Why We Now Prioritize Team Outings

Pure Adapt Team

Greg, Mike, and I a few weeks ago. I'm the tall one.

2011 has been our busiest year yet. Busy in terms of sales, but also busy in terms of work load for everyone. In February I posted about how and why we’re starting to think more about our company culture. We’re working to become more cognizant of our culture: what we’re doing currently, how that impacts the future, and whether or not we should adjust what we’re doing right now so that it aligns better with our desired future culture.

This year we’ve made it a point to have regular team outings. About once per month we’ll do something together as a team (and by “team” I mean my partners and I, along with our warehouse manager Charlie, and sometimes our part-timer’s). We’ve increasingly made these outings simple to ensure that they actually happen. We’ve found that planning elaborate nights out, while fun, inevitably become difficult to co-ordinate with everyone’s schedule and therefore don’t happen as often as intended. Aside from our yearly Holiday party, I think we’ll be dialing back on those.

Instead, we’ve been grabbing a bite after work on Monday’s, the one day when we’re all at the warehouse together. We’ll do that about once per month. About once per quarter, we’ve been scheduling weekend outings. For example, in the winter we went to lunch and a college basketball game, and each of us brought along their significant other. A few weeks back we went to Dinosaur BBQ and a minor league baseball game. We’re hoping to do a hike in the fall.

The busier we are, the more important these outings become. We tend to obsess about what we need to improve upon, what we need to do even better than we’re currently doing it. And while that’s one of the things that has helped us succeed, it’s also generally focused on what we’re doing wrong and not on what we’re doing right. The reality is that we do a lot more stuff right than we do wrong. These outings help us take a step back and say “wow, look at what our hard work has led to”.

It’s also critical to us that these outings became regular now, while we’re still small. In the next 6 – 8 months we will be hiring at least two people, and as many as five. There will be at least one full-timer in that group, as well as some part-timers and contractors. As we introduce these new people into our company, we want these outings to be a solid part of the culture. By having fun together in a relaxed setting, outside of a fast-paced work environment, we all develop better relationships with each other…which ultimately results in a more enjoyable and productive job.

I do find it interesting how being a business owner has evolved over time. In the beginning, we were just trying to make enough to live. Then, the focus became growth and efficiency. And while we’re still trying to grow and be efficient, we’ve now entered a phase where hiring, teamwork, and culture will become integral components in whether we do or don’t succeed in 2012 and beyond.

4 comments on Why We Now Prioritize Team Outings

  1. Tim says:

    Really interesting post, it has been amazing watching your companies evolve over the last 4+ years. From literally working out of a basement and almost scraping to get by, to functioning like a well oiled machine, planning short and long term growth, developing culture. You guys are well on your way to becoming an “over night success” with my previous business I would hate people thinking that, yes we grew fairly quickly and developed into a very profitable and efficient organization but it took over a decade of fighting and struggling to get to that point – it’s amazing how people forget all of the blood sweat and tears that go into making a business truly successful. Now to your post, what made me think of my previous business was this moral and general team building was totally lacking, in part because I was younger and naive, but also the dynamic from the family business is just not favorable to this type of outing. Had we made time to do stuff like this more often I think our growing pains would have been easier to cope with. I can’t wait to revisit this blog in 5-10 years, little things compounded over long periods of time equates to enormous success 🙂

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Thanks Tim!

      That’s how the “overnight success” stories always work…usually there’s years and years behind the success. It’s one of those myths of entrepreneurship that I feel does a lot of damage – people give up on good businesses because they don’t immediately become enormously successful.

  2. Dale says:

    Dinosaur BBQ was one of the best BBQ places I ever at at! I’d actually love to eat there again after my foray into the BBQ industry, but it was awesome.

    Great to hear as usual the progression of your company. It’s interesting to see how your corporate experience affects how you run your business. I doubt entrepreneurs who have never had corporate experience know to focus on things like culture. Someone may tell him later, but you seem to just know to do it.

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Haha yea Dino BBQ is one of my favorites. I buy the sauces and use them at home on all sorts of stuff. Really high quality, all natural ingredients. We were so pumped that they opened one around here finally!

      Our corporate experience definitely helps us. I’m glad that I’ve gotten to work in a lot of different organizations. As I’m sure you’ve seen it makes a huge difference when you’re working on a team where everyone gets along and puts in equal effort.

      That said, you might be giving us a little too much credit 🙂 We’ve definitely made our missteps and ignored cultural problems we probably shouldn’t have. At least we’re getting on top of it now.

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