Welcome back to the TreeRunner West Bloomfield Adventure Park blog! We join you in the midst of a two-part series that concerns the team-building benefits of ropes courses and outdoor activities, as the title of this blog no doubt already gave away.
As a refresher, in part one we addressed the rationale behind incorporating team-building activities into a strategy for growth in any kind of team. Whether you are a manager looking for a way to develop a bond between your retail staff or you are a youth pastor trying to do the same thing with your leadership team, our “takeaway” point in part one was this: because building trust and unity takes time when done organically, team leaders need to accelerate the process.
This acceleration can be done through a variety of “team-building activities,” but we’d argue that a context where your team members are emotionally present, physically challenged, and reliant on one another is ideal. Those are the ingredients that help people break the ice and really reveal themselves to each other — largely since they have no other choice if you they want to accomplish the task at hand!
At TreeRunner West Bloomfield Adventure Park, we’ve witnessed first-hand that team building in the trees is an effective, challenging, safe, fun, and unique experience. We can adapt to the individual needs of your group, and we even have a special form we request you fill out so we can better understand the specific needs of your group!
The Ropes Course: A Hidden Gem In Trust-Building
For the majority of the remainder of today’s blog, we’ll be discussing how particularly effective taking your nascent team to a ropes course can be in terms of trust-building. It’s a concept that originates over 100 years ago, with one Georges Hébert, a French Naval commander who saw the plain benefits in the partnerships that were built.
A Modern Testimonial
A more modern testimony can be found in Lee Esmond’s words, the vice president of integrated marketing at Mosaic. After her experience on a ropes course, she noted, “It was a serious trust initiative where you had to figure out different ways to communicate nonverbally,” said Esmond. “At one point I slipped and hurt my wrist,” the VP stated. “Throughout the rest of the exercise my partner figured out how to augment that weakness.” Later, Esmond continued, “As a leader, that moment showed me how I can look at my team member’s strengths and weaknesses and then build partnerships accordingly,” she concluded.
“Enough Rope To Get Rope Burn”
Esmond’s words of wisdom didn’t stop there, either. She observed that the vast majority of her team members, who are in this case employees, are of the millennial ilk. She realized that their learning style varied from what she was used to in the sense that they would prefer experiential learning over being expressly told what to do and how to do it. Esmond’s objective became giving them enough rope ”to get rope burn, but not hang themselves.” her team members need to feel supported, yet independent; challenged yet empowered to fail on the journey toward success.
The trouble is, just like most organizations lack the time to let intimacy and trust grow organically (this can take years in certain professional settings), most organizations can’t afford to let their employees learn on the fly. Like Esmond observed, experiential learning might be the preferred method for young professionals, but that doesn’t make “trial by fire” a sustainable approach.
So does that leave us back where we started — in need of more time for genuine bonds to form? Luckily, no.
Let’s jump back to Georges Hébert. Remember him, the French naval officer from the early 20th century? He’s the one who saw a deeper value in ropes courses in the first place. Through this medium of physical education, he developed a way to grow physically, morally, and socially.
Georges Hébert was right — perhaps more than he knew. A thorough body of research exists to support that claim as well. For example, the Journal of Unconventional Parks, Tourism, and Recreation Research concluded that “Data support[s] the notion that participation in a four-hour challenge course significantly increases the participants’ levels of leadership and work efficacy” and that “results were significant” and “long-lasting.”
Hence, we aren’t back where we started at all! Scientific studies show that participants showcase improved leadership and work efficacy. That the results were significant and long-lasting should be music to managers’ ears. For more specific information on the research administered regarding challenge course effectiveness, check out the original study by Theresa Odello, Eddy Hill, and Edwin Gomez.
Now, the conundrum of making your employees feel empowered, challenged, supported, and independent — all at the same time — won’t be solved once and for all in any single afternoon. But it’s certainly worthwhile to know that a great place to start is at an aerial adventure park with a ropes course, among other obstacles!
Why Do They Work?
To review: We’ve established the need to accelerate the process of developing a team spirit, leaders, and general efficacy. These things take time. We’ve discussed how millennials in the workplace tend to be unique, and should therefore be adjusted to, so long as it doesn’t sacrifice the quality of the team’s performance in the process. Finally, we’ve looked at scientific research pointing to how team-building exercise on a challenge course is shown to improve workplace efficacy and leadership in a significant and long-term way.
All that’s left is the why.
The why is what we will be discussing in this three-part series. As it turns out, we’ve got plenty to say on the idea of team-building activities and what exactly can be accomplished through them. In our next post, we’ll take a look at “the why,” in addition to why our experience matters at TreeRunner West Bloomfield Adventure Park.
As always, we encourage you to keep an eye out for our next post, in which we will put a lovely blow on this topic! Be sure to reach out to us in the meantime if you have any questions, and don’t hesitate to book your time at our aerial adventure park if you are ready! We’d love to host you and your team.