Using StrengthsFinder for Team Building That’s Actually Fun
StrengthsFinder is a tremendous tool for understanding what makes you strong. It’s even better when used in conjunction with other people. The genius of StrengthsFinder is in its potential for leveraging the strengths of an entire team to move the mission of the organization forward. One of the unique ways we have found to help teams understand their strengths is through an experiential activity.
This can take many forms, but the format we enjoy using the most is Vision Trekk. Last week we had the opportunity to experience Vision Trekk with one of our long term clients. The majority of their company has gone through our process. This team had heard stories from previous teams, and were eager to experience it for themselves.
What is Vision Trekk?
Vision Trekk is an experience-based application of the learnings from StrengthsFinder in a partial, whole or multiple day event. It happens in a creative space, outdoors, or other non-work related environment. We lead functional teams toward a common objective, emphasizing individual uniqueness and team dynamics. We observe the team’s interaction, individual attributes and characteristics, while making specific application to leadership and innovation.
This particular Vision Trekk was downtown Minneapolis, near the stone arch bridge. Teams were asked to complete five challenges that had a specific leadership and strengths based application, relevant to where the company is right now.
To begin, they had to decode a “secret message” that contained the location to a map, which held all their other clues. Once they made it to the first location, they found a big rubbermaid tub filled with random stuff. They had to choose their next challenge, and pick out a specific element from the box and navigate to the next location.
Each location had another part of their challenge, which forced them to interact with each other. Some were mentally challenging, some physical, and one was just about working as a team through a very complicated set of instructions.
Consistent Patterns in Vision Trekk
We’ve done some aspect of this Vision Trekk for several years now. We continue to refine and improve it, but three things jump out to me as repeated learnings.
1. People Want to Display Their Strengths
Rarely do we have a group of individuals who refuse to participate. By and large, people want a chance to think outside the box and engage their strengths in new and creative ways. They can’t help but use them – it’s a natural part of who they are. Sometimes it can be more, or less intense than in a normal work setting, but the behaviors are consistent.
2. Strengths are Confirmed From the Group
Many times during the experience, participants didn’t realize they were engaging the challenges in similar ways to how they do in the office.
- The Activator grabs the directions and starts walking while others look through the box.
- The person with Communication makes sure that everyone is understood.
- The person with Competition can’t help but wonder how the other groups are doing.
Humor is often used to confirm what people see on a regular basis. It provides a safe place to point out potential challenges with each other.
3. Conflict or Health is Illuminated
If there is underlying tension or conflict in a team, that will come out during Vision Trekk. Inevitably, the team dysfunction that exists in the office, will show up in the various challenges we ask participants to complete. Similarly, if a team is healthy, that too will be shown in the way they communicate and relate with one another. It is not only affirming, but often reveals alternate ways individuals can partner.
What we Learned
The debrief is when the lights really begin to go on. As we facilitate the talk down, team members are given the opportunity to reveal new insights about themselves or each other.
- One guy realized his Focus strength can help him sharpen his Responsibility strength when asked to take on a specific task (he was the map guy).
- The group all noticed how one persons Responsibility strength was evident during a particular challenge, similarly to how they take ownership of projects in the office.
- A third person confirmed that his Competition strength becomes more alive when there is more at stake.
Vision Trekk provides not only a safe environment to process how each persons strengths are working, but also a launch pad for future opportunities to strengthen the team function. It can show how strengths are leveraged, or where they are being misunderstood.