By Zach Taylor
A few weeks ago, Brendle Group had our biannual staff retreat. We spent the day discussing our 5 and 10 year strategic plan (more information on that to be released), individual employee goals, and general future of the company. Even though this was a full day of activity, the agenda also included time for team building. Looking back it is exciting to see that the lessons that came out of our team building exercises were as important as the other topics we discussed at the retreat.
One of the team building exercise we participated in was constructing a tent – simple enough for a crew of Colorado outdoor enthusiasts. Still, we all felt pretty silly marching out to the Alliance Center parking lot smack dab in the middle of downtown Denver with bandanas and camping gear in tow. I was lucky enough to be chosen to facilitate the exercise rather than participate. So I got to sit back and grin while the directions were given.
Everyone was split into teams of five (making three teams total) with one person from each team acting as the project manager. The other four members for each team were instructed to use their bandana to blindfold themselves. What happened next was mostly chaos – as you’d expect.
To my surprise, the chaos quickly died down as the team leaders put together a plan and started handing out marching orders. I found that their directions became more specific as they discovered the abilities and limitations of each teammate – even to the point of explaining how big of a step a blindfolded teammate needed to take. Our makeshift campground slowly formed – I must say it was a beautiful sight.
During the exercise recap, people voiced their appreciation for project managers – it gets tricky giving directions and keeping all the steps straight for a group of unique individuals. We talked about how challenging it was for the blindfolded crew to stay still and wait for their directions. It’s difficult to trust your project manager has everything under control when you can’t see all the pieces. We also talked about the challenges of describing or understanding something very technical to people with varying skills and abilities. These all apply to our daily routine at Brendle Group. Projects are kicked off and sometimes that can feel like chaos. But then the project managers quickly wrangle the team and everyone settles into their various areas of expertise. We trust our colleagues and collaborate on each step along the way. What results is always something that makes us proud.
Team building goes beyond responding to individual tasks and giving others orders. It’s more than establishing a pecking order, with projects moving up the preverbal food chain – and more importantly that’s not how Brendle Group operates. It’s a true collaboration, with each person helping their team move towards a goal – even if that goal is constructing a tent in downtown Denver.
About the author – As an Engineer Zach contributes numerous skills in energy efficiency, renewable energy, carbon analysis, engineering design, and program development to the Brendle Group team. In addition, Zach works on a range of energy and water assessment projects. He analyzes utility data, conducts energy efficiency assessments, identifies efficiency opportunities, and develops cost savings and payback estimates for a variety of commercial clients. Zach also performs cost-savings analyses and measurement and verification on projects related to building equipment tune-up opportunities. Zach comes to Brendle Group after his position as an intern and technical fellow at Southface Energy Institute in Atlanta, Georgia.