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Building A Team Is Like a Barrel of Monkeys

Developing the culture in a fast growing company takes time, patience, and trust among team members. The key is recognizing the talents of your team and like a barrel of monkeys carefully make connections between individuals and the common goals they share. You can’t play barrel of monkeys if you don’t know the rules, what…

Developing the culture in a fast growing company takes time, patience, and trust among team members. The key is recognizing the talents of your team and like a barrel of monkeys carefully make connections between individuals and the common goals they share. You can’t play barrel of monkeys if you don’t know the rules, what resources you need, or if you don’t have any feedback on how you are playing.

Forgot how to play barrel of monkeys? Here’s how:

Dump the monkeys onto the table. Pick up one monkey by the arm and hook the other arm through a second monkey’s arm. Continue making a chain until all monkeys are connected. Your turn is over when you drop a monkey.

When you pick up the first monkey it’s easy to link the second and third monkey. As the chain gets longer with six or seven monkeys, the chain begins to sway and the pace of making connections with the next monkey slows down. The most successful players of barrel of monkeys have and understand five key concepts:

1. Established goals- they know how to play

2. Established expectations-they understand the rules of the games

3. Resources-they have 12 monkeys in a barrel

4. Feedback- Understand the importance of making a connection and adjust technique and strategy according to the response of the last connection

5. Recognition-they connect all 12 monkeys in success or they drop a monkey and start over

These five concepts are not only important when playing barrel of monkeys but they are the keys to developing the culture of any organization. The Harvard Business Review said it best in their July-August 2011 issue where the spotlight article was on building a culture of trust and innovation based on collaboration.

“Interdependent processes are shaped more by people involved in the task than by those at the top.”

When building a team once goals, expectations, resources, feedback and recognition are established the execution of the processes are molded by the people on the team. Imagine if as a kid while playing barrel of monkeys your mom told you that you were doing it wrong when she has never played.  Doesn’t really motivate you to keep playing, does it? Cultivating an environment based on shared ideas to achieve a common goal is certain to keep all the monkeys connected on the chain.

WHAT’S MORE FUN THAN A BARREL OF MONKEYS?

RECOGNITION for connecting all 12 monkeys without dropping one from the team! A team on the court, on the field, or a team in the office, recognizes that there is something about giving that high five, a pat on the back, and even the occasional “good game” that fosters a culture of trust and success.  Just like in the game, recognition is a feedback mechanism that contributes to the development of the culture. The sitcom The Office is proof of how feedback mechanisms impacts office culture.

The Office had the Dundie Awards which was their way of recognizing their employees for ridiculous achievements like the “whitest sneakers.” Despite the awards’ over the top humorous achievements, Dunder Mifflin employees still were excited to be recognized for something they accomplished. Unfortunately, this contributed to an office culture where ridiculous individual achievements were “high five-ed.” It’s very hard to connect 12 monkeys with the chain violently swaying back and forth with the monkeys swaying in different directions. The chain needs to be still and the monkeys need to be carefully connected working to make the last connection.

Is your barrel of monkeys swaying back and forth on the verge of dropping a team member or is it quiet with careful connections ready to keep all team members connected?


FULFILLMENT AWARDS RECOGNIZES BARREL OF MONKEY MAVENS

The Fulfillment Awards is our opportunity to recognize the iAcquire Production team using excitement and humor to say “thank you for your hard work.”  The Awards Ceremony creates an atypical office atmosphere packed with fist pumping music played by our resident DJ’s, comedy skits, costumes, and plenty of nonstop entertainment.  The team designed deliberate, yet comical awards to portray individual and team achievements. Awards like:

  • Sexy Beast Award- Beauty and the Beast dolls nailed to a plaque exemplifying the individual on the team that placed the most “sexy media” for the month. Jenna H. was last month’s SEXY BEAST winner!
  • Sixth Man Award- glorifies a B-Ballin’ Justin Bieber doll, ready to shoot the “J,” that is glued to wooden podium. This coveted award goes to the team player in fulfillment that puts the team ahead of all else. Sylvia L. won this award in March for her extraordinary efforts in leaving the “I” out of TEAM.
  • Team of the Month Award-three teams go head-to-head all month working on exceeding new outreach goals, total outreach goals, and quality placement standards. Link-o-holics and Writers Bloc teams fought tooth and nail for the month of March but in the end the Hustlin’ Honey Badgers emerged victorious!

The best part about the awards is that it establishes a precedent where collaboration and team work are recognized. You cannot be successful in barrel of monkeys without solid connections and without each piece working together. This is exactly why building a team is like a Barrel of Monkeys.


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