At Merkle RMG, teamwork and cohesion are vital to making our processes seamless and efficient. Our company is all about strong relationships at every level — not only with our clients and their donors, but also among employees. As a manager in fulfillment and acknowledgement, I’ve found that engaging department staff in quarterly team-building exercises is a great way to strengthen our day-to-day relationships and productivity.
In my department, I saw a chance to build a stronger team mentality and create more interaction among employees in siloed roles. I was an operations manager before joining Merkle RMG, and I led team-building activities that always delivered positive results. I thought those same lessons could really benefit us in the production world as well.
How it Works
Every three months, employees from the fulfillment and acknowledgement, shipping and receiving, and storage departments gather for a 10- to 20-minute activity. We form five teams and conduct a timed challenge that requires group members to work together towards a shared goal.
In one exercise, teams competed to build the tallest structure out of marshmallows and raw spaghetti. It was not as easy as everyone expected and supplies were limited, so it taught everyone a valuable lesson about using resources efficiently and not assuming every task is as easy as it looks. It also really got them thinking about streamlining and innovation.
Another time— in what we call the “minefield” challenge— we taped a large square on the floor and set down plastic cups throughout. Coordinators were blindfolded, and each of their teams had to verbally direct them as they walked from one side of the square to the other, without going outside the lines or touching any of the cups. Since coordinators normally give direction all day, this taught them to listen to—and trust—their team members. Additionally, team members learned how to give constructive feedback.
All activities are designed to teach problem-solving, build trust, foster communication, and encourage sharing of ideas. They challenge employees to think strategically, and they give everyone a chance to learn each other’s unique communication styles and thought processes. Employees learn to negotiate, set clear goals, and explore multiple approaches to solving a problem. And, everyone has the opportunity to contribute to a common goal in their own way. After each exercise, we talk about what we learned from the experience and how we can apply those insights to our work.
As a result, production rates are notably higher the day after a team-building event, and there’s been a boost in overall productivity and quality of work since the program began last year. Here’s some of the positive feedback we’ve received from fulfillment and acknowledgement employees:
“It’s a fun way to bond with our co-workers and use our creative-thinking skills!” – Kathy Strassberger
“They seem to make us a stronger team as a whole, not just within our separate departments.” – Brandy Ewing
“[It’s a] good way to bring coworkers together. Other departments should do this, too. It really boosts our morale.” – James Swank
Subsequently, other departments have started to follow suit. Here’s what some members of Merkle RMG’s imaging department shared about their own team-building experience:
“It was extremely enjoyable. Working together towards a goal is a lot easier than trying to figure it out alone.” – Joshua Rogers
“It made us much closer as a team. “– Brandy Burke
“It gave us an opportunity to be creative…and to get to know each other better.” – Elizabeth Jamison
Cohesion Resonates With Clients
Although team-building focuses on employees, I was thrilled to hear that it positively impacted one of our client relationships as well. During a recent facility tour, a client observed a group activity in progress and asked to learn more. They told their Merkle RMG account manager that they were impressed by Merkle RMG’s dedication to teamwork and communication. As a result, they may be starting a similar initiative at their own offices!
Innovating from Within
I’m grateful that Merkle RMG empowers its staff to create ways to collaborate, share ideas and solve problems. We each have a hand in improving the processes and policies that make Merkle RMG successful. It’s a great example of how our company culture promotes professional development, employee engagement, and innovation from within.
Does your organization have a team-building initiative? If so, what types of activities have been most effective for you? Share them with us in the comments.