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Training Employee team-building takes a ‘yes and’ attitude

Just like ABC’s television show called, “Who’s Line Is It Anyway?”, a small team of people are given a situation and must resolve the problem with improvisation, teamwork and creativity.

It’s a concept similar to what San Diego-based improVentures uses to train employees in a fun and educational way to improve communication, creative thinking and retention within a company.

By using this concept, improVentures facilitates teambuilding with a company’s employees by letting employees perform together in these improvisation excercises.

Milo Shapiro, president of the company, plans to teach company employees the “Five C’s of team-building.” The Five C’s are creativity, commitment, cooperation, communication and community, he said.

“(Employees) are playing improvisation games in a theater-like setting,” Shapiro said. “It helps them with their listening skills, presentation of ideas and nonverbal communication.”

The most important lessons for employees of a company to learn is paying attention to each other and making eye contact, according to Shapiro. With these lessons, employees will learn how to delegate, to cooperate and how to cope with failure.

“The bottom line is that everyone is having fun,” he said. “It brings out unknown personalities and qualities in some people.”

In one of the excercises called, “Yes And …” employees learn how to build on someone else’s ideas without changing the subject or shooting down the idea.

For example, one employee can say, “Let’s go to the movies.” Another employee might respond by saying, “Yes and we can watch the new ‘Pearl Harbor’ movie.”

However, an employee should not respond with a “Yes but” saying for instance, “Yes, but let’s go to the miniature golf course instead.”

“The idea is to let people build on the previous idea with ‘Yes and,'” he said. “It’s very American to shoot down other people’s ideas or change the subject, particularly with a ‘Yes but.'”

These courses are full-day, six-hour programs with an hour lunch break. Shorter course times are available. “The ‘team-provising’ class has changed (our emloyees) from task-focused individuals to a dynamic work team ready to excel,” said Enrique Villalobos, manager of software component development in information technology at Sempra Energy. “We are all capable individuals working toward a common goal and wearing the same uniform.”

Some of improVentures’ clients included Computer Science Corp.’s San Diego offices, Sempra Energy, and San Diego-based King Technologies.

“There’s a feeling to look out for one and another after these excercises,” Shapiro said. “All this creates a dynamic team work environment and everyone to look at the overall big picture for their projects.”

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