High Performing Teams : Crafting Unique Experiences to Bring a Team Together

There's nothing on earth like the feeling you get at 2am, flying in a helicopter in the pitch black over the North Atlantic Ocean searching for a missing ship in distress, and then hoisting onto the boat, or jumping into the water to save a life.

As a Search and Rescue Technician, the people around you are your family and you trust them with your life. That bond is built over the months and years of training and preparing for those kinds of operations, and it is one of the most important pillars for success.

As a Search and Rescue Technician with the Royal Canadian Air Force, the team bond was incredible and unbreakable. This group of highly skilled people are at the top of their game, doing the most challenging work you can think of. This is because team building is not taken for granted. Each team must be crafted with the specific intention of reaching those levels of high-performance, it doesn't happen by accident.

"Each team must be specifically crafted. It doesn't happen by accident."

Here are 5 team building strategies that I've seen in my experience as a part of a high-performing team, and that I have used as a Dive Instructor.

  1. Build a Common History

The military environments that I worked in for nearly ten years are an excellent example of how shared experiences and common history are the key to forging a team through even the toughest and shittiest of jobs.

As a PADI Dive Instructor during the training that I have conducted in the past, I have taken special care to craft the best training environment for divers of all skill levels. It is so important to always keep in mind those lessons that have been so deeply ingrained about the value of crafting unique experiences to build a team.

"Shared experiences and common history are the key to forging a team"

A great way of doing this is to get out an have a new experience with everyone. Scuba is an awesome way to do this - each dive is different and you always see something new. The post-dive chats are always interesting and it's always awesome to see how inspired people get.

Adding an element of fun and excitement will have your newly formed team talking about what a great time they had. Maybe it's Go Karting, ice skating, or another kind of activity that gets people out of their regular routine. Try something different and memorable.

2. Keep Your Standards High and Aim to Achieve Them

The PADI training standards set the bar high in terms of dive skills. People know that when they become certified as an Open Water Diver, or an Advanced Open Water Diver they have the skills they need to succeed.

I take the confidence that is built through working hard to achieve a skill, and give people an opportunity to add more proficiency. This is a method that is time-tested and leads to high-performing individuals and teams.

Dont' let the standards slip. People feel proud when they achieve a high standard, and it helps them feel a sense of belonging once they get there.

3. Celebrate Successes

First Open Water dive!? Awesome! Ring the bell and cheer for your group! Celebrating successes together adds to the shared common experience that the group needs in order to really gel as a team.

4. Talk About Failures

Didn't quite master that skill yet? Rally together and talk about it.

I have found that the biggest barrier to success is... fear! Air out those fears and usually they go away!

"the biggest barrier to success is... fear!"

I make sure that there aren't other factors getting in the way of success.

Really knowing and understanding the people you are working with, or are mentoring, is important in understanding how to get to success.

5. Build Common Ground

In the dive world, it's pretty easy to find common ground with people. Finding an idea that everyone can buy into is a super quick way to building a rapport and get into that team spirit.

You love sea turtles? Me too!

You get sea sick? Me too!

You wish you were a marine mammal? Me too!

Extra bonus tip - make up a funny team name. It's simple, hilarious, and it works!

Go Team Sea Turtles!

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