Putting the tea into team-building

There was a time when they could be seen in offices, boardrooms, kitchens and foyers at workplaces across the land.

Encased in plastic frames, and featuring backgrounds of random scenery, the posters carried messages aimed at motivating and directing staff involved in everything from widget-making to waste management.

There’s no I in team. Assume makes an ass out of u and me. And one-worders such as Dedication, Attitude, and Leadership.

team poster

Picture: Peelandstickposters.com

In the end, they became unwitting parodies of themselves.

And they’ve bred a whole new set of much truer to life versions.

There are some great ones on despair.com including this piece of genius.

believeinyourselfdemotivator_largeNow, don’t get me wrong. I love a motivational quote, as people who’ve been on my training sessions will confirm.

And I’ve been helping to draw up some core values in our region, which are likely to be put on display.

But as I prepare for a morning on what makes a great team with some editorial managers later this week, a thought struck me.

One suitable for a poster, in fact.

Making tea makes a teamOne better than that, obviously.

As I look around the many groups of people with whom I work, a clear correlation emerges.

It’s wholly non-scientific, patchily researched, and highly folksy. Perhaps even trite. But I believe it to be true.

Teams that make tea together, stay together.

When I see colleagues heading to the kitchen clutching mugs in each hand, my heart sings a little. When every individual on a desk makes their own, it dies a little.

It’s a tiny act, but one weighted with meaning and symbolism.

The tea or coffee round recognises the existence of a group of co-workers, and is steaming, scalding proof that colleagues care about each other.

And, as I’ve blogged before, it’s a sign that colleagues know something about each other, too, as well as being a great leveller.

Before I end up in Private Eye’s Pseuds Corner, I should make one confession.

I like to think I led some strong and tight-knit teams in more than 20 years of running newsdesks.

But I think I could count number of cups of tea I actually made on the fingers of one hand.

In my defence, for years the chief sub and I used to take it turns throughout the day to buy each other ‘coffee’ from a dubious vending machine.

So now I’m making amends – by making tea.

Even if, as happens in one office that I visit, this involves carrying half a dozen mugs on a tray up two steep flights of stairs.

“We’re not used to a bloke making the tea round here,” was the response the first time I did this.

Confounding sexual stereotypes and building teams, that’s me.


3 thoughts on “Putting the tea into team-building

  1. “There is no “I” in team, but there is an “I” in pie. And there’s an “I” in meat pie. Anagram of meat is team.” – Shaun, Shaun of the Dead

    I love this blog. Mostly because Ollie just made me tea. Bede steals my teabags. What does that say about him?

  2. Anna OCallaghan

    Lovely. Ask Rob Stokes about ‘the power of the biscuit’ next time you see him. A x

    Sent from my iPad Anna

  3. You might not have made tea for your teams but there was always fish and chip Fridays, and the collective swearing!

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