More often than not, a stronger bond comes from taking the team to a new setting with different challenges--outside the office. We asked members of the Entrepreneurs' Organization's (EO) Boston and Nashville chapters to share what methods they've used to strengthen their teams outside of the office. Here's what they said:
"The one thing that has brought us the closest is the amount of volunteering we do together. We volunteered to paint a school that did not have the money to clean it up, hosted an event to raise money and have donated countless hours to help people in all different areas. Volunteering in the community as a company has not only made us a better company, it has made us a family."
Michael Moran, EO Boston
Managing Director, CFG Brokerage Network
"Once a month, we take a half day away from the office to volunteer with a non-profit organization and work as a team to accomplish whatever they need help with. It's a great way for us to spend time away from work, doing something that matters as a team."
Paul Jankowski, EO Nashville
Founder and Chief Brand Strategist, New Heartland Group
"We find that volunteering for local charities is a great team bonding experience, and we're helping folks in need! Most recently, we put our cooking skills to good use for a day of baking apple pies for the local soup kitchen."
Patty Sins, EO Boston
President and Founder, On the Avenue Marketing
"We take the strength of our company's culture quite literally. We have a fully functional CrossFit-style gym set up in our warehouse where each of our team members are encouraged not only to get healthier, but to develop trust and encourage each other. Daily, you can find members of our warehouse/field staff working out alongside our sales staff and accountants. Even my partners and I are involved. Not only has it improved individual health, but it has also improved the health of our organization as a whole."
JT Terrell, EO Nashville
Founding Partner/CMO/Culture Architect, Music City Tents and Events
"Every year, we do a three-day annual awards cruise to the Bahamas. All of my senior leadership team is invited, as well as all employees who hit their performance targets for the year. We have a formal awards banquet before one of our dinners to recognize all of the year's top performers and also lay out the company's vision for the upcoming year. The cruise has become part of the fiber of our culture and has done wonders toward the goals of getting everyone pumped up for the year. Plus, it costs less than people might think!"
Eric Crews, EO Boston
President and Founder, Collegiate Entrepreneurs Painting Services, Inc.
"As we grew to about 40 employees, we formed an executive team and after a lot of experimenting, we settled into a routine of meeting quarterly, in person, for a three-day retreat in some remote location for heavy business analysis and planning. Sometimes the location was a big city; other times it was in the mountains or at the beach. We all came prepared and ready to discuss our ideas, but it was important for us to include a lot of 'non-work' activities to strengthen our relationship beyond the office. Once a year, we would replicate this retreat for the entire company, as well."
Dave Will, EO Boston
Chief Executive Peach, Peach New Media
Invest in Employees
"We strengthen our team by 'growing' our employees. We gave out $10,000 last year so that employees could complete their dream. One took their family to Disney World. Another learned to make beeswax candles. Another received money to propose on a hot air balloon. And another got to pay off her student loans so she could officially be the first in her family to graduate college. It's incredible to take an employee aside and say, 'Hey, I'm going to make your dream come true!'"
Bob Bernstein, EO Nashville
Owner, Bongo Productions
"All new team members fly to our headquarters to learn about our core values, begin training and go indoor skydiving. There's nothing like getting out of your comfort zone and experiencing flight with your new team. It's an experience that can be shared between all of us, from interns to VPs!"
Casey Cheshire, EO Boston
Chief Awesome Officer, Cheshire Impact
"We firmly believe in working hard to ensure our team is connected, at and outside of work. We encourage team members to plan off-site activities like trivia nights, corn mazes and volunteer work. Not only does our team participate in fun evening and weekend events outside of the office, but we also hold monthly team meetings where we eat, chat, update each other on what's going on and catch up on how things are going. Open communication is key for us - everyone truly cares about everyone here."
Ginger Jones, EO Nashville
Founder and CEO, Jones Therapy Services, LLC