I am sure that my tale is not an unusual one; I was once a shy thirty something stuck in the same job because I was lacking confidence in my skills and abilities. After years of working in an office, I was being bypassed by management who were in favour of the younger, more outgoing workers. Rather than blaming system of agency fuelled temporary office positions, I chose to accept the offer of joining a team building course. This is a story of how this simple decision changed my life.
I had been working full time since leaving college, mostly as a temp, moving from office to office before I had a chance to form proper working relationships. This way of working also affected my ability to gain new skills in the workplace. Rather than picking up where I left off when changing jobs, I started right back where I was and I didn't have the courage to ask for extra training. After a few years I got a permanent position within a company, but after 6 years on temp scene, my skills left a lot to be desired and I was in the lowest position and under the managerial eye of fresh faced university graduates.
Due to the fact that I had been in the same type of employment for so long, it was assumed that my skills were at their peak. I felt like no one had the confidence in me, and became grateful with my lot, worked hard and kept quiet. What didn't occur to me was that I wasn't giving off any sign that I could do better or even wanted to do better in my job. Deep down I wanted a challenge, I wanted to be part of a team and most of all I wanted to prove to myself that I could be the high flyer I always wanted to be.
When my boss announced that places were being booked for a team building event, I was eager to put my name down, but at the same time terrified. What if I wasn't capable of being a shining star, what if I had been fooling myself for all these years, and I wasn't actually capable of becoming the person I thought I could be. Thankfully, something inside me decided that I had nothing to lose, although I had no idea what to expect, at the very least I would get to know the people I was working with better.
When the day for the team building arrived, I was full of confidence. There was something about being out of the office that was liberating. I chatted with most of the people on the way there, and found that I had so much in common with many of them. When it actually came to the team building crunch as it were, being in a team and facing challenges with the people I'd been chatting to seemed like a natural process. I was able to speak my mind, offer opinions and help tackle the tasks as an equal.
The people I was with saw that I was in fact a great problem solver and capable of leading a team. I'd not had an opportunity to show this quality within myself within the workplace, but it was something that came naturally. Having the opportunity to be recognised for who I am, and what I am capable of led to a change in my working life. The management that I felt so berated by were in fact my saviours, offering me a more senior position within the company as part of the human resource team. I am now an outgoing and confident member of the company, and able to guide new recruits, no matter what age or skill through our system as part of my own team building strategy!
Dom Donaldson is a human resources expert.
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