Team Building Tips for Success

Earlier I wrote about our experience with Corporate Champions Vancouver and how it’s helped us to become better teammates at work. Click to read We Are The Champions! A Teamwork Success Story.

I thought I’d share some more specific ideas about factors to consider when embarking on your own team challenges.

C-R-E-A-T-I-O-N-! The Outline.
C-R-E-A-T-I-O-N-! (Can you see it yet?)
C-R-E-A-T-I-O-N-!  Here We Are!
C-R-E-A-T-I-O-N-! Here We Are!

In The Beginning: Team Success Tips from Year 1

In our first year, we had decent participation, some good teambuilding, and some great times together. My recommendations for when you’re starting out are…

1. Practice, Practice, Practice!!

We should have practiced more as a team.

It wasn’t so much that we needed to have practiced more to win (although that’s true too), it’s more that additional practice would have brought us closer together, forming new bonds as teammates and enabling us to identify more as a unit.

2. Consider Lifestyle

We should have thought more carefully about the events we chose.

We were so excited to get going with the program that we didn’t really weigh all our options. It sounds obvious, but if one of your goals is participation, it’s so important to consider your people and the multiple facets of their lives outside work.

The way Corporate Champions is set up, there are opportunities to enter your company teams in a number of different sporting activities – basketball, soccer, volleyball, etc.

When we made our selections, we were thinking about participation in the sense that we tried to pick the sports that the majority of people would enjoy, and where as many people as possible could participate.

What we also should have considered are factors, like:

  • The venues available to us to practice each sport
  • The times of day the events would take place
  • The days of the week the events would take place

As we discovered, these ‘lifestyle’ factors have great impact on participation levels.

Examples of some important questions to ask yourselves as part of an organizing team:

  • How many of your people have kids?
  • Do they need to be picked up after school, and do they have weekend commitments that involve their parents?
Creation Sports
Creation BC Soccer, Table Tennis and Volleyball teams hard at work.

Rolling Right Along: Team Success Tips from Year 2

In our second year, more people signed up and we saw even better teambuilding, even amongst people who don’t usually work together. The additional people enrolled and the familiarity with the events added a level of comfort and engagement that made this possible. And we definitely had fun. All I really have to say about keeping things going is that you should…

1. Practice, Practice, Practice!See the tip from Year 1 above… We still needed to practice some more!

Coming Together: Team Success Tips from Year 3

It’s June 2012 and we’ve just wrapped up our third year…our most successful year so far.

The number of participants doubled from last year. For some newcomers, this was their first time participating in any Creation event!

Part of the kudos has to go to CCV for including new sports like badminton and table tennis in their selection, increasing the variety of interests represented. But we’d learned from our first two years. Here are the lessons we learned:

1. Encourage LeadershipThis year we established team captains for each of our different sports. Our captains took on the responsibility of scheduling practices and motivating their teams.

2. Be Accomodating

We tried as best we could to be considerate of people’s personal schedules, with some practices during business hours and some after. We were also proactive in helping people remember to coordinate activities – we sent out emails and put up posters detailing events and timetables.

Creation Corporate Champions
We Are Creation Technologies!

3. Unite Under One Banner!

There’s a reason that the team uniform and brand indentity figures prominently in sports psychology. It’s an important element in forming team cohesion.

We ordered team jerseys with our company logo.

We decided on a theme – to be the best we can be, while having fun!

As a team, it’s very powerful when you can rally behind one common goal, and know that your teammates will be there to support you.

What have been your best experiences competing together as part of a team? What did you learn, or how were you changed afterward?

We Are The Champions! A Teamwork Success Story

We Are The Champions
Champions at Last! The Creation—BC Ping Pong Team celebrating their victory

As a company Creation has always believed in the importance of both engagement and teamwork, and know that there’s a big connection between the two.

As part of the People & Culture team, I’m always looking for ways to get people to feel connected to Creation, to each other, to our performance results, and so on. We need to know, is our philosophy of “work hard, play hard” alive and vibrant?

