Holistic Approaches to Teambuilding

Building a strong, unified company culture is no small feat, especially in the current business climate. Yet clear benefits have been linked to fostering feelings of belonging in the workplace – including increased productivity, employee retention, and a healthy work environment. That’s where teambuilding comes in. Creating opportunities for employees to get to know each other, establish connections, and have fun is a vital part of strengthening team unity.

Here, we asked local leaders how they approach teambuilding in their organizations, both inside the office and out.

Guru Shah  CEO, Shah Trucking & Shah Logistics Guru Shah


Shah Trucking & Shah Logistics

My dad has always taught me to treat every business relationship like a marriage. Through thick and thin, we stand by our people and always aim to place them on a path to success.

We are exhaustingly intentional in our hiring practices to ensure that we are bringing in new team members who embody our core values and are prepared to work hard to uphold our mission to be a service-first business.

While others utilize kegs of beer, foosball tables, and other gimmicks to retain employees, we, at Shah Logistics, differentiate ourselves through our empathy-driven leadership style. We are hell-bent on ensuring the success of every person we bring in the building, and we believe this will lead to sustained growth built on a foundation of the hard work executed by long-term, dedicated, and professional team members.

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Beverly Edge COO, General Counsel, & Partner, HHMBeverly Edge


General Counsel, & Partner, HHM

Maintaining and protecting our company culture is one of our most important jobs at HHM, and we have renewed our focus on making team members feel more connected after the challenges of COVID-19. Last year, we organized our inaugural company-wide field day. Everyone had a fantastic time, and it allowed our team members – from interns to partners – to get to know each other on a much more personal level and in a completely different environment. We also design our facilities to be unique, collaborative workspaces for our team members. This fall, we will begin construction on a new office building beside the Freight Depot. The new building has been designed to encourage our team members to collaborate and connect with each other by including a gym, a work café, and outdoor gathering and workspaces. Our belief is that engaged and connected team members will be better equipped to provide our clients with the high level of service they have come to expect from HHM.

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Becky Hansard  Head of School, Silverdale Baptist Academy

Becky Hansard

Head of School

Silverdale Baptist Academy

A solid holistic teambuilding opportunity occurred when I encouraged our employees to dream their biggest dream while planning for the construction of a new Fine Arts and Worship Center. After prayer, groups gathered and covered wall-sized sticky notes with ambitious plans for how the new building could best serve students. I was adamant in communicating that no dream was too big!

Validation occurred as the teams were able to see their dreams come to fruition with the actual construction of the center. It was teambuilding at its best on our largest project to date! Proverbs 27:17 states, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” We live this truth out daily at Silverdale Baptist Academy, as we believe it’s impossible for one person to become sharper without the other. The end result of spending time together in collaboration always culminates in others feeling heard, valued, and connected.

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Scott Rowe  CEO, Encompass Health

Scott Rowe


Encompass Health

Creating a feeling of belonging and unity flows directly from the Encompass Health Way – five key values that guide everything we do in our hospital. These values include ‘Setting the Standard,’ which allows us to set common goals that challenge us to be better together for our patients and for each other. ‘Leading with Empathy’ guides our interactions with our patients, their families, and each other, encouraging us to put ourselves in another’s shoes. ‘Doing What’s Right’ means we can trust each other to have principled motives in all our actions and endeavors. Having a key value of ‘Focus on the Positive’ ensures the team keeps the right perspective, even in challenging times. Finally, ‘Stronger Together’ reminds us that a cohesive team that embraces our diversity will be a more successful team. Tying everything we do back to these values helps us build the strong, unified culture that our patients and our team deserve.

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Lisa Nausley   Owner/CEO, Sandler Training

Lisa Nausley


Sandler Training

Just as flight attendants remind us each time we fly, if we are to take care of others, we must take care of ourselves first. In case of an emergency, we are told to put the oxygen mask on ourselves first to ensure that we can then properly attend to those in our charge. At Sandler, we believe in being our best so that we can better serve our clients. Creating a strong, unified culture starts with a focus on maintaining a healthy mind, body, and spirit.

What follows is a sample of the types of things that keep us connected and appreciative of the contributions of every team member to those we serve (including each other):

  • Intentional communication via team meetings twice a week
  • Open discussions about behavior/communication styles, which creates deeper understanding of ourselves and appreciation for each individual
  • Active collaboration and sharing of ideas and resources on direct and indirect projects
  • Identify strengths and special interests and assign duties/projects that allow those to shine
  • Encourage individuals to share special knowledge, unique gifts, and advanced skills
  • Annual holiday dinners and seasonal outings that include significant others
  • Actively recognize with the team each individual’s successes: big or small, business or personal

Be your best to give your best!

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Andrew Ladebauche  CEO, Reliance Partners

Andrew Ladebauche


Reliance Partners

Reliance Partners is a culture-first company. Our priority is the human experience, evidenced by flat hierarchies, collaborative decision-making, and an emphasis on employee engagement initiatives. We like to work hard and play hard; between employee athletic teams, diversity initiatives, and community service events, we schedule in time to get to know each of our Reliance Partners family members.
To promote unity among departments, our open-door policy extends to our office setup. There are no private offices at Reliance Partners – leadership, sales, service, operations, IT, quality assurance, marketing, and finance all sit together because we all work together. Each employee provides their unique perspective and quality workmanship to the team.

We spend a considerable amount of time recognizing strengths and rewarding #extramile attitudes. Success isn’t a one-man-job, and Reliance Partners owes every bit of its progress to the great people we work with every day. We continue to break records by paying close attention to those closest to our process: our team members.

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Joey Hogan   President, Covenant Logistics

Joey Hogan


Covenant Logistics

At Covenant, we believe building a strong, unified culture takes time, effort, listening, and intentional actions. One example in our teambuilding, retention, and inclusion strategy started with discovering what our team members actually want by asking for their honest feedback. We started Bi-Annual Team Member Satisfaction Surