Want to lift your team to a new level? Take on a challenge together!

Roman Zelenka

Roman Zelenka

21. 3. 2018

Anyone at the head of a company wants to have the best team possible, full of motivated members, all pulling in the same direction – toward a goal that matters to the group. As the CEO at ZELENKA, I had the chance to see this happen in front of my own eyes.

Our company culture has always been rich with everyday teambuilding activities, like summer grill parties, company sports tournaments, and family fun days for kids. On top of being a lot of fun, afterhours activities like these have really helped us improve working relationships and the environment in the office.

After seeing how well this approach worked, my team and I began looking for ways to take these activities to new levels. From organizing an office-wide eco-challenge to biking weekends with translators, there never seems to be a shortage of ideas for what to do next.

And right now, as the temperatures drop for a long winter, I’m reminded of the time my team came together on a summer day to do something not only special, but truly meaningful as well. Some of us are quite active, while others are exploring ways to join in, yet all the same it meant so much to me to see half of my people agree on a single goal: WE WERE GOING TO RUN A HALF-MARATHON TOGETHER.

But it didn’t stop there. This run wouldn’t be about personal bests or breaking records – we were taking on this challenge as a team, and for a good cause. Our group’s goal was to help 6 local disabled children participate in the race while raising money for the organization that offers them support. And that, ladies and gentleman, is why I will never forget what they did and what it taught me.

What I learned: before, during and after:

  1. A challenge like this helps reduce stress at work by giving everyone something interesting to think about and discuss.
  2. It offers numerous places to test their abilities to cooperate and you can learn a lot from the roles they naturally assume in that process.
  3. Each individual takes the challenge seriously and doesn’t want to let the team down by being the weakest link. In this case, it meant everyone was training hard.
  4. This type of challenge always comes with a certain level of suffering (even if it is for a good cause), and suffering together naturally strengthens relationships.
  5. The race gave everyone a chance to connect more casually and honestly. After all, it’s hard to be rigidly formal when you’re dripping with sweat.
  6. We ran for a good cause and that created a strong feeling of purpose in everyone, a fact that added to their motivation to do their absolute best.

As you can see, this whole challenge certainly gave me a lot, but the most important part is this: I realized that my team cooperated in this “battle” the same way it tackles challenges in the office. And that was a big moment for me. My initial approach was to coordinate everybody myself, but eventually I noticed a trend that our strongest runners would run ahead, pushing the wheelchairs like beasts, and then always waited for the rest of our team every 3 miles.

My sister was an inspiration as well, running the whole race with an already sprained ankle. She dug deep and pushed herself to the limits because that’s how much the team meant to her. And my parents… wow! They are both in their 60’s and not very athletic, yet they joined us from start to finish, like they had secret engines in their bodies. Amazing!

So folks, this was just one race born from one single decision that brought about something amazing in our company and created a spirit in the office that is still alive today. And the pain in our legs afterwards? That was temporary. But the pride we feel from accomplishing this together? That lasts forever. :-)

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