A few years back, I got a call from Corporate Champions Vancouver. At the time, we were looking for creative ways to enhance our Wellness program in BC…and still are, by the way, if anyone has any good ideas!

They’re a company that, (from their website):

“…hosts sporting events and tournaments that focus on team building and employee engagement while providing opportunities to connect and network. Our mandate is to help organizations big and small benefit from the power of sport.”

Sounds great, right?

I really liked Corporate Champions’ mandate to get companies to realize how they can benefit from the power of sport – something that can often be overlooked in a corporate setting. This program looked like it could fulfill our needs on a number of levels – health and wellness, engagement and teamwork.

Another big draw was that I got the call shortly after the exhilarating Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Like so many people, I’d been inspired by watching the athletes and their determination and ability. The thought of taking home a “gold medal” was too tempting to resist!

We decided to take the plunge. We entered into the Corporate Champions Vancouver Summer Games, a tournament that today has 35 companies and over 1,300 participants competing.


Creation Technologies & Corporate Champions Vancouver Summer Games 2012

The program has really enabled us to come together as a team, helping us build trust, forge stronger relationships, and form cohesive teams.

This was our third year participating in the Games, and it’s been our best year yet. The events just wrapped up last weekend, and we’re really proud of our accomplishments.

We achieved competitive success, placing in the top 3 teams in 3 of the sports we joined.

More importantly, we also achieved pride in ourselves and teambuilding success.

Being Good Sports
Being Good Sports: One of our Creation—BC soccer teams hard at play

It’s been great seeing people come to work wearing their medals, or seeing them hanging proudly at their workstations. I’ve loved listening to everyone share their stories and hear what a great time people had at the games this year.

Returning to the question of whether our “work hard, play hard” mindset is alive and vibrant, the answer’s yes!

We’re really looking forward to next year! Maybe we should start practicing now…

Are you in a leadership role, looking for ways to engage your people?

Or are you part of a team, and looking for ways to build relationships to make it stronger?

Or maybe you just want to have some fun at work!

Here are some things to think about as you consider team challenge activities.


Tip #1: Tie the events into your day-to-day programs and initiatives.

Whether it be wellness, health & safety or teambuilding activities, use programs you already have in place as the foundation for a team challenge. Build on the initial theme as a motivator, and tie in the competitive aspect.

Tip #2: Ask the experts.

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to team challenges.

Consider partnering with a company like Corporate Champion Vancouver or any organization that has a simple approach to building a team. Their core expertise is in developing programs and events that provide a positive experience, and most often these organizations have optimized a model that works for a broad number of people.

Partnering externally also provides your people an opportunity to network and interact with others outside the organization, which can be a great learning experience and a way to make new friends.

Tip #3: Get aligned.

Like with any new program, you’ll want to evaluate how impactful it will be for your team, whether you have the budget, and one of the biggest questions – will people actually participate?

Pat On The Back
Pat On The Back: Members of our Creation—BC Bowling Team prepping for the next round!

Just make sure that the activities and any partner organizations align with your company’s culture, and that the environment is always encouraging and fun!

The advantage of using sport or any other universal language to get people to rally behind a goal is that it’s a great bridge between people of different ages, cultures, demographics, genders, and roles within the company.

What kinds of team building activities have you organized or taken part in? What have you liked, and what have you disliked? What tips can you give to a company looking to participate in their own team challenges?

Successful Weight Loss Challenge – We Lost It!

Weight Loss Challenge Winners
Creation – Milwaukee’s amazing Weight Loss Challenge Winners:
Jaime Miron, Alicia Frosh and Nydia Munoz lost an amazing 6.6% combined weight.

When we rolled out our Weight Loss Challenge in Creation’s Milwaukee business unit a few months ago, we really didn’t know what to expect.

Over the last decade, our People & Culture Team–that’s ‘Human Resources’, in most companies–has worked really hard to offer as much support at work as we can to make living a healthy lifestyle easy and fun. It’s been really inspiring to watch as more and more people have gotten interested, then involved, then committed.

So personally I was optimistic about the challenge, but I have to say, I really had no idea what was coming!

