Over the last few years the Thunder Valley CDC staff has not just doubled or tripled in size, but is over ten times larger than it used to be three years ago, going from three full time employees to over 40, in addition to an annually changing Workforce Development cohort, high school mentorship program, and Youth Leadership Development Program. Our work happens at three different locations each day, one of which hosts a full blown construction site and demonstration farm. Asking a random staff member of Thunder Valley CDC what they do each day and the answers will vary from “teaching math in the Lakota language” to “feeding chickens” to “writing grants” to “building a house.”
While we are all part of one organization, spending each day dedicated to our respective departments in our own offices, classrooms, or job sites means we often don’t know our fellow employees as well as we would like. Our staff retreat this month helped to create some time and space for staff from all of our departments and programs to get to know one another, have fun, and become a stronger team. Facilitated by Seven Sisters LLC, the two-day retreat incorporated team-building exercises with working style assessments, group conversations with individual goal setting, and even a scavenger hunt.
“It was really helpful to see how everyone’s different working style fits into the organization,” said Alberta Eagle, in reference to the True Colors/Animal Spirit work-style assessment that places people in four working style categories. “It made me laugh to see everyone’s style fit so perfectly! I’m definitely a bear!”
Learning each other’s working styles is a strategy for more effective collaboration. By understanding, for example, that one coworker responds well to an itemized list with clear deadlines while another responds well to an explanation of how their contribution supports the bigger picture, interacting with one another becomes more seamless. Emotionally motivated, harmony facilitators like Blue/Deer can better understand the direct, to the point style of Orange/Buffalo, smoothing out communication difficulties and informing future approaches to collaboration.
“I think we should put the styles of each team member on our office doors,” laughs Star Means, Homeownership Programs Manager. “The retreat was really fun, and I feel like it made us closer as a team.”