'm not really one for team building activities. Commando crawls in muddy parks don't really appeal, and I'm not sure that paintball brings the best out of anyone. I prefer to nurture my team on a regular basis. Coffee, cake and catching up in a neutral environment is more my style. But, always open to new ideas - and never one to turn down the opportunity to pick up an axe - I was engrossed in a recent conversation about the benefits of spoon circles. Bear with me - you'll see where I'm going.
Spoon carving is a hobby that is growing in popularity. Here in the UK alone, there are now a number of festivals dedicated to the craft. And it attracts people from all walks of life. You definitely don't have to live in the woods to be able to create something beautiful.
But it's not all about the fun. Spoons can help you build your team, too. Carving a spoon involves a range of stages, each demanding different skills: choosing a piece of wood and deciding your spoon shape call for creativity and research; using axes and knives means applying technical skills; keeping all your fingers requires concentration; and knowing when to stop demands self discipline. And at the heart of the activity, keeping the campfire going involves a collaborative approach.
All these skills are important in any team. But what's more important is the change in dynamic that putting a team into a new situation creates. No longer are the usual suspects the centre of attention - they may have never used an axe in that way before. Instead, other members of the team can shine. And crucially, all members of the team can find their place in this new world. Fears and worries are shared, and often shed, as individuals explore their own capabilities and witness how their colleagues negotiate the spoon-making process. And people often open up, sharing more about their lives away from work than you've ever found out before.
And what do you get out of this? As well as learning a new skill - and getting the benefits of being outside for the day - you'll be more connected to your team and gain a new understanding of what makes them tick. And though you may not talk shop while you're carving, when you're back in the real world, you'll be able to use what you've learned about your team - and what they've learned about each other - to assign priorities more effectively and create new opportunities for collaboration. A win-win situation.
Spoon carving around a campfire really can work wonders.
If you're convinced, why not check out Green Aspirations Scotland? If you're not based locally they'll be able to recommend other great spoon carvers!