By Joyce Weiss
I recently went on a three-week group tour to Australia and New Zealand. Besides feeding kangaroos, snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, learning about the indigenous Australian Aboriginals and New Zealand’s Maori culture, I was amazed at how the 16 strangers in our tour melded into a well-oiled team on the first day of the trip. Even our tour guide told us that he never led a group of people that traveled so well together.
We didn’t sit down with each other to discuss the rules of a successful team. Rather, we were fortunate to not have any bullies, talkaholics, complainers, braggarts—the types of team members who can really ruin a trip. Below are five lessons I took away from my group tour that can be applied to building a strong team in your business:
Lesson 1: No Complaining
Our group received wake-up calls at 4:30 a.m. No one complained. We joked about needing a gallon of coffee, but we all understood that we needed to get an early start on the many experiences planned for us—such as meeting Aborigines, seeing the sunrise at Uluru Rock, and beating the crowds on a scenic tour through the fjords in New Zealand.
Lesson 2: The Importance of Laughing
The laughter started immediately at the airport when some of us met each other for the first time. I was stretching my legs after the 14-plus-hour flight. Someone said, “Let’s call Joyce ‘Stretch’ since she likes to be limber.” Everyone started to laugh, including me, and that’s how we got to know each other. Sarcasm was not part of the group. We all liked to laugh at ourselves, which took down barriers immediately.
Lesson 3: Show Interest in Others
I looked forward to our meals together because everyone was interested in finding out about each other. We discussed our jobs, families, and hobbies. It was fascinating for me to watch the magic happening. We took turns talking, didn’t interrupt, and listened to what others had to say.
Lesson 4: Support Each Other
We shared medical supplies and advice when team members got injured or sick. One of the travelers received sad news about a relative at home. We all helped her by listening and offering our phones so she could speak with her family. We didn’t have to think twice about this. We were there for her.
Lesson 5: Trust Your Leader
Our tour guide, Warren, knew how to control our vivacious and strong team. There were times that we wanted to do something different from the planned tour, so he listened to us and made any changes that he could—since he had to answer to his boss as well. Warren had a sense of humor that was contagious. We started to answer each other’s questions as though we were Warren! That’s quite a leader.
For our particular team, the stars were lined up, the personalities meshed, and we worked well together. Of course, we all experience groups who sometimes can’t get along. This is when we can learn from naturally cohesive teams like ours and apply their attributes to teams in the workplace.
Joyce Weiss, M.A., CSP, is a corporate communication strategist and coach. For the past 30 years, she has perfected patented strategies that have addressed peer bullying, standing out to upper management, career advancement, and resolving conflict. Weiss has been a frequent speaker at ABA’s Annual Meeting & Marketplace and she recently launched an online coaching program: Communication Skills at Work. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.