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Transcript: Does Team Building Get Results? (EP26)


Intro (with music): Welcome to The Culture of Things podcast with Brendan Rogers. This is a podcast where we talk all things, culture, leadership and teamwork across business and sport.


Brendan Rogers: Hello, everybody. I'm Brendan Rogers, the host of The Culture of Things podcast. And this is Episode 26.

Today, I'm talking with Pip Scott-Allen. Pip is originally from Canada and now lives in the beautiful Hunter region of New South Wales. He is the Director and Lead Facilitator of Premier Team Building. Pip’s business is focused on corporate team building where he designs and facilitates custom team building events. He works with businesses of all sizes across New South Wales.

Pip refers to his role as a facilitator of Awesome with one goal - to make your team awesome!

Instead of standing in front of you and preaching about how to motivate, how to be a creative problem solver, or how to deliver exceptional customer service, Pip prefers to play games to help people reach conclusions and experience real results!

Pip has a love for the outdoors and adventure. This has seen him gather experience in a variety of roles covering ice and rock climbing, mountain expeditions, tree top walks, abseiling, survival skills, as well as being an outdoor education leader at Canadian camps for school children.

The focus of our conversation today is around team building activities and how they can help your team.

Pip, welcome to The Culture of Things podcast.

Pip Scott-Allen: Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate that.

Brendan Rogers: Mate, it's an absolute pleasure. I'm really looking forward to this conversation. You and I, we've never actually met face-to-face, but we've had a couple of phone conversations and you're a pretty energetic dude.

Pip Scott-Allen: (Laughing) Thank you. It's all the coffee I drink and no, it would be fantastic for the opportunity for us to one day actually meet. We have had great conversations so far.

Brendan Rogers: Well, we're not far away, so we'll certainly make it happen, mate. Look, let's get into things. How about, first of all, you tell us a little bit about your business, Premier Team Building, and how your journey took you into this space where you are now.

Pip Scott-Allen: Yeah, definitely. I'd love to. Well, Premier Team Building is just that. We're a company that delivers premier team building events. You explained it beautifully. We design and deliver exciting hands-on team events.

Growing up, going to summer camps in Canada, and then leading them myself, I found there's a real power behind hands-on experiences with young adults to adults, to corporate leaders. Really again, to disarm themselves and have some fun and learn some skills behind it which is what led me to eventually create Premier Team Building. I wanted businesses and their employees to benefit from the working relationships that they could have with one another. I wanted people to be happy within their workplace and delivering excellence, just be awesome employees. It's a fun experience with what I've been able to do.

I have, I can't lie, Premier Team Building really started when I was working for a company that said they offered team building activities, but it was more so of an SEO ranking option, and we weren't delivering the results or really, the quality that the companies deserved. So I got into developing more programs on my side for this company, then branched off and wanted to do it all on my own ‘cause I want to deliver real excellence. I know firsthand what it's like to work for good and bad companies, and the power behind team building events and seeing how a team can go into an event broken to then come out united and driven to see real success within one another.

Brendan Rogers: That last little bit you talked about, the power of team building, I'd love you just to expand on that point a little bit like, you've led various days and events and customise events for clients. What is this power actually look like?

Pip Scott-Allen: A lot of people call it the ‘aha’ moment where after they've, you know, that Eureka moment where they've stumbled across that golden nugget, I like to call it. And the power of team building is a lot of times, we have made wrong assumptions with one another within our business, within what we do. And through these programs, we work to break down those assumptions to put everyone on a level playing field, to build some new connections. And quite often, we see through these events where people look at it, an employee or team member, who they've never really connected with, and you can see a trigger in their eyes and be like, “I now get this person. I now understand their motivation behind what it is they do and how I've been leading them towards this troublesome spot.”

“We may have been stuck in as a leader. Maybe, I'm not, you know, communicating effectively. I'm now understanding why I'm seeing these outcomes from my team members.” And we've had some amazing events where we've been able to relate to the employees, to the struggles the management have, and outline with the managers how they need to express themselves better, to have their team members relate better to them. ‘Cause unfortunately, it's, we, you know, with different positions, there's always division of knowledge. And we've worked with these teams to help them bridge those gaps so that each other can understand each other's roles a bit better and just empathise with one another. And it's the power of these events. You see teams who come in, who's not motivated. They don't feel appreciated. They don't feel like they have a voice. And at the end, they're happy. They're engaging with one another on a new whole level. They form some new, different connections with each other and they just relate to one another on a more intimate level that they trust each other more.

