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Get fell in and get selling you ’orrible lot!


On 18 / 19 January 2001, Centrefile sent their sales force to the Army’s Infantry Training Centre (ITC) at Catterick, N. Yorkshire. For 36 hours they lived on the Camp and experienced Army life, whilst undergoing personal motivation and team-building exercises run by the Army.

The 60 Centrefile trainees were sales executives and managers. They were divided into 6 teams, mixing up normal working teams, and all exercises were scored cumulatively to identify the winning team.

The ITC has only opened up its facilities to civilian organisations within the last year, and the Centrefile programme was the most extensive they have yet run.

The programme included:
1. Introduction to the rules of life on an Army camp.
2. Training in skills required for night exercise including map-reading and two-way radio use.
3. Night exercise: orienteering-type exercise in teams across open countryside to locate check-points using map references, obtain and decode passwords, and return in fastest possible time.
4. Overnight in corporals’ barracks.
5. Various team exercises, each lasting 30 minutes, including:
§ Small Arms Training – shooting SA80s on indoor range using latest technology to simulate fire against moving targets.
§ Abseiling down 25 foot wall.
§ Four separate commando tasks requiring logical problem-solving to move team members across terrain with obstacles, without touching ground, and using only limited range of props (eg wooden plank, length of rope), measured against the clock.
6. ‘Mission Impossible’ steeple-chase across snow-covered hilly woodland with various obstacles including sewage tunnels, chicken-wire, tree trunks, and water hazards to be waded through, in fastest time.
7. Presentation of prizes to the winning team.
8. Formal Dinner in the Officers’ Mess.

Training objectives:
1. To build team spirit among group of people who work ‘on the road’ and whose contact with each other is normally restricted to telephone and email.
2. To instil ‘can do’ attitude and build confidence that seemingly impossible tasks can be achieved.
3. To demonstrate how working as a team can achieve more than working as individuals.
4. To demonstrate communication issues between leader and his/her team.

Training results:
1. Camaraderie within teams and rivalry between them created lot of personal interaction resulting in closer bonds and feeling of belonging. This will facilitate future communication and support between individuals, particularly those newer to the company.
2. Several participants achieved physical tasks (eg abseiling) they thought themselves incapable of, by gaining confidence through seeing others do it and with support and encouragement from their team. Similarly, some team commando tasks appeared impossible at first, but with the collective ideas of the team a solution was found. This helps foster the ‘can do’ attitude which is part if our company culture.
3. Realisation that when working as a team the winning time is that of the slowest team member, hence the most agile members need to assist the least able as much as possible rather than going for a personal best. This has parallels in the work context, and is particularly pertinent to those in team leadership roles where coaching the less able is more important than working with those who are already going to achieve.
4. Some of the teams experienced problems solving the commando exercises through poor communication of the objectives by the leader (only the leader was briefed on the task and constraints). The lesson is to ensure that all team members understand what they are required to achieve and what ‘rules’ they must work within.
5. The commando exercises also demonstrated the need for planning before action. This includes taking advice from any team members who have relevant experience, and analysing individual strengths to identify the best team member for each different role in delivering the solution.
6. The importance of team spirit was demonstrated during the final steeple-chase exercise, when no member of the winning teams hesitated to follow their team-mates jumping into waist deep icy water, when that was the way they had to go, thus preserving their team’s momentum towards a winning time. If this exercise had been attempted at the beginning of the training, there would have been less commitment to the team resulting in argument possible refusals and potential failure of the team.

Some quotes:
“You were the most enthusiastic group we have ever had” – Col. Nigel Lithgow, Commandant of Infantry Training Centre.

“Makes you appreciate how lucky you are to have an office job!”

“Initial reaction was fear and apprehension – now I can look back with pride on our achievement.”

“This harness (for abseiling) feels like wearing a codpiece!” – a female delegate.

“It’s good for us city dwellers to get out for a country walk!” – overheard on night exercise.

Contact for further information
Sara Halliday, PR Assistant, Centrefile, tel: 020 7335 3175
email: [email protected]

Sara Halliday (Centrefile)

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