Fort Riley, Kansas

 

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Building blocks shaping public affairs team

By Kirk Hutchinson | FORT RILEY PUBLIC AFFAIRS | January 24, 2017

     “Put the green triangle on top of the square with the hypotenuse facing to the right.”

     Huh?

     It was a Friday afternoon and nine of us from the Fort Riley Garrison Public Affairs Office were engaged in team building activities facilitated by members of the Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness staff in the Victory Center here on post.

     Let me say this up front. I’ve always had mixed feelings when it comes to team building exercises. They often seem forced and artificial. Never once in my three-plus decades in the work force or in the Army have I needed to describe to someone how to stack some building blocks without seeing what they’re doing or guide a blindfolded person through a room to find a hidden bobble-head doll.

     My experience has generally been that you build effective teams by working together to accomplish the daily task, the real job. We can talk about what makes a good team and work through team building exercises, but the proof that you’re a team comes on the job. Football teams win national championships or Super Bowls by training as a team to win football games. Armies win wars by training as a team to win wars.

     However, here’s what I’ve also learned over the years. Most of us don’t have jobs where training to do the task as a team is what we do all day every day. We sit at our desks or go out to some duty post and do a specific task. I’m a public affairs specialist. I do public affairs stuff. During my career, I’ve been a broadcast journalist and eventually a First Sergeant in the Army, a news photographer/videographer for a television station, an on air announcer, the play-by-play voice for high school sports on a local radio station, a spokesman for the Kansas Department of Transportation and now a member of the garrison public affairs team here at Fort Riley.

     Most of those jobs called for me to do an individual task that might contribute to a team or might just be something I did on my own. So when the manager of the television station where I worked 20 years ago gathered us together for team building exercises, I rolled my eyes. I didn’t want to be buddies with the guy who was trying to take my job. Trip him, maybe, but not help him fit in better or succeed as part of our great team.

     So our public affairs office team building at CSF2 surprised me, because I found it to be a worthwhile experience. Kudos to Joe and Campbell for not only being good at their jobs, but for modeling real teamwork to us as they guided us through activities and discussion. It was also a reminder that working for a large organization with a lot of moving parts requires outstanding communication, trust in one another and a willingness to help where needed. That’s probably true in your unit or work place, too.

     No, I still don’t need to guide a blindfolded person on a search for a bobble-head or explain to a coworker on the other side of the partition how to stack blocks to match a structure only I can see, but I do need to make sure my coworker knows what I’ve told a reporter or who I’ve contacted about a particular request. What do your teammates need to know or how can you help to make all of you successful?

     By the way, the green triangle goes on top of the square with the hypotenuse facing to the left.

 

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