And through that trust, it allows them to vocalise ideas and concepts and allows them to become better problem-solving people because they feel safe. And through the power of making people feel safe, the potential outcome for businesses, when you have individuals who feel safe to vocalise their ideas, whether it be right, silly, wrong, you know, this an amazing tool for any leader to have?. And you know, we customise our events to suit the needs of our teams, but we also pay very close attention to what we're seeing on the day to make sure that we were given the right information. And at times, people might not see a problem that we see ourselves as an outsider. So we're able to adapt and change the focus slightly to make sure that the power of those events is truly relevant. And that if we see an issue, we're not going to ignore it because it wasn't on the scope of the day. We're going to address it because that is what is needed. And it's by doing things like that, that we've got a real powerful experience for the team members. Like I said, everyone, it's fun. We play fun games, and people walk out happy, motivated, and feel invested in by the company.

Brendan Rogers: What I'd love you to share is you also mentioned the ‘aha’ moments for you and the businesses you've worked with. Is there any particular ‘aha’ moment that stuck in your head and you really felt, “Wow!, this is where we're making a difference in this organisation.”

Pip Scott-Allen: I think one that really stuck out with me, it was a relatively large team we're working with, I think there was roughly about 50 people on the day, and there was a real disconnect between the Manager and the team. The team didn't necessarily respect the Manager at times. And the Manager was having a hard time leading their group. So we were doing a program that pushed people to their boundaries. And because we knew that there was an issue with them following instructions, what we did is we chose people who are not the typical leaders and put them in positions of power. And at first, we would simply say, “You, Timmy, you're now in charge of the program. You're gonna lead your team to accomplish this task. And we didn't put any other restrictions and boundaries on it. We just said, “You're boss. Go for it.”

And through that challenge, Timmy then realised how the team was not actually listening and how all these different voices were all talking over one another. And he eventually said that he found it very hard to get the point across and really lead the team ‘cause no one was listening, ‘cause there's so much noise going on. And he found that he now related to his boss better because he was having taken all these points of information from all these different perspectives from the entire team. And he was then having to distill it to then pass it back on to the team within their direction of what he needed them to do. So he then realised why at times his boss might not be as prompt with some of the responses that they needed because he was having to sift through an abundance of information. And then he realised that what he needed to do, Timmy, to make this work is to only listen to a few people.

So he started to actually implement some structures that his Manager was using by having team leaders, different group leaders say, “Oh, you four, you talk to Paul, Paul's going to talk to me.” You four there and you go and to talk to me and then realise that the reason his boss was compartmentalising the teams was to minimise the amount of excessive communication and noise to them to get to the true information that was needed. And when Timmy & I discussed this with a team, the rest of them started to realise ‘cause they saw the struggles that Timmy was having, and they were feeling the same frustrations. And then, they realised that this is why their boss at times is frustrated because too much information that's not relevant or too many people talking at once. And the team started to have that better respect and understanding for the pressures of their Manager and they connected on a new level. And they realise the importance of channels of communication and why certain individuals, be it arbitrary, not were put in position to pass on the information up the chain. And afterwards, you just saw a different level, a very soft, I wouldn’t say somber, as opposed to a good level of respect for the team, they now understood the pressure that their Manager felt. And they knew how they could help relieve that by cutting out some of the unnecessary noise that they were creating within the feedback loop.

Brendan Rogers: In that example, and I guess it relates to any sort of scenarios that might come up that you're working with teams. How do you then debrief a situation like that and actually get the team to take that back and that experience back into their workplace? So it's not just another team building event that has been really great for the day and everything, but then, there is a connotation sometimes around team-building type events. And it does give team building a little bit of bad name here and there, which I think is unwarranted. But the transfer of that learning in those fun activities and people have their guards down, but have that back in the workplace in there every day, how do you try and make that happen and close that gap?