Thinking back to the beginning, it’s hard to believe that our first Weigh-In was over 11 weeks ago. (Yes, we took some of our inspiration from The Biggest Loser). Since then, we’ve pushed, encouraged, challenged, and held each other accountable. And the results are in!

Team Support

If you read the first post, Weight Loss Challenge – Just Lose It!, you’ll know that we organized ourselves into small teams. (Small teams are proven to be effective, offering an intimate environment for personal support. To read more, see this study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Role of social support in lifestyle-focused weight management interventions).

Our teams with the highest percentage of weight loss were the winners.

I couldn’t have imagined we’d do so well as a team. It makes my personal achievement that much better to know that I did it with friends and teammates, and that we all helped each other succeed.

I know that sounds pretty warm and fuzzy, but talk about an ultimate team-building experience! I’ve come through this a better person inside and out, and I have my teammates to thank for that.

The Final Weigh-In…

The ‘Just Lose It’ weight loss challenge was over, and the winners of the weight-losers decided, so all that was left was figuring out when to make the announcement. Why not at our Spring Wellness Walk, one of the first Creation-wide Wellness traditions and started here in Milwaukee?

Workplace Wellness Walk
Spring Wellness Walk near Creation – Milwaukee in Oak Creek, WI

Everyone gathered together. Drum roll, please….

‘Las Muchachas’ took 1st place. Jaime Miron, Alicia Frosh and Nydia Munoz lost an amazing 6.6% combined weight.

Omar Velez and Andres Chaves in ‘Team 9’ took 2nd spot with a staggering 4.8% weight loss.

Weight Loss Challenge Winners
Omar Velez and Andres Chaves achieved a staggering 4.8% weight loss

And, (this is where I get to brag a bit), I’m pleased to say that my team ‘Wasting Away in Creation-ville’ with Heather Ohlinger, Bridgette Yang, Phoua Yang, Ron Rutowski and myself came in 3rd with a 4.7% weight-loss figure.

Honorable Mention went to Marcus Daniels with an individual 12% total weight loss!

So here’s the really amazing number, and the one I wasn’t prepared for…

As a group, we lost 474.35 pounds! Yes, 474.35 pounds.

So here’s the thing. You can do it, too.

If you are thinking about a weight loss challenge of your own, either as part of a Workplace Health and Wellness program or because you’re just trying to get healthy personally, maybe our story can help motivate and get people on board.

Losing weight can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be an awful experience. Draw on your own passion to get healthy, and challenge your teammates and coworkers to join in.

You never know where it might lead, but it just might be an unexpected 475 pounds towards a healthier lifestyle!

Looking for some Workplace Weight Loss Challenge Ideas of your own? Read our earlier posts or try a 30-day weight loss challenge to start the ball rolling.

What Workplace Wellness Weight Loss Tips can you offer?

Bike to Work Week: One Man’s Love Affair with Cycling

Bike to Work Week

Cycling Around the World

I have a long love story with cycling.

I started cycling at a young age back in Mexico, like many other kids in my neighborhood. But it wasn’t until I was 15 that I took it as one of my passions, and I became part of my home state cycling team.

I loved cycling because it gave me that sense of adventure, going places where I hadn’t been before in a way that not many people would go. I used to cycle what was called “Around the World”, a ride from Guadalajara to the Riviera de Chapala lake and back, it was a 130km ride with some big hills.

I cycled all the way through my early 20s…then marriage, then kids, and work, stress, etc. These new pressures didn’t help to keep me in shape, which seems to be a very common story! I was still cycling occasionally, but I wasn’t committed.

One of the things that I love about living in Vancouver is the number of cyclists and the infrastructure in place. When I moved here in April 2009 I felt like it was the perfect place to reconnect with cycling.

I remember coming to work (from Main and 41st) during the first week of work, it was fantastic, it was Springtime, the perfect time of the year to ride a bicycle.

But it was hard to be consistent. I was used to riding in fair weather back in sunny Mexico, but not in the rainy and cold Vancouver weather!

