Understanding, Bonding and Appreciating

Jean Wong, Senior Executive, Legal and Secretariat, CapitaLand Malaysia shares candidly about her first-ever Teambuilding Event at the Pearl of the Orient, Penang

Issue: Feb 2014

Me (2nd row, 1st from left) at my first-ever teambuilding event with her colleagues to the Pearl of the Orient, Penang
Me (2nd row, 1st from left) at my first-ever teambuilding event with her colleagues to the Pearl of the Orient, Penang

Waking up exceptionally early in the morning can be dreary for me. However, it was not the same on 19 September 2013. That day was different. Full of enthusiasm on a Thursday morning, I hopped off the bed, ran to freshen up, dress up and checked that I have brought all necessities with me, for the next 3 days.

No, I was not going for a holiday nor was I going to visit my relatives back in my home town. I was going for my first-ever team building event at the Pearl of the Orient, Penang, and what's equally exciting was that I was selected as part of the organising team!

Months of efforts were put into planning and preparing for this event. Besides my team, we had the pleasure of several senior management personnel from Singapore and colleagues from other business units join us for this eventful trip. Therefore, logistics, venue, managing arrival times of different people from different locations, and selecting the right team building programme were some of the pertinent matters to arrange. Initially, I was quite concerned as I had no prior experience in organising such events. Nevertheless, this was an important task and my chance to contribute to the organisation in reinforcing CapitaLand’s core values within our business unit. It would not be a teambuilding if there was no team to build, hence it is of paramount importance to ensure that most, if not all invitees would be able to join, and the effectiveness of the teambuilding would only be as good as the people selected to conduct it.

Day 1 : Really, Get Set, Go….

The day started with us assembling in our office, whilst we waited patiently for the tour bus to ferry us to our destination, Penang! Sounds of laughter and chatter filled the cool and chilly morning air as everyone was lighthearted and looking forward to a fun filled trip ahead. Apart from being a team building event, it would also be a gastronomic escapade for most of us as Penang is known for its delicious local cuisines.

Massaging the person in front of and behind you was an activity aimed at getting everyone to be at ease with one another
Massaging the person in front of and behind you was an activity aimed at getting everyone to be at ease with one another

By noon, after we arrived in Penang after a very tantalising lunch, it was time to get down to business. Our external teambuilding facilitator started off the session by giving a briefing of what we were to expect from following day’s team activities and the highlight of our team building trip, the Explorace. Thereafter, a mini icebreaking session commenced. Although feeling heavy from a full lunch, we were all geared up to start on our icebreaking game. We were required to form a circle while standing close to each other and then take turns giving a “thai” massage to the person standing in front of us. This was repeated by changing direction and doing the same to the person who was standing behind you. The meeting room was filled with laughter when Phuah (our very resourceful and witty finance assistant) had a once in a lifetime privilege of being given a massaged by our Managing Director, Mr Lim Wie Shan. It was definitely a heartfelt moment seeing all team members participating in this fun filled activity, including Mr Lim who was such a great sport.

Us stopping over at the roadside for a durian feast
Us stopping over at the roadside for a durian feast

The next icebreaker required us to stay within the same circle that was created earlier, while singing the song called “My Bonnie”. Whenever we sang the word “Bonnie”, we were required to sit on the lap of the person behind us. Everyone within the circle had to perform this together as a team, otherwise the circle would fall apart. In view that we were all different in weight and height, the challenge of this game is to overcome the fear of having colleagues who were taller and/or bigger to sit on the lap of a smaller-sized colleague. This game was designed to inculcate the sense of camaraderie and trust, and the true strength of teamwork as the Malay proverb goes “bersatu teguh, bercerai roboh” .

Needless to say, outside our usual working environment, it encouraged me to see colleagues from all levels coming together in creating a tighter bond.

The day’s agenda ended with a road side stop over for a durian eating session at one of the busiest streets in the heart of Penang city. Overall, the first day was fun and easy-going. The motivating icebreaking activities had really inspired us to look forward to our Explorace the following day.

Day 2 : And the Race begins…..

On the second day of the trip, we were blessed with very good weather.

For the Explorace event, we were taken to Georgetown, and were divided into four groups. In a nutshell, the Explorace required us to explore the Heritage City area in Georgetown and work together as teams to identify four well-known tourist spots via riddles. Thereafter we had to complete the specially designed obstacle upon reaching each destination. This is on top of locating well-known art murals and local delicacies within the heritage site. It was indeed a grueling activity as no transportation was provided. Our legs became our only form of transportation for this Explorace!

The most memorable obstacle for me was at the Fort Cornwallis station, whereby strings were tied across the pillars like a spider web and each team member was required to pass through a hole of the spider web without touching or breaking the web. This obstacle involves a lot of co-ordination and strategising among the team members to ensure that everyone passes through the web. After performing this obstacle, I have learnt that no one can complete a task on his or her own and it was vital that we trusted our team members.

My team members and I: Christie Pun, Joyce Loh, Mr Poon, Jo Ann, Corinne Tan, Fong Hin and Zhi Wei
My team members and I: Christie Pun, Joyce Loh, Mr Poon, Jo Ann, Corinne Tan, Fong Hin and Zhi Wei
I was “kicked” by Bruce Lee in Georgetown! This is one of the many murals found at the Heritage City area in Georgetown
I was “kicked” by Bruce Lee in Georgetown! This is one of the many murals found at the Heritage City area in Georgetown

Throughout the Explorace, all the members had to work together as a team to complete the obstacles in all the identified tourist spots within a stipulated time. This experience has allowed us to understand ourselves as well as our team members’ strengths and weaknesses. It has also taught us to discover ways to work together more effectively by leveraging on our interpersonal differences. In addition, my experience in the Explorace has helped me to set a positive mindset to face challenges at work, stay focus on my responsibilities, take calculated risks in making decisions, and to learn to support others with simple and inspiring tools. In my opinion, the Explorace helped to reinforce and remind us of one of our six core values - People : Our people are our strength. We build people to build for people. This is because the obstacle required us to exhibit leadership, teamwork, trust and commitment to the team.

(Left) The whole team is enjoying the famous ice lacing and asam laksa after the Explorace; (Right) Another memorable obstacle, unbroken chain
(Left) The whole team is enjoying the famous ice lacing and asam laksa after the Explorace; (Right) Another memorable obstacle, unbroken chain

Although my team didn’t manage to clinch the first position in this race, everyone who participated came out winners because better team spirit was achieved through this process. This is definitely a more meaningful achievement for us.

After a long and grueling day of going through obstacles and being subjected to the heat of the sun beating against our skin, our scrumptious buffet dinner was a welcoming sight. The best part of dinner was that there was free flow of wine. Everybody was tired but happy.

Day 3 : Returning home as happy campers

Leaping for joy at Lone Pine, the hotel we stayed in, even though we were suffering from sunburn and body aches
Leaping for joy at Lone Pine, the hotel we stayed in, even though we were suffering from sunburn and body aches

I woke up with a body ache and sunburn on my forehead, but I was happy. There was certainly an air of positive vibes among us colleagues after the teambuilding event and I hope that this will continue. After breakfast, we packed and boarded the bus back to Kuala Lumpur.

On reflection, the few months of hard work finally paid off when the teambuilding received good feedback from our colleagues. I had a wonderful time and I believed all who attended this teambuilding event had fond memories as well. I have personally gained better understand of one of our company’s value: “People. Our people are our strength. We build people to build for people.”

This article is contributed by Jean Wong, Senior Executive, Legal and Secretariat, CapitaLand Commercial (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd

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