Pip Scott-Allen: After the events, after each individual challenge, some of our programs are consist of multiple, different phases, we do a debrief about what was just experienced. Right then and there. Just, “Let's talk about what was done.” And at first, we relate nothing directly back to the workplace. We, as the facilitators, we know that we're leading questions and we're pushing the right pain points so that we're relating it subtly back to the workplace, but we're not talking about the business. We'll say, “Timmy, how did you feel about this?” You know, “What was that challenge? I've seen teams do that in 5 minutes. Why did it take you 15?” So we start going down the road of asking questions to just simply relate to the challenge itself. And then, we start interjecting some questions that relate back to the business. “Where have you ever experienced something like this before where it's taking you longer to do a very simple task?” And then we lead them towards, “How does this relate back to your business?” And often start asking those questions.

You know, “Do you see similarities of what you've experienced with what your Manager, may experience or what your team leader is, will experience and what you deal with on a daily basis?” And we pause and let the team really sit and stew on it and allow them to use, or pick up the similarities between what they've just done and what they do on a daily basis. And you can see those little lightning bolts going off in their minds. They're realising that we've just done a very abstract scenario that is very similar to the workplace. Then, after we've done these debriefs and we give them some skills and some tips, say, “You just demonstrated X, Y, and Z. So I know you can do X, Y, and Z back in the workforce. You've showed me that you have the ability, so you can be accountable at this point to yourself. ‘Cause you know you can do it.”

After all of our events, we then do a report for our clients as well. And we say, “Hey, here's what we saw on the day. Here are some of the challenges. Here's what you wanted us to address. Here's what we saw as well. And here are a couple of points that we want to bring to your attention. We saw the team overcome these challenges, X, Y, and Z, and they successfully accomplished this. They did these skills. The team knows they have that ability. So we recommend that you do the following back in your workforce, back in your place of business to remind them of these challenges, to hold them accountable to these skills they've already demonstrated that they can do.”

And within this report, we'll give them some tips on what we recommend for them to move forwards, how to hold their team accountable to these skills that they've demonstrated. And then, we also follow up a couple of weeks later as well. Just another look, accountability check saying, “Hey, how are you going?” We said, “These were a couple of things to be mindful of. What have you done to implement those?” Making sure that the business is getting the money for their investment. They want to develop their team. They did this. They've received some reports on what to do, how they then act on it is unfortunately back onto their hand for a simple team building day. We make sure that we check in with them to make sure that they're actually following through on some of those tips and keeping ourselves as a point of contact to if they have questions that they can do that. We want to make sure that our clients, when they leave, have a good understanding of where they were, where they are, where they can be.

Brendan Rogers: It’s great to see that you are doing something to close that gap. Well done and thanks for sharing. Typically, what would a client or an organisation, looking at using Premier Team Building services, typically, what sort of issues, challenges are they having and that they want you to help them overcome?

Pip Scott-Allen: One of the big ones we're having recently, which I think a lot of businesses, New South Wales and globally, can really relate to is change in teams, new people coming, old people leaving. So a lot of it right now has been focused heavily on connecting individuals and building trust and respect within the team, be it new people coming in, or, you know, teams having to downsize and having to rely on different people in a different format.

We also have teams who just don't communicate well. That's been a big one where they just don't talk, communicate with each other very well. And in turn, deliver bad customer service because of that. Those were some of the big challenges that we saw throughout the year of 2019. And we discussed with them on how to be better communicators, be more effective, how to deliver that great customer service because the communication goes both ways.

And you know, trust has been, it's an ongoing pain point we've worked with a lot of our customers recently in the past year. Just making sure that people feel that, you know, they trust their team members, that each other have one another's back and that if they make a mistake, they're not going to be usurped by someone who's trying to steal their position or steal their authority. We have teams like that. They're on a defensive mode and we don't want to be defensive. We need to be on the offense most of the time. Those are the big pain points we've been dealing with a lot recently. And the typical ones like problem solving, you know, businesses, they're doing well, but they're doing the same thing day in, day out and not really growing, not making any new changes. To work with some clients, who really want to adapt. If you want to make some big changes, want their teams to get on board. Sometimes, you get those teams or that rolling stone, and they keep doing the same thing day in, day out. It's a straight line, but they need to change direction. And some people are less likely to be on board with change because change is scary. Change is uncomfortable. So, some of our programs are all focused around making change to help individuals adapt to those situations, how to take that feedback and how to run with new ideas to move in a different direction.