It wasn’t until 2010 that I finally made a commitment to myself that I would achieve my goal: to ride 5,000 kms before year-end. It seemed impossible at the time.

Mental Roadblocks

Cycling in Vancouver in the Spring
Cycling in Vancouver in the Spring

For all of us, there are always things that ‘come up’ to take us off course: family obligations, internal obstacles, etc. At the end of the day it’s all mental, we set ourselves up to fail or succeed.

During the wintertime, for example, when I leave home all the ride is at night and most of it with rain and cold. Today, I don’t think about the obstacles, the rain or the cold, I just go. I know that once I’m out, I enjoy it.

So by midway through 2010, motivation had kicked in, making things easier. I was starting to lose weight and get fit…and all that while I was going to work, something I had to do anyway.

I ended 2010 having exceeded my goal with 5,116kms ridden, and then again the next year, in 2011, I also rode over 5,000kms!

Now, in 2012, I’ve decided to make it a little bit more challenging, I’m not keeping track of how far I cycle, but I’m riding a single speed, fixed gear bicycle, that makes all the hills really fun.

I’m really enjoying it! And there are lots of great reasons to keep it up.

Why Cycling? And Why Bike to Work Week?

Cycling has many benefits.

Not only has cycling helped me to get back in shape doing something I love, it has had an impact on how I deal with stress and it’s good for the environment.

I think I set a good example to my 3 kids. Today when I get home, I have the energy I need to spend with my family. No additional gym time is required.

And I save money due to rising gas prices!

I am a big advocate of cycling, not only because I see the benefits for myself, but also for my family and my community…less cars, less traffic, less pollution, less stress.

Here are some average statistics from my commute; my round-trip is around 38kms a day;

  • Commuting by car: Time 1.5hrs. Cost – $200/month.
  • Commuting by bus/skytrain: Time 2hrs. Cost – $100/month
  • Commuting by bike: Time 1.5hrs – 2hrs. Cost – Free once you get the bike. 😀

Try Cycling Yourself! Here’s How.

For those thinking about cycling to work I would recommend a few things.

  1. Get your bike tuned up, there’s nothing worse than having problems with your bike while riding it.
  2. If you don’t have a bike, buy the best bike you can afford, don’t go to the big box stores. Go to your local shop, have a budget in mind, and they should be able to help you out.
  3. Get to know your route to work. Google Maps has the option to show the best route for a bike. Find the route with less traffic.
  4. Don’t stress yourself! Take it easy at the beginning…you can try it once a week and increase your rides from there once you’re comfortable.
  5. Always wear a helmet. They look good on everyone, in their own way.
  6. Take your time, enjoy the view, stop at the local shops along the way.

Case in point, last Friday during rush hour I was able to stop at an antique shop on my way to my house and picked up a really nice old fly fishing rod without having to battle to find a parking spot…

What about you? What got you into cycling? Do you cycle to work or for pleasure or both?

Or, if you’re not cycling yet but are thinking about it, what’s holding you back? Someone might be able to offer some great advice to help.

Tips for Weight Loss & A Healthy Lifestyle

You may have read about our recent ‘Just Lose It’ Weight Loss challenge here in Milwaukee, aimed at helping to challenge people to lose weight and start living a healthier lifestyle. We’d like to share a success story!

Josh, one of our assemblers, actually started his weight loss journey a few months before we started ours together at Creation. He is getting married soon (please feel free to congratulate him in the Comments below!) and, in preparation for his upcoming wedding, has already lost 33lbs!

Josh, now a local hero, agreed to step in front of the camera and share some of his thoughts about living a healthy lifestyle and offer some weight-loss tips that everyone can use.

Play the video below to hear Josh’s “Healthy Tips, Healthier Me!”

What are some of the challenges you’ve had, or have seen other people have on a weight loss journey? What are some of your tips to get, and stay, motivated?

Weight Loss Challenge – Just Lose It!

Weight-Loss Challenge: Just Lose It!Early this year, our Wellness committee in Milwaukee decided it would be fun to host a weight loss challenge at work.

