Create a Memory and Visit It Often
For a moment, think about one of the greatest team experiences you have ever been a part of… I am willing to bet a memory of a unique event that you did with that team or person comes to mind. People come closer through unique shared experiences. This is why quality leaders make memories!
How to Create a Memory
You may say that’s great Shawn, but I work in a stiff office environment or project site with tight regulations or I don’t have the budget to create a memory. All it takes to create a lasting memory for a team is a little initiative, creativity, and perhaps help from Google Search. A key is to make time for the event to happen, plan for it.
There is no reason you should be leading in what one client described to me as a “stale” work environment. Your memory doesn’t have to be elaborate, take a lot of planning and cost a lot. In actual fact, some of the cheapest and most spontaneous events are the most memorable. In fact, most of the equipment I use during workshops and retreats comes from the dollar store.
When leading expeditions, my clients expected to be pushed physically, experience harsh weather, and go without many of the comforts of home. What they didn’t expect is to have a “formal” prom one evening with homemade tuxedos and dresses at a camp on the side of a mountain deep into the Alaska backcountry or a remote coastline in Australia.
Sometimes, I would pump up the event with a few details for a couple of days to build anticipation. Other times, I would only give an hours’ notice. You can imagine the fun we had, coming up with our “formal” costumes from only the things we carried or found in the environment around us. This is often the time I would break out the wig or the Caribbean shirt I had been carrying.
I have mentioned in a previous blog the time I worked in a traditional office environment (yes, I have done my time in a cubical) where we had a Royal Wedding party. We all came to work an hour early and dressed in our finest clothes to watch the live broadcast of the Royal Wedding. We had English snacks and tea and generally had a good time for a few hours as we watched the wedding.
Was I particularly interested in watching the Royal Wedding? No. What I did appreciate was the shared experience out of the everyday norm. A friend mentioned that every year around Thanksgiving, the office would take a couple hours to do Turkey bowling in the longest office hallway. The CEO was the first one to go. When was the last time you had a paper airplane-flying contest? The memory making possibilities are truly endless!
Visit the Memory
Anything you do today will most likely be forgotten about in a few weeks. Memorable moments are compounded when you share them. The benefit of a memory making experience can last for years with the original event often becoming more than it was as details fade and the feelings grow. If applicable, make mementos of the event that reminds people of the shared experience. It’s the reason theme parks take a photo of you on a rollercoaster and try to sell it to you at the end.
Take the Road Trip
I always tell the students I work with that when you look back at your time in university or college, you will remember few details from any class you have ever taken but you will remember every road trip!
Chief Memory Maker
As a leader, you are the Chief Memory Maker for your team. It could be your office team, your family or a volunteer group. Take the initiative and plan a memory-making experience: it will bring your team closer and in turn boost your performance.
What is a fond memory you have had from an out of the norm experience with a team? Share the details in the comments below.