4 Team Lessons to Take Away From a Mountain Mission

Apart from our largest release to date, Tempo Timesheets 8.0, most of last week’s conversations at the office revolved around the recent Tempo Mountain Mission at Hrútfjallstindar.

All it took was a simple question to watch the magic unfold itself: “How was the trip?”

As soon as that question escaped the mouth, we could see the way their eyes lit up as their gaze wandered with euphoria into a faraway land. The rest of us would then be in for a treat with stories from the mountains.

From the cafe to our office lounge area, the remnants of the excitement from that trip was definitely apparent.

From mountain mission to team experience at the office

Often times, we don’t stop long enough to reflect upon the lessons from our surroundings and nature. Especially not when it comes to applying a seemingly non-related experience to another.

A brief conversation with five Templings –  Anna, Axel, Bjarki, Kristin, and Marta – revealed some interesting thoughts which are fundamental in creating a solid and positive team experience.

Lesson #1: Preparation is important, if not crucial

One of the main lessons that was stressed upon was the importance of preparation for this particular mountain mission to Hrútfjallstindar.

Preparations ranged from things as simple as knowing what is needed for the hike to understanding what works best for the body through training hikes and so on in order to complete the hike without overexerting the body into exhaustion.

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The same mentality applies to teams before commencing any project or mission. It is not uncommon to have a tendency to rely on our team leaders to provide us with information; especially since they are usually the more experienced ones too.

It’s important to know what you signed up for.

However, proper preparation beforehand will enable the team to function at its optimal level for two main reasons:

  • On an individual level: Each member is able to develop themselves based on the awareness of their strengths and weaknesses in order to move forward. What works best for an individual may not work for the other.
  • On a collective level: Aligning expectations among all team members allows them to be mentally well prepared and equipped for the mission ahead as well as to be clear of the direction the team is heading towards.


Preparation is important, if not crucial in teams whether or not we’re big on planning.

 

Lesson #2: Ready, set, go steady

“The guides were saying that they had never completed a mission as fast as they did with us,” said the one of the Templings on this mountain mission.

While the perfect weather during that weekend was certainly a big plus, the success of this trip still truly boiled down to teamwork. It requires team effort to be in-sync in order to complete a mountain mission within a planned timeframe.

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The best way to be efficient is to find a pace that is comfortable for everyone in the group. Try to be the fastest one, and one will end up having to wait for the rest. Take our own sweet time, and the rest of the group gets held back. Finding a comfortable speed will allow the group to move at a constant pace without compromising safety and enjoyment during the process.

Moving slower in a more consistent way can be as successful or even more successful than trying to move too fast.

It is also essential to realize that each individual in a team functions differently. Some people are better uphill than down, just as some team members are better at certain skills.

Having a better understanding of our differences allows room for mutual respect as well as for the team to remain in-sync by complementing each other.

 

Lesson #3: Reward comes in baby steps

Here is the part when we can see eyes light up as they relayed their stories – the scenery from the peak.

To begin with, we know that rewards never come easy. It takes hard work and perseverance in order to taste the sweetness of an accomplishment. Admittedly, the process of tackling a huge challenge also comes with the feeling of defeat along the way.

The Tempo team

The best way to tackle moments like that is to break down goals into smaller segments and milestones, just as we do in agile. We can then start making progress by taking baby steps. However, milestones alone are not entirely enough.

There are moments when I felt like I’m never going to do this again, but it was so worth it.

Our tendency to focus only on the end goal sometimes leads us to forget about celebrating the completion of smaller steps and actions which eventually builds up to the larger picture.

Instead of waiting to taste the fruit of success at the final point, it is easier to enjoy smaller rewards along the way in order to keep our motivation alive in an agile manner.

 

Lesson #4: Someone always…“Hold the door!”

If you are a fan of Game of Thrones, you would immediately get the reference to the above statement. Even if you are not, you still won’t miss out on the meaning of it.

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One of the teams heard a tremendously loud crack as they descended from the top,  which stirred some slight panic. Having loose crampons did not help ease the situation either. While they laughed over that particular memory during the recollection, danger sure felt very real at that moment.

I thought we were all going to fall. But, the guide told us it was just the glaciers releasing some tension and we continued our hike.

It wasn’t until a later point when they overheard their guide telling the other team guide how scary it was during that exact moment, that they realized it actually was dangerous.

Imagine what would have happened if he hadn’t kept that thought to himself during the hike. All it takes is a panic attack from one of the team members for the whole team to come to a halt or to plunge into danger.

It is so easy for us to go about our daily tasks without knowing the amount of challenges silently weathered by someone, often the leader, in the team in order to allow us to continue progressing towards our goals.

The next time another mission/project comes up, don’t forget there will always be one or more people in the team who will hold the door against the impact of danger and challenges. Identify them and give them an extra huge pat on the back once the mission/project is completed.

Creating a better team experience

One of the beautiful takeaways from the stories shared is the sense of achievement and content that came with it. For some, it may be another hiking trip. For others, it was a mission with a lot of self discovery.

Most of us probably associate self discovery with isolation, meditation, going solo or doing the unusual in order to discover new parts of ourselves. We don’t always realize that sometimes it is the people and support system around us that may lead us to discover strengths and abilities we never thought we had, which usually happens in a team.

The functionality of a team does not lie solely on one person, instead it is up to each individual to make it a better experience for everyone. Therefore, it would be a good idea to start asking ourselves:

“What can I bring to the table to enrich our team experience?”

So, there you go, some of the lessons learned from the recent Tempo Mountain Mission. A huge thank you to the Templings who have so kindly shared their thoughts and stories!

 

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Serena Chan
Serena’s a writer by day and a dancer by night. When she is doing neither of those, she can be found doing a little bit of everything else from reading, designing, talking to the neighbor’s puppy, trying to fix her broken typewriter to failing miserably at latte art.

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  1. […] the team lessons from Tempo’s Mountain Mission a little while […]

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