At Creation, we’ve been advocates of Workplace Wellness for a long time (I’d just like to take a moment and encourage other companies to take a look at the Well Workplace program through the Wellness Council of America).

Over the last decade, we’ve seen the growing popularity of television shows like NBC’s The Biggest Loser, aimed at fighting obesity and challenging people and communities to start living a healthier lifestyle. We thought we’d tap into this kind of group challenge as a way to keep us motivated and to have some fun!

Just What the Doctor Ordered

We posted the flyers, sent the emails and spread the word for our new challenge, called Just Lose It! It turns out that it was just what many of our people were looking for.

Support and accountability are important elements in a weight loss challenge like this one, and so we asked people to form small teams (minimum of 2 people and a maximum of 5) and to sign up to participate.

To our delight, at the very first weigh-in on March 1st, we had 23 teams and a total of 82 participants! That’s about one-third of our people here in Milwaukee.

Weight-Loss Support & Motivation

We knew we’d need some expert support and coaching. Kim Flannery, a nutritionist at the Wisconsin Athletic Club, started us off with some valuable information about what sort of nutrition our bodies need and how we can get it. Over 140 people attended her session! We continue to use some of her tips and recipes from her blog:

It’s been several months now, and we’ve been walking together, weighing in and trying to hold ourselves and our teammates accountable. Like any challenge of value, for some of us it has been a struggle, while others have done very well.

Our weigh-out is coming soon and we will be announcing our winners at our Spring Wellness Walk. We will be sure to keep you posted!

Are you planning a workplace wellness event? What kind of tips would you offer to people trying to motivate and organize this kind of weight loss challenge?

Dealing with Grief

Dealing with Grief: Practice of Gratitude
Dealing with grief can be very difficult.  Learn how to Practice Gratitude and remember to ask for help.

A few weeks ago I had an idea for a post on ‘How to deal with negativity’ and the ‘poor pitiful me’ syndrome that can come with human nature. I hadn’t started writing it yet, but as I was driving to work this morning, I realized that I needed to take some of my own upcoming advice.

You see, today is difficult. In Creation’s Lexington business unit, we recently lost a friend and co-worker who had retired in December.

As a People & Culture Leader at Creation and as a Human Resources professional, I need to know how to help people who are dealing with grief. Grief affects us all in different ways, but there are things we can do to help ourselves get through difficult situations and I needed to practice some of them myself.

What advice am I talking about that can help us deal with grief and overcome negativity? One technique is the Practice of Gratitude.

I had a conversation over a year ago with a very wise woman. It was at a time in my life when I could find so much to complain about and just felt dissatisfied. Then she taught me to practice this art of positive thinking. She told me about the Practice of Gratitude.

I began this practice each night when I got into bed. I had to name three things that I was thankful for in that day. Had I encountered an act of kindness, had a good chat with my daughter, learned how to cook a new recipe, found a friend?

At first it was a struggle but with practice, the thankfulness began pouring out of me and in turn, my outlook changed. No longer did I feel the burden of my troubles. I felt the true lift of positivity and saw how truly blessed I was.

There are many ideas on the practice of gratitude, but these steps worked for me and I recommend them to my teammates:

2 Easy Ways to Practice Gratitude

  1. Practice Gratitude Daily. It doesn’t work if you don’t do it. Consistency is important if you want to make it stick.
  2. Pick 3 Things That Make You Grateful. Some days it may be hard to find 3 things but they are there. If you are really struggling with identifying 3 things, talk to your spouse, friend or family member.

So today, with the feeling of loss pushing its way in, I started counting my blessings:

I’m grateful for the wide-eyed enchantment of my child believing that the Tooth Fairy visited last night.

I’m grateful for the wonderful day I shared with family and neighbors yesterday in the glorious sunshine.

But most of all today, I’m grateful for getting to know and sharing in the life of Beatrice Deaton.

Do you practice gratitude?

Has it helped you grieve or get through a difficult situation? How? And what would you say to people who’ve never tried to practice gratitude? Please share your thoughts and advice by leaving a comment, below.



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