Brendan Rogers: Yeah. You mentioned change is obviously a critical area, and those words - trust and respect - also critical within teams. Let's follow that theme through and you're customising, you’re designing events around clients' needs. Tell us a little bit about when you've got those sort of three foundations. I suppose there's change, challenges in the organisation, and maybe there's a, as a result of lack of trust and respect in amongst the team members, what does it, a day or an event look like if they're the sort of foundations of what you're trying to help these teams work through better?

Pip Scott-Allen: Before we work with any clients on an event, we always do a team assessment. Anyone who wants one, we do on complimentary, regardless of being a client or not. We find out who they are, what they do, who they do it with, client base, how their team interacts with each other, within their clients. We really want to know how the business operates in that sense to make sure that the program that they've chosen, that we're delivering suits their needs. So we'll adapt it in those situations to make sure that whatever we're doing is relevant. That's the big thing for any team building activity, regardless. You need to make sure that's relevant and you can get some results that, you know, suits your needs.

And we're looking at things like trust and change and that respect level. We'll do little challenges intermittently through a bigger program where we'll perhaps take away somebody's ability of sight, or we'll take away the entire team's ability of sight. So, everyone's blindfolded bar that one person. That one person is now responsible to guide and lead people perhaps through an obstacle course of some sorts. And they need to put their total trust in that individual, because if they don't, if they don't trust that person and they don't respect that person and vice versa, there's a potential for an embarrassing moment of a slip and fall in a puddle or the team's penalised in some way. So we start off small by getting people to work on their communication, work on that trust. And we'll reverse the roles at one point as well. So, for example, Bob was to lead you through a blindfolded course. You would then have to lead me through a different blindfolded course. So if I mistreat you, you have the ability to mistreat me. So we get people to think about that karma that, you know, ‘pay-it-forward’ kind of aspect within their team, that if I look after you, you'll look after me in a good way, not as a blackmail or anything, but simply, you know, if I'm nice to you, you're gonna be nice to me. And we both get the results that we really want.

And then, through our debriefs in that time, as we pause our challenges, we see a team struggling at certain points and we start weeding through, sometimes, the excessive noise of people's ideas and start asking why didn't we adopt someone's idea or ask for an idea just to be presented for us to overcome this challenge? And a little mantra that we use is, “Okay, how?” So, anytime someone gives us an idea, the answer always begins with, “okay”, and then “how”. The okay is a buy-in aspect. It allows us to accept the idea for change, and then how puts our trust back in the person.

And them into us, by having that open communication of, “How do we execute this idea? Can't do it alone, I need you.” So there's that support. There's that respect aspect. And we open the communication so both parties are able to discuss how they're going to navigate this new solution. That's one of the things we coach with a lot of our clients and see “okay, how?” principle is. Anytime someone gives you feedback, customer team member, whomever response should always be, “Okay, how?” And then, you know, move forward with it from there. And by taking our time with these challenges, going slowly, at times, we get people to interact on a more intimate level. And we do our very best to make sure that we mix the groups up so they're not with their best friends. We've got really fun ways to trick you into working with your best friends, which then results in you not working with your best friends.

So you work with new different people to extend your contacts and to extend your reach of comfort. And by doing so, you start building those new levels of trust and respect within one other, because when you're comfortable, you typically work with those you're comfortable with, but there's a great saying, you know, “You're only as good as the people you surround yourself with.” And if those you surround yourself aren't working their best, you'd start looking elsewhere. So, we naturally forced them to push outside of those boundaries to find those better people, perhaps, or those people with new different ideas. That's sort of how we kind of push our teams towards working more together, to trust each other a bit more. We'll pause. Lot of times, we'll do a lot of mid-program debriefs. We have some challenges that are like 12 stages. And after each stage, we'll just have a small, little debrief just to get everyone's opinion. So everyone has the same level of knowledge so that it can then, as things grow, go back to their foundations, and trust the feedback they received earlier and see firsthand what does, what does not work.

Brendan Rogers: Mate, ultimately, it sounds like an enormous amount of fun. And that word is ringing in my ears. The reason is because you mentioned a couple of times, and I'm just visualising these days and these events, but a really good friend of mine who actually lives up your way around the Hunter, Newcastle area, a lady by the name of Joey Peters who's a Matildas legend. Fantastic person. And she has developed some frameworks around her own learnings and really, there's so much learning in fun. And that's how she bases all of her practices in the organisations and the sporting teams that she works with. So, we talked about a bit of that on Episode 10 actually in The Culture of Things podcast, where we talked about the culture of youth development. But I also know when we're talking fun, there are some really funny moments. I've run workshops over many, many years and various events and things like that. Is there a moment where you really remember that something just absolutely so funny happened in some of these things that you've been running?

