Athlete Assessments tackles the challenges of indoor rock climbing for its first 2019 Team Day

By Mim Haigh, Sports Writer – Athlete Assessments

Every team needs to set aside time to re-connect, review goals and revisit values. Athlete Assessments is no different. We have four Team Days a year and the first one for 2019 saw us rock climbing, getting to know each other a little better from a DISC perspective and making some tough “Decisions” over a lunch menu!

Laren Dyer, our Head of Operations summed up the day’s success when he said, “our first team day of 2019 was a great opportunity for us to reflect on the past year and re-set our focus on the next twelve months”. Abby Kay, Head of Marketing and Design said, “I always love that our Team Days start by revisiting the important stuff – our company values! It’s a great opportunity to regroup and see how everyone is travelling in their department.”

Our Team Day format works for us. Our Senior Consultant, Bo Hanson, facilitated the formal part of the day, keeping it informal. It was fast paced, fluid and moved swiftly allowing input from each team member. The entire part took a little over an hour. During this session, Liz Hanson, CEO, gave a brief overview of our business and financial milestones, followed by the key strategies for the year ahead. She said, “Team Days are a great way to introduce new team members to our culture, ensure they have a good strong connection with their colleagues and a working knowledge of every aspect of the business. We’re growing at a consistent rate of 20%, so we’ve regularly got a new face in the office.”

The team took turns to share what we’re each currently working on giving rise to the potential for future collaboration, on a technical and non-technical basis.

Still within the hour, Bo took us through a session that he runs for some of the teams he works with. The activity allowed us to evaluate our current position and where we would like to be moving forward. There was significant alignment in our answers.

The activity was a great way to quickly check that our organization’s values were current, relevant and livable. The simple activity gave us a list which we cross checked with our core values of Love Sport, High Performance and Serve. And, as a final step, we checked that what we’re doing now will lead to what we want to do in the future.

An interesting and fun part of the session was when we each shared the key things to know about us from a DISC perspective and the value that we bring to our role and the team. Bo brought great insight to this conversation, highlighting the way people are applying the strong well-matched parts of their behavioral profile to their role and adapting as needed in each necessary moment.

Also, listening to other team members talk about the ways they’re working on low scoring aspects of their profiles was really inspiring and prompted me to want to try different strategies, both inside and outside of my role with Athlete Assessment to work on my own growth areas.

When we wrapped up the formal part of the session, it was off to the Rockit Climbing Gym for some team time on the wall. Everyone was looking forward to it, there’s some pretty competitive characters in our office.

On the serious side, activities lead learning, so we chose rock climbing for our Team Day because, in addition to the fun factor, its lessons are relevant and parallel experiences in the business world. I’ll combine Liz’s insights and explanations with team member out-takes so you get a feel for the activity and its effect on our team.

Explaining the set-up of the climbing activity, Liz says, “everyone needs an anchor. We worked in pairs, one climber, and one person holding the rope acting as an anchor and guide. Each time we climbed, we did a safety check, this included pulling the rope tight checking all connections and equipment. This became a routine needed to be able to trust the equipment and our partner. You can’t skip this phase as it depends on trust.”

Everyone found this partnership valuable. For example, Darryn Dyer our Assistant Business Manager said, “no one can physically help you through the climb, but the mental support and direction your anchor gives you, makes reaching the top a whole lot easier.”

Sean Grierson, Assistant Accountant, also found himself relying on his anchor to plot a faster rise to the top. He said, “having strong clear communication from your partner allows you to reach that next step fast enough before your arms give out and you can no longer climb any further. I’ve very quickly realized that it’s just as much about technique as having someone below you to help you out.

Our newest team member, Tylah King-Paul perfectly summed up the connection between activities and building a capacity for skills when she said, “one theme that continually showed up from our discussions was support, and the support we demonstrate towards each other. So, to then go and physically support each other in the rock climbing activity was a really cool experience.”

After support, Liz then recognized the team’s need to rest. She said, “know when to rest. With the difficult climbs, your hands and fingers would become fatigued and if you pushed on, you were bound to fall from the wall. When you found a spot on the wall with good grip, you could get your breath back, settle your mind, refocus and then move on… So, rest when you get the chance, you’ll need it”.

And, here’s why… Liz says, When it gets hard, hang on. As you climbed you could see the powdered hand prints on the wall and realized that someone else had been there before. Very much like our growing business. Someone has done your job before and you’re not alone. Effectively, because Bo and I started the business from scratch, one of us has done your job before.”

She says, “take the wall one step at a time. Just like breaking down a big goal, we take one step at a time”.

Interestingly, Liz observed, “for most of the time we worked in pairs where you had the person on the ground to support you. There was one wall that you could do by yourself with a special pulley that did the job of the person on the ground. The interesting thing was that even though the equipment did the same job, I didn’t feel as safe as having a personal support. The emotional and encouraging support made a difference. If you had a sound recording of the activity, you would have heard a lot of shouts of encouragement.”

“Also, the people on the ground had a different perspective to the climber and they could see the entire wall. Their advice and direction were needed, as the person on the wall often couldn’t see what would be the best next step. Having a structure, plan and approach for each wall was also helpful.”

And, importantly, she says, sometimes it does ‘suck’… when Sean finished a difficult wall, there was pain in getting it done… just like life… ‘Getting knocked down is life. Getting back up is living.’

Rock climbing also demonstrated DISC in action, Laren says, “from a team building and DISC perspective, rock climbing can teach you a lot. You have to trust that your partner keeps you secure and provides you with effective communication when you’re navigating through difficult sections of the wall. There are many different paths to the top, but not all of those paths may be suitable for you! Stick to your strengths and trust your team mate to provide you with feedback.

Bo said that the activity built even more trust for him. It was a practical demonstration of the team’s individual and collective qualities. He said, “the rock climbing experience was great for our team as it was a unique experience that we hadn’t done together before. It was an activity which physically and mentally challenged us and also challenged the way we support and help each other. Climbing gives a great reward when you make it to the top, but it’s also rewarding when you see a team member who gets further than they did on their previous attempt or just keeps trying till their fingers give out through fatigue. For me, this built even more trust in my team as every one of them gives their best effort to whatever it is you throw at them. I genuinely admire this and find it personally inspiring. This is what I loved about my rowing crews… people who were trying to be their best. I feel we have created this within our team. Today it shone through.”

After the climb, the team took a well-earned lunch at “Decisions” Cafe. The menu includes both super healthy and super unhealthy meals. As the name suggests, the choice is yours and we all had big decisions to make. It was an excellent and fun way to wrap up a great day.

Where to from here…

At Athlete Assessments, we are the experts in the ‘people side’ of sport. While we’re best known for our athlete profiling and sports team consulting using the AthleteDISC, CoachDISC and Sports ManagerDISC, we do more than just Assessments. Athlete Assessments Services include Sport Specific DISC Profiles, Performance Reviews, Team Consulting, Program Reviews, Keynote Speaking, Events & Professional Development Programs.

At Athlete Assessments we’re here to provide you with excellence in service and to help you be your best. If there is anything we can do to be of service, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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