For years we’ve had new employees participate in an orientation to gain a greater understanding of our Shamrock. This generally happens six months after an employee has been with us. New employees experience a daylong session to learn about each department, how we integrate among departments to achieve specific goals, and how we effectively work with one another. Not exactly camp, but it does bring new employees and Shamrock veterans closer together; and it gives new employees a chance to ask questions to better understand how our business works.
We also have Fish Camp for new employees, which defines for them our Culture, Values and Corporate Philosophy. Fish Camp — a total immersion into our culture — is held once or twice a year, depending on the number of new employees we’ve hired that year. I always hear from employees how much they enjoy Fish Camp. It’s fun, interactive and exciting.
In a sense, these camp-like experiences are a form of team building, similar to our summer events, which have included my favorite: a Shamrock Family Day at the Cleveland Zoo. We’ve also enjoyed Behind the Fence baseball parties at Indians games, and Family Day at Swings-N-Things Family Fun Park. Such types of events bring employees and their families together for a day that includes participating in a family-friendly environment, along with the opportunity to see people we work with in a more relaxed setting.
Some companies take team building one step further and have a structured business summer camp. These camp-like environments are usually off-premise and organized to include specific business goals and objectives with clearly defined end results. I like the idea of a planned summer camp and plan to give it serious thought for the future.
Thoughtful planning for this type of event is the most essential part, and I would want input from Shamrock’s management team to decide the best use of our “camp time.” For example, if we conducted a summer camp, it would be a good idea to decide if we want it to reward staff for a good year or if we want a program designed to overcome a specific situation, such as eliminating communication barriers between departments. If our goal would be to build better relationships between departments, we might plan events that include formally mixing people from various departments in groups and/or at tables during mealtimes. If this isn’t developed in the planning stage, employees might naturally sit with their department colleagues and friends, which would work against our objective.
It’s also a good idea to determine if planning can be done in-house or if a professional business coach should be involved. For a simple day-away reward, in-house planning would definitely serve the purpose. However, if the retreat is more intense, it’s a good idea to hire an outside consultant with years of planning skills that clearly match the desired outcomes we want to achieve.
ONE LAST THING…
Regardless of the objective for summer camp, I believe the retreat should be a pleasurable experience and a new way for employees to think about collaborating with one another to develop essential workplace skills such as leadership, trust, communication and personal growth.