Pip Scott-Allen: Being here in Australia, you got to do events on the beach and it's like come summer when things are nice and people are willing to be, you know, running around the beach. There's no better place. We were doing some events last year, Catherine Hill Bay, an absolutely beautiful spot. And there's this one small challenge. It's basically a big pipe, lots of holes. And you have to fill it full of water, but your team has to use their fingers to plug the holes. It's a race. Two or more teams are racing against each other who can fill the pipe, this big leaky bucket. And there's one team member right into it. Full speed ahead. Straight into the ocean. Face plants into the ocean. Soaking wet. Everyone's laughing. Everyone's cheering. Hands are coming off the pipes, water spilling out. People are then having to react to the fact they got distracted by what's going on. Plug the holes again. This person's got a bucket, runs back up, dumps the bucket in half full of water, mostly full of sand. Has to run back down. The entire team is laughing, cheering this individual who didn't care. They thought it was hilarious. You know, they got their teams back, “I tripped, I stumbled. I'm soaking wet. I'm covered in sand.” Now it's, you know, 30, you know, whatever degree is, gorgeous day on the beach. If you did something like that within the workplace, you'd be so embarrassed. But because we changed the perspective, the team just rolled with it. And like, “This is fun. It's funny, no harm, no foul. We all laughed about it.” And then, you know, he just continued running back and forth. At the end, this person was dripping wet, had to go for another proper swim to rinse all the sand. ‘Cause they'd been tripped a couple more times and were a little bit crusty, but that one was, probably one of the great ones from last year of having, you know, this, the team all lose it at one point in laughter of support, not criticism in any way, it was all jovial laughter of, “Look how dedicated this person is.” And they've accidentally dunk themselves into the ocean.

Brendan Rogers: Sounds like there's a great opportunity to get yourself a film crew and record some of these things. Because there sounds like some potential for some viral YouTube videos in some of that stuff.

Pip Scott-Allen: Oh, definitely. We take a lot of photos. We're constantly, we try to provide a small little video at the end of the day for all of our clients. A couple of our programs we’ve even designed that the team has to take photos. That's one of the challenges. And with that one, you know, people are doing really embarrassing stuff and each individual walks away with their phones full of photos of the day rather than saying, “Oh, put your phones away.” We use it as a tool that everyone walks with some great memories. And then we provide some photos and we've had some amazing beautiful days. End of last year was a bit more challenging with some of the smoky days. But no, we get some amazing, funny videos and it connects everyone. It's a great tool to look back on when things are getting hard, you have that content on your computer and say, “You know, remember these days.” You know, “Let's all go out and kind of just chat about this.” Remember that good old time. And it's a great fallback for my teams to rely on having those photos we supply.

Brendan Rogers: They are great opportunities for vulnerability and helping to become more vulnerable which is absolutely critical when you're building trust. I want to talk a little bit about you because experiences shape us. What is it in your background and experiences you've had around this stuff that's made you so passionate about this that you wanted to start this business? And you're working with organisations.

Pip Scott-Allen: My short answer is I've worked with the good, the bad, and the ugly of leaders. I've worked with some amazing companies and I've worked with a lot of companies who just did not care. And I definitely learned so much from those companies that didn't care. I know firsthand, I remember working with this one company and there was customer complaints about certain things. So we'd run it up the chain of command. ‘Cause that's how the structure was. We had to get them to allow us to make these changes. No. Not making these changes. And the people above us were very much against any feedback internally, “This is how we do it. This is how we always do it. This is how you will do it.” And anytime we suggested anything new, say, “Well, the customers are saying this.” “Well, Nope. This is how we do it.”

So, the internal customer service I have received from some of my previous employers, when I was younger, I felt firsthand how negative it was. And I then reflected back on it and saw how negative I became as an employee as well. If at any time I was suggesting an idea to improve the business, improve service, improve something, the response is always no. So, anytime a customer would come to me and say, “You should do this.” My answer was no, because I knew the company wasn't going to do it. So I wasn't willing to put my energy into something that I once cared so much about because the company itself was not putting any energy back into me and not hearing out any ideas. And when working for some of these companies, I will be the first to admit that I definitely became a poor performing employee, but I don't believe I was totally at fault for those times.

