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The HMA team works as a group to reach the top. Afterwards, the team tanned their stark-white legs together.

Earlier this month, we took our entire team off-site for a great day of learning and fun at our HMA Teambuilding Retreat. Leading up to the big day, we asked you – our friends, followers, likers and colleagues – to share with us how you build a team or what you have learned as a result of teambuilding activities. We got some great input, which we are happy to share below, along with some of our own thoughts:


  • Scott Hanson: The very first step in building a team is hiring the right people; those who will fit into the company culture.  Then it is important to play to your team’s strengths, allowing each member to contribute at what they are best.  And having fun doing it is essential.
  • Abbie S. Fink: A few things resonated with me at our HMA retreat. It is important to know what “story” each person on your team is bringing to the table.  It is that insight that can help you better build your team around certain projects.  It may not always be about the end-result but more about how you get there.  Sometimes you have to look back at where you came from to figure out how to move forward.  Each of us has a role to play in the success of the organization.  And although we may all want to “win” we have to recognize others and help them “win,” too.  Oh, and Scott does a pretty good job with burgers on the grill.
  • Kendra Schultz: One of my takeaways was that we need to make time to see each other, instead of being so wrapped up in work in our individual offices. While it’s great to work independently, part of being a team is bouncing ideas off of each other, having another set of eyes to look something over, and of course, time to gossip and talk about our weekends. The HMA people are consummate professionals, but we also know how to have fun and try to incorporate that into our daily routine!
  • Alison Bailin: I learned that I am my entire self, and each person in the office his her/his entire self, when they walk through the office door each day. Don’t pretend that you are not bringing your own life experiences and lens into the office – and take the time to learn about the full person in the office next door. Build your team based on whole people – not tactical and work-focused strengths alone. Oh, I also learned that Stephanie is as competitive as me. Think “Monica Geller” from Friends – then multiple it by two.
  • Brittany Richardson: I learned that our past is what makes us who we are today. I also learned that we all want more time together outside of the office. I think this will be a very beneficial way to learn more about each other. Can’t wait for bowling!
  • Stephanie Lough: I think the most important part of team building is to understand who your teammates are as people, not just professionals. Everyone has a story that shaped who they are today, and even having just a little insight into other’s lives can help a team strengthen its bond. Even if you can’t relate, you can try to understand. It is through understanding that helps individuals function as a team – everyone is more cognizant of his or her teammates' strengths and weaknesses, and how they reason and operate. I think a lot of the time we forget our co-workers are people with lives outside the workplace and what you think is a priority may not be as important to them. And of course – every great team can work together and play together, so don’t forget to have fun while in the company of your company. I also learned that I am the best at the grapevine and kick-ball-changing compared to my fellow HMAers – Alison better watch out if she plans on winning anymore “friendly” office competitions!
  • Mike Shaldjian: First and foremost is mutual respect for our teammates. Without that, nothing will penetrate. At Media Watch AZ we’ve created an environment of “ownership” thru empowerment & reward. I trust & encourage our staff to make certain decisions on their own and never browbeat anyone for making a wrong choice, but use it as a learning experience. We all celebrate in the successes around here. No one of us is more responsible for those accomplishments than the other. We rise or fall as a team.
  • Ashley Oakes: At Zion & Zion we are like a big family. We work together and we play together. This has helped us have a better feel for each other’s personalities to use in our work environment.  We do lots of team activities such as weekly happy hours or lunches, day during the summer where we close down the office and everyone goes to the lake on the office boat & jet skiis, staycation for our holiday party, and the freedom to go to networking events together. We have learned that an office that gets along and appreciates each other’s qualities becomes a team that works fluidly on projects together. Our owners have paid attention to what areas we excel in and make sure that we are assigned to projects that complement our skills. With everyone comfortable with one another, processes are streamlined and we are more open on areas that we could help each other grow.
  • Yvette Roeder: I work with the best people in my workplace. They are professional, hard-working, genuine people, who never forget to inject a sense of humor in a work day. We have potlucks every month with a theme, usually celebrating the birthdays for the month. These lunch events encourage us to “break bread” and get to know each other in a more personal level (but not too personal). For me, it helps me appreciate my co-workers even more…in a professional and personal level. I think these simple events are always appreciated by our team and makes our team more cohesive and effective. Plus, we all gain weight together, so there’s no hating because someone’s skinny. : )
  • Mimi Meredith: One of my favorite ways to improve a team is to reconsider how and what it communicates. Until people learn how to truly understand one another, much can be lost in the transmission of information we are sure we made perfectly clear. Still more resources can be misdirected because of different interpretations of goals and objectives; different application of values or a variety of fears that inhibits teammates from risking full engagement. So basically, (because I know you’re always dying to know what I think) I believe most team building exercises are a bunch of hooey until you all truly understand the dynamics of great communication.
  • Jane Stimmel: We’ve done friendly competitions like bowling, Wii bowling combined with business planning sessions. It is also great to volunteer together especially with people you don’t know very well, you can learn a lot about one another! And people love food so have something with food, always!!
  • Adam Nollmeyer: I think the "trust fall" is always a good exercise!
  • Carol Bailin: It all starts with weekly trips to Carlos O’Brien’s. I kid – but really, for my “office culture,” we are all about getting out of the office and talking to each other on non-work topics at least twice a month. Yes, we do it over spinach dip and margaritas, but still!


Now it's your turn: How do you build a team or what you have learned as a result of teambuilding activities? Please share in the comments below.

Alison Bailin
Alison Bailin
Senior Account Executive Alison has a lot to say…about pretty much everything...all the time. From the current state of public relations to the social media impact on Shark Week to crisis communications in the sports world, Alison’s blogs are focused on “amusing through her PR musings,” and then some. Check out Alison's full bio

1 Comment

  1. Stephanie Lough says:

    Hey Scott- When can we take the company boat and jet-skis out on the lake? (see A-Oak’s comment)

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