Want to really build a great team atmosphere in your company? Then look no further than the Stinkmitts.
The Stinkmitts, a Toronto-based co-ed softball team, are doing it right. They have an awesome Instagram account that’s portraying them, tongue-in-cheek, like a major league baseball team, complete with pre- and post-game interviews, player profiles, stats and highlights. It’s hilarious. But it’s also cool. And it’s attracted national attention. These players are not a corporate team. But they are a group of people who are bringing together all aspects of what teamwork is about. And companies that want to improve the happiness, well-being and productivity of their employees (not to mention have better employee retention) should be doing what the Stinkmitts are doing.
And what is that?
The Stinkmitts are playing a competitive sport. People like to feel like they’re part of a winning effort. And even if they lose, they can lose together with stories to tell. Your company can participate in a competitive sport too. You could have a Stinkmitts of company employees playing in a local softball league.
The league should be fun, but organized too, with umps, rules and a trophy at the end. This should not be a joke. There should be something to win, something to be proud of. When the summer’s over, your company may want to consider choosing another sport, like basketball or volleyball, to do it all over again. Or maybe you just create a whole team building campaign around the summer team. But have a company sports team that everyone can cheer for and make it a big deal.
The Stinkmitts are co-ed. They include everyone. And you should too. Your team should take things one step further. Of course there are the players, who will hopefully represent different areas of your business. But there’s a lot more that goes into the making of a successful softball team. Your accounting people should be keeping the team’s finances. Your operations people should be in charge of equipment, uniforms and scoring. Your sales and marketing group should be promoting the team on your website and social media channels just like it’s your own product. Even those that may have little interest in softball can take part by helping out on the bench, coaching a base or liaising with charities (see below). When you think about it, your team is a product made up of the people that represent your company and its values. Everyone in your company should have the chance to be part of this, regardless of whether they’re playing or not. And everyone should have fun with this, from designing the shirts to posting goofy videos on YouTube to doing a pre-game interview show on Google Hangouts on Air.
The Stinkmitts are competing for a trophy. They want to win the league. And so do you. Cough up some cash. Buy pizzas for the company the day after your team wins or just puts in a terrific effort. Offer a prize if 100% of your employees show up to a game to cheer the team on. And then take it forward yet another step.
Pick a charity or a local community group and mirror a similar promotion that companies do for big league teams. A hundred dollars every time someone from your team hits a home run or whenever your team retires the side 1-2-3 in an inning. Or a hundred dollars if your team scores more than 10 runs in a game or wins three games in a row. Or an even bigger contribution if your team – dare I say it – actually wins the league! Depending on your charity, you can have your team players visit the charity in their uniforms and sign autographs just like the big leaguers do. I bet the Stinkmitts will eventually do this. Because it’s hilarious.
The Stinkmitts are promoting themselves. They’re showing off their skills and going to the effort of doing great interviews with the team coach and players. They’re enjoying the humor of it all. And you should be doing the same. Tell the world about your team. As mentioned above, get your marketing people to advertise the team’s exploits online. Hang photos in your office. Offer a special discount to customers if your team wins the league. And don’t forget to tell your customers and community how committed your company is to the charity that the team is supporting. You’ll get favorable public relations and make your employees love you.
Yeah, your company should definitely have its own Stinkmitts. Go team!
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