When the companies just did not care about the team, the morale, the customer service, they delivered to any of us, there was a direct correlation to the customer service that we were then delivering to the customers because we couldn't care. No one cared about us. Why would we care about the company? It’s that tit-for-tat kind of thing. And I got to the end where I was no longer willing to put my name to such a company any longer so I had to leave and find places that were more in line with my values. And when I've worked for people who've cared about my opinions, who've basically said, “I've hired you to do a job because I know you have the skills to do it. You don't need me to micromanage everything.” I've invested myself 10 times more into those companies because I feel valued.

So I know how a culture of caring and not caring really impacts the level of investments an employee will put into your business. Like when you don't care about your employee and don't care about their ideas, are not willing to hear them out, to let them help you improve your business, they're not gonna give you more than what's on the dotted line. They're going to pull out their contracts, they're gonna review it and go, “Alright. This is what you pay me for. This is exactly what I'm going to do no more, no less.” But when you value a person, I felt it over with a company for a while, and they were saying, “You can do this. You know it. You're employed to do this task. We can't do it for you.” I gave so much more of myself because I felt appreciated.

I wanted to show how awesome I was. I wanted to show how awesome I could make their business be. And it was purely out of respect for me and these businesses who I've worked with, who've taken time to do events for their teams, who are willing to stop production for a day, take it out, “You go do some team building events” or to do something special for us made us realise that they cared because businesses who never stop and never take a moment, say sorry, “Customers, we’re closed for the day to develop and appreciate our team who does all this awesome stuff for you.” Businesses who won't do that, it just shows how they care solely for the income coming in and not about those who are generating that income being the frontline workers, and the people that produce the products. And it becomes a toxic environment.

I know when I worked for some of these bad places, I was unhealthy. I was not mentally in the best place. My relationships struggled because my work was so poor that when I came home, I was still dwelling on the negativity. And just everything trickled down to be a societal issue of having a bad culture within a business I worked for. And this is why I launched Premier Team Building. This is why I do what I do. I know how it feels to not be appreciated. I know how bad my quality of work got when I was not valued, when I wasn't being listened to by my employers. When no one seemed to care, wanting to invest in me. And I want to make sure that people never feel that way again. ‘Cause there's no need to ever make someone feel that way. And I know from the businesses I've worked at, I've seen how successful they can be when they invest in their teams and also see how much they lack success when they don't invest in their teams.

When they have an extremely high staff turnover, customers lose faith in the company because there's always a new face every time they walk in. And from an outside perspective, some of these team building games we do, they might look silly, but in the end, there's a really deep rooted message and important value that these teams are walking away with. I often say, “You think back to when you're in elementary school, you had that really fun day. You walk out of the class. You're like, ‘Oh man, that teacher taught me something. We had so much fun doing it.’ You didn't really realise that you were disarmed.” And that's what we do. We disarm people to leave their baggage back in the office, focus on the positives that we're experiencing on the day. Then, relate it back to the office to help bring a new light into everyone's life. Because when you have a really dark and gloomy team, your business is going to be very dark and gloomy. And your customers are the ones who copy it. You might think as a leader that, “So my team members are unhappy. Oh, well. As long as they do their job”. But the energy they put out, the morale that they have trickles down to the customers and the customers lose. You lose.

Brendan Rogers: And as we know, there's two sides to every coin. So those experiences you've just shared, and certainly I'm sure a lot of us can relate to those experiences over the course of our own journeys. How has those experiences helped you to become a better facilitator of Awesome?

Pip Scott-Allen: (Laughing) Definitely, I've been a lot of soul searching, I guess you would say. And reflection. As I mentioned, I know that I wasn't the best employee at times, and it allowed me to really break down the why. At times, it is very easy for us to blame somebody else. I'm a big believer of ownership as a leader. Everything is your responsibility. You need to own every aspect so I try not to blame. If something's gone wrong, chances are I had a part to play. What could I have done better? And it's learning from these lessons, from my shortcomings in my past, and really reviewing why I felt a certain way, why a business was not willing to hear ideas and why certain places got into these ruts. And just by doing this reflection and being brutally honest with myself and say, “I was not a good employee because of the following factors. And knowing what it was going to take for myself to feel valued, and how to reverse engineering it from that point of how I can make people feel valued and how I can make individuals perform better by really reverse engineering.

