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Rugby, beer and team building

The Lions tour of New Zealand came to an end at the weekend, with an unusual result – an unsatisfying draw. This is the first drawn series since 1955, in South Africa. Although it wasn’t a bad result when you consider that the All Blacks were the favourites.

As a South African who has been living in the UK for over 18 years, you might be forgiven for wondering whether I support the British and Irish Lions. The truth is, that as long as it’s not a match against South Africa, I will always root for England.

This tour started me thinking about how important it is for a team to work well together, in business as well as in sport.

The Lions start out unfamiliar with each other – they’re not a team at the start of the series and they need to bond quickly to enable them to play well together. Famously, the management are happy for the squad to drink while they’re on tour. They recognise that bonding over a beer after a tough game is an important factor in getting the team to gel.

It’s the same in business, isn’t it? While you don’t hire people based on whether you’d like to go for a drink with them, the truth is that if you and your team do head to the pub occasionally after work, then that will often help to oil the teamwork wheels and keep things on track.

And when you’re looking to recruit someone new, you need to look at your existing team before you start the hiring process. How will this new person fit into your team? Do they have skills and experience that complement the ones your current staff have?

If you already have weaknesses or gaps within the team then hiring someone who can fill in some of those gaps is a good idea.

If you’re not recruiting at the moment, but you want your staff to improve the way they work together, then it’s a good idea to make it clear that this is a priority. It should be something you focus on, as a team that work well together will be more productive and provide a better service for your clients.

One way you can prioritise this is to include “teamwork” in your regular appraisals, so staff are clear on the fact that this is an important element of their role.

It’s vital to create an environment of mutual trust and respect, and give your team the freedom to make decisions, to make mistakes occasionally and to learn from them, and to grow and progress in their roles.

And don’t forget those all important drinks after work occasionally – it’s part and parcel of making your team feel valued and helping them to bond over something other than work. After all, it works for the Lions – they may not have won the series, but they were very much a team by the end of it.

If you’d like to find out how our team could help with your next project, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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