we did that successfully. What makes it a really great idea is that you don’t need to be co-located to have a really robust discussion and debate about a book. Virtual teams still could benefit from everything you wrote here (with some small adjustments of course!)

    Great post, Chantal!

    • Chantal Bechervaise – Outaouais Region - Canada – I blog about everything surrounding the world of work and how it intersects with personal life. Topics include: HR, Leadership, Social Media, Technology, Work-Life Balance, Employee Engagement, Workplace Culture and Achieving Success and Happiness. It is all about your own personal balance and what is appropriate for you. I also love the outdoors and reconnecting with nature.
      Chantal Bechervaise says:

      Thank you Alli for you comment! Yes, it is also important for virtual teams to build trust and great working relationships too.
      A virtual book club is a great idea!

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