Why were people not willing to hear ideas? And a lot of times, it's out of fear. They're afraid of change. It's working, okay. I can keep putting duct tape on this crack pipe and it'll still keep flowing water, but yeah, eventually the duct tape needs to be replaced and we need to, you know, this could be a lot more problems down the line. So let's fix it right the first time, but it's, you know, it can be scary to turn the water off for a moment and having to pivot like so many of us have had to do in the past nine months having to make these changes. Change is scary and there's been a lot of soul searching to really break down how I could have done better and what my leaders could have done better for me.

And looking at a very abstract perspective because, you know, if I was my boss, how would I have gotten myself to perform better? What could I have done to motivate me more? And a lot of the times, when I was a junior employee in these positions, I would try to implement some of these ideas of how I could get my coworkers to perform better. I wasn't their boss or anything, but little things like just be more appreciative of my team members for the support that they gave me, you know, valuing and saying, “You know, I couldn't get this done if it wasn't for your help today. Really appreciate that.” And I was able to review back and really empathise with my experiences, the experience of others. I talked with a lot of people to find out about their good, their bad, their ugly experiences with their leaders. What could have been done to, you know, motivate them more? What could they have done better themselves as an employee? And communication's a big one far too often as employees, we don't speak up. We're afraid of losing our jobs especially at this time around the globe. Many of us are in survival mode. “Not gonna speak my mind because I'm afraid of what's going to happen.” But on the other hand, you're not performing as well. And I know firsthand that if I had spoken up at certain places, things could've been done. I also know that in certain other businesses, nothing would have been done ‘cause the care level level was zero. But yeah, just a lot of, soul searching, I guess, to keep it short.

Brendan Rogers: I'm going to start to wrap this up. What I'd like you to do, early on in the interview, we talked a little about what I would term the challenge of team building, the sort of work you do and that transfer of the learning and the fun and the learning into the office environment. If you could give leaders advice, a single biggest bit of advice around working with your organisation and doing those sorts of things, but then, how to apply the real learning into their real life situation in their office, what would that advice look like?

Pip Scott-Allen: Accountability. Being accountable to yourself and your team, probably the biggest, most underlying issue when it comes to any development program, be it team building or anything. If you are serious about improving and developing your team, regardless of what you end up doing, you need to be accountable for the follow-through. If you send your team members away on a customer service program, because you want to have better customer service, obviously, you need to be accountable for the follow through there afterwards. You need to plan for implementation when they come back even before they've left. So, if you are doing team building day, know what goals and outcomes you want and need from that event. And then, before the event, organise follow up meetings with your heads or with your entire team to see how you're going to implement these new strategies. You don't need to have a formal run sheet on how the meeting is going to go, but simply schedule the meetings so that when you come back after an amazing team building day or after a customer service training program, the first day back in the office, you're sitting down saying, “How do we implement these new lessons? How do we hold ourselves accountable to these new skills?"

You got a lot of momentum. You need to run with that and that’s by being accountable to yourself and to your team. And that's where people will feel valued and actually care about the training and what they receive from, you know, you holding them accountable to the implementation. Just with the way the world is with everyone watching the bottom dollars and everything, be mindful of any events you put on, regardless of being team building or any end-of-year party, be aware of the financial stressors you've put your team under and make sure that your signs of affection do not contradict those pressures. What I mean by this is if you've been pushing everybody to cut costs every single day and you're driving everyone to watch every single cent that goes out and goes in, when it comes your end-of-year party, taking everyone to the Star Casino, putting them up in hotels, throwing on a big bar tab is contradictory to every action you've put the team through earlier in the year.

And it will do a lot of negative damage to your workplace culture. So, whatever event you put on, regardless of where you are, what year it might be, make sure that your actions reflect the actions you've been putting on throughout the year itself. If you've had a stellar year and, you know, sales have been booming, then definitely, you have the ability to spend more. But if things have been really tight, you know what, a nice barbeque with some basic Woolies or Coles sausages or from a local butcher, and you invite the families all come out on a Saturday, go to the local park, an event like that is way more powerful and valuable to your team than taking them for a big, luxurious retreat to a casino or something.

Brendan Rogers: Mate, people will want to, if they want to get hold of you, want to have a chat, let us know what we can do to do that.

Pip Scott-Allen: Yeah, definitely. So if anyone wants to find us, it's www.premierteambuilding.com.au. And we're also across all the platforms from Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn. I’ be more than happy to connect with you personally on LinkedIn. If you want to have a discussion, Pip Scott-Allen is how you can find me, your local facilitator of Awesome. Facebook, Premier Team Building. Look for our wolf logo. The wolf logo is across all of our different platforms and it looks very similar to one of my big, fluffy dogs. And if we do ever meet in person, I apologise for the inevitable dog fluff that will most likely be on me.

Brendan Rogers: What are they, Canadian Huskies or something?

Pip Scott-Allen: I do have an Alaskan Malamute. He's my big, fluffy one. And then, I have a Rottie-Husky mix. They both, the Malamutes, the big, fluffy one, white fluff everywhere. The Rottie-Husky, she's a bit more dark fur, so it doesn't show up as much, but it's there. (Laughing)

Brendan Rogers: Good on you, mate. Look, thank you for sharing that. I think today, you've done a fantastic job in actually, definitely articulating what you're about, and your passion around what you're doing with Premier Team Building. But I think more importantly for me, the importance of leaders actually thinking about the program or a team-building type activity and events in a greater holistic view, it's not just about you sending your team off to do some team building stuff or whatever, then come back to the office and you think everything's going to be rosy. It doesn't work like that. So, I think you've done a fantastic job in linking what you're doing and the power of what you're doing in the fun and the learning side of things. And then, trying to bring that back into the office environment and working with the leaders to help them understand that that's where the power of this stuff sits and how the results come about.

So, mate, thank you very much for sharing that. It's been a pleasure chatting and thank you for being a guest on The Culture of Things podcast.

Pip Scott-Allen: Not a problem. Thank you so very much for having me. Really do appreciate it.

(Music plays)

Brendan Rogers: I've run a number of team-building type events in a previous life. I know the value of these when done right, and when the leader is fully engaged in the process. I've also seen where the leader has used it as a tick-the-box process, thinking if they do a day away every now and again, they fulfil their duties of building a high-performing team.

There is a real need in the culture, leadership and teamwork space for what Pip does at Premier Team Building. The critical part is doing what Pip and his team focus on with leaders, to transfer the learning from the game-like experience back into the workplace.

These were my three key takeaways from my conversation with Pip.

My first key takeaway. A well-planned team building event will create opportunities for vulnerability. Changing the environment and mixing this with some fun team-related activities can help people see different perspectives. Align this with the inevitably funny thing that happens when working on a team challenge gives people something to laugh and talk about. Good memories help build connections. People then start seeing each other as real people. And when this happens, it creates a foundation for vulnerability. When done right, this vulnerability can be leveraged to create healthy team discussions.

My second key takeaway. Leaders must be accountable for follow-through. If a leader thinks they can take their team away on a team-building day, and this is enough, they are practicing what I call ‘plastic paddy culture’. They must be accountable to themselves and their team for follow-through after the event. They should plan what they want to achieve and how the event can help the team. They need to discuss with the team when they're back in their workplace how they can implement the new lessons and hold themselves accountable to it.

My third key takeaway. Team-building must be part of a holistic leadership development program. Leadership development programs normally fall into five categories. These include learning programs, experiential programs like team building, personal coaching programs, mentoring programs, or academic leadership programs. Team building exercises can be extremely valuable, but must be part of a holistic leadership development program to be effective.

So in summary, my three key takeaways were, a well-planned team-building event will create opportunities for vulnerability, leaders must be accountable for follow-through, and team building must be part of a holistic leadership development program.

If you have any questions or feedback about this episode, please feel free to send me a message at brendan@thecultureofleadership.com.

Thank you for listening. Stay safe. Until next time. 


Outtro (music): Thank you for listening to The Culture of Things podcast with Brendan Rogers. Please visit thecultureofleadership.com to access the show notes. If you love The Culture of Things podcast, please subscribe, rate and give a review on Apple podcasts and remember a healthy culture is your competitive advantage.