Like a A Tower Built on Sand: Team Building Activities with King Richard Corporation

We rode a motorcycle from Fuente OsmeƱa Circle in Cebu City to Bluewater Maribago Resort in Mactan to meet our client: King Richard Shop Systems Inc.

King Richard Shop Systems is a company that provides refrigeration services for large-scale businesses that sell perishable goods. Like supermarkets and grocery chains. Which ones? Everyone. Now, while they’re a really cool company (no pun intended), the people who labor in engineering and operating these giant refrigerators are humble wage earners, average individuals who struggle through the demands of daily life.

I facilitated this seminar together with team development consultant and CTFN Marketing Manager Lorenzo Jose Cahig. Most of the time, Lorenzo and I would strain to address our subjects in the Cebuano language, despite living all our lives in Cebu-- the struggles of ‘90s kids raised by Cartoon Network and MTV. Ha-ha! And I did mention that our participants were working class people right? So what does that mean? It means, they only speak mostly in the vernacular.

Fortunately, as facilitators of Cebu Teambuilding Facilitators Network, we went through intensive training in public speaking and were exposed to countless experiences handling seminars for diverse cultures and who spoke different languages. In fact, we boast of facilitators who speak several dialects such as Hiligaynon and Waray. We are exceptional in commanding Cebuano and Tagalog any time we are called to do so. So much for our challenges as facilitators. Now, let’s talk about the team building activities we did with King Richard.

We introduced ourselves with Lorenzo warming the participants up with an exercise: Tai-Chi Basics, an incredibly energizing icebreaker. After which, we leveled off expectations by passing colorful balls among them; whoever catches the ball gives out his or her expectations. In portion, we gathered that King Richard had more training needs than we were actually informed about when designing the modules for their program weeks before. When this happens, the facilitator will have to revise the program and adjust according to the identified need. Any true facilitator, committed to implementing only the optimal training program for his clients, had done this act countless times and will continue to do it whenever there’s a need.

Teambuilding Proper

Now, for the team building proper, we challenged the participants with the Helium Ring. If you followed our previous articles, you’d know how this activity works. But for those who are not savvy, this activity involves hula hoops, and the challenge is to bring the material down to ground level using only index fingers in an outward pointing position. The catch is if any finger detaches from the hoop at any given circumstance, they must restart to the first level. A task that is almost improbable unless they cheat or someone stands up as a leader and effectively commands the team to move as a single, unified organism. Is this activity fun? Absolutely delightful. But is it also difficult and stressful? Very. But then why did we deem it optimal to be at the first roll? Simply because we aim to reveal the nature of their team dynamics and help the participants gain awareness of their teams’ level of cooperation and coordination (or lack thereof).

King Richard Shop Systems Team Building in Lapulapu City Mactan Island Cebu Philippines 2016
King Richard Shop Systems employees do the helium ring

Was it successful? Well, it did drive all the participants, even the boys who seemed brutish and unruly during the GTKY activity to simmer down on their tomfooleries and took the debriefing seriously. Now, the debriefing, of course! I won’t go into detail, but I was gladly surprised by the insights the team had put out in the discussion. Issues were cast into daylight and plausible solutions were immediately rolled in like dice. Indeed, there was what’s sounds like a concurrence! I was so tempted to wrap it all up and end the training there while their teamwork juices flowed, pack our props and go home; but I know that there were still more things that we could do with this team. So we stayed, of course, and besides we were contracted to do the training for one full day..

Kidding aside, when you have participants that are committed to enhancing their team and really determined to see through the challenges and to acquire all those learning, the rest of the day would just glide. After the Helium Ring, we did the Minefield. In this activity, the participants are given a scenario where they’re all survivors of war and who got blind except one colleague. The only way to go home and be safe is through a minefield. This one colleague who kept his eyesight guides the whole team through the field without any of them touching the mines scattered around. We used to do this with colorful toys like Lego blocks that also hurt really bad when stepped on. Just kidding! This is a perfectly safe activity; in fact, for King Richard, we used the resort’s bean bags as mines.

King Richard Shop Systems Team Building in Lapulapu City Mactan Island Cebu Philippines 2016
King Richard employees do the Minefield

After the Minefield was, of course, the relentless mind game Warp Speed. You all know this activity. It’s the one where they rotate the ball among every member of the team and doing so in the shortest time possible. This provides them an avenue to create strategies, do problem solving, and display creativity. This also demonstrates the simple yet profound truth that “just ‘cos it’s the known and accepted way of doing things, it does not follow that it’s the only way--or even the best way.” An insightful activity that uses only a single ping-pong ball.

Debriefing these experiences were one of tremendous pleasure. Since everyone was engaged, the group automatically induced a focused and fast-paced discussion and met my questions with fierce, spontaneous responses.

Then it came to finally close the team building program. Before the wrap up, Lorenzo and I did a climactic activity to to end it beautifully: The Sand Art. In this activity, the participants spent some time at the beach, right along the calm waves that rolled gently toward the milky-white shore. It was almost musical watching them adjacent to the setting sun and seeing a single team unified by their collective vigor and passion for the company and for each other. Seeing not, coworkers laboring, but a family supporting each other. Carving their masterpiece in the sand. Everyone helped. Everyone contributed. It took an hour. So beautiful. We took pictures.

King Richard Shop Systems Team Building in Lapulapu City Mactan Island Cebu Philippines 2016
King Richard Shop Systems sand art

In the end, what matters is they understood how fragile and collapsible a company can be if it was attacked from the inside---like a tower built on sand.

Note: This article is written by CTFN team development consultant Nathaniel John Arong who was the main facilitator for the King Richard Shop Systems team building event.

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