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An organization is only as strong as its team. And because a dysfunctional team can severely harm a community rec center’s ability to deliver the best service to its members, staff bonding initiatives are essential.

Chris Tointon, the president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Omaha, has been in executive leadership positions for over 16 years, and understands how to help bring a team together. Below are some of his insights into how a leadership team can facilitate stronger bonds among team members, and benefits of doing so:

What are your best strategies for helping staff members bond with each other?

CT: One of the best ways to create staff bonding is to make sure they know and can live your mission. Providing opportunities for staff to share in the front-line successes helps bond the entire team together. At the YMCA of Greater Omaha, we have a comprehensive strategy of development that includes training, relationship building, outings and communication. You need the entire plan to work in concert with each other. Bonding is more than an activity or an outing.

Are there any special events you host to help accomplish this?

CT: We do host year-round special events that gather people from all over the organization together. We love to include elements of competition. We’ve hosted sand volleyball and flag football tournaments where branches of each Y face each other. One of the best things we do is host a retreat for our leaders, getting them away from work, and planning solutions to complex problems we face together, with time included for general socialization.

How does a tight-knit staff benefit your organization?

CT: The biggest benefit shows during the challenging times you face as an organization. Trust and communication become vital to success in overcoming hard times, difficult decisions and obstacles.

What tips could you offer for helping staff members bond?

CT: Don’t make it just about team building. Make it about being vulnerable, challenging each other safely, and communication.

Bobby Dyer

Bobby is the former editor of Community Rec Magazine.

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