Aditya Birla Team Bonding at Mandwa – 2013

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How in heaven’s name can sailing fit into a corporate training program? Can you really train corporate managers to perform better by taking them out on a sports yacht? Isn’t that just an aspect of employee motivation and recognition?

Contrary to popular belief, the sport of sailing, fosters team spirit, harmony, discipline, and strategic thinking… all of which are important characteristics of a good corporate manager.

The Aditya Birla Group has been our loyal client for some time now. We have conducted several HR training programs for them now. Participants have always had the best of both worlds – they enjoyed the fun and adventure of being out at sea and sailing on a sports yacht; they have also imbibed the discipline, strategic thinking skills, and team work that is needed by every sailor… into their own work as a boardroom/corporate manager.

In addition to team building programs, we also do Team Bonding programs. Here’s a brief report of all that happened at the specially designed Team Bonding program that took place at Mandwa (near Alibaugh), in April 2013. 

After the quick 45 minutes ride across the Mumbai harbor, the team arrived, excited and hungry. They dug into the buffet breakfast that awaited them, with aggressive appetites (the sea breeze has a way of building up your appetite) and settled down to the informative briefing.

The Aquasail instructors then introduced these corporate manages to the different aspects of the sport of sailing. Terms such as ‘portside,’ ‘bow,’ ‘mainsail,’ ‘jib,’ ‘boom,’ ‘tiller’ were introduced and explored till the managers felt they were slowly becoming sea-savvy. A session on the ‘life-jacket’ was done. Everyone learnt how to wear their life-jackets, and the supreme importance of wearing one at all times. Their life-jackets soon became as much an inseparable friend as their sailing instructor.

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Down at the beach, groups were formed and the day began with a series of Kayak races. How does a team of two, manage to keep their kayak afloat, moving in the right direction, and yet racing against the other teams. It takes good team work. A lot of committed team work and zero ego. That’s what the teams discovered.

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The next event was another experience in working in pairs… balancing on a windsurf board. The boards are light and float easily but getting onto one takes skill, staying there takes more skill and staying there with your team mate requires you to balance your weight together as a team, else you’ll both fall (with a big splash) into the water. After several rounds of practice, the teams ‘got-it’ and loved the experience of finally becoming ‘a coordinated team.’ The training was tiring though, so a ten minute ‘float-on-you-back-in-the-cool-water’ was definitely in order.

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Now that everyone had got the hang of balancing on the surfboard, it was time to learn to actually windsurf. To catch the wind, let it fill your sail, and go with it as t raced ahead. A full, dramatic demonstration by the able windsurfing instructor from Turkey – ‘Kamil’, made the briefing very interesting. He made it a point to ‘demonstrate’ everything and ask members of the team to try their hand at each move too. 

Well briefed, the troops got into the water and onto their surfboards. After a lot of hilarious splashing and falling into the water, they did manage to become pretty good windsurfers. Their skills at ‘mastering the use of the wind, the tide… and other elements of nature, were commendable. It was an experience in learning that, ‘you can’t really control the wind, but you can certainly learn to adjust your sails.’ This experience would be useful when deal with business markets that can never really be controlled.

Of course, the champion windsurfer, turned out to be… a woman!!! Who says women can’t windsurf?

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Having mastered windsurfing, the teams moved onto the sail boats and then onto the sports yachts but first they had a lot of fun on the small dinghy boats, fun boats and the multi-hull catamarans. Again, team work was needed. Sailing is always team work. Different people play different roles. The captain, the navigator, the crew…all work together to make it happen.

The ‘icing on the cake’ was the 25 ft. Beneteau Sports yachts.

    

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After a hearty lunch and some time to relax, the team reorganized themselves to their final challenge, working together to sail the big Beneteaus. Now a yacht that big needs a bigger team, stricter discipline, and more coordination, but these managers were up to the challenge and proved to become great teams of sailors. Everyone pitched in with sweat, muscle power, brains… and support. Ropes were pulled together, mainsails were rigged, jibs were adjusted, teams learned to tack and switch sides on the boat…almost like ‘pros’. Looking at them working together, you would never say these are ‘land-lubber’ corporate managers. There were showing great team spirit and were fast falling in love with the boats, the sea, and the art of sailing. Mother nature had cast her net, some more had fallen to her charms.

The teams loved every moment on those 25 ft Beneteau spots yachts.

  

When it was finally time to say goodbye to the sea and the boats, and to Mandwa, they left with heavy hearts. But the final awards session at Royal Bombay Yacht Club (RBYC) lifted their spirits again. The colonial ambiance of the place and the riotous cheering at the awards ceremony made one wonder whether these were boardroom managers or happy-go-lucky sailors!!! Such was the charm of the sport of sailing.

What sailing did for the corporate managers at the Aditya Birla Group, can also be done for your corporate team, your managers, or your employees.Call us on 9987681826 to discuss what we can do for you.

Besides leadership training, team building and team bonding, some of our other corporate training courses are on themes such as: Goal visioning, Collaborative leadership, Situational leadership, Managing uncertainty/ change/ ambiguity, Team excellence, and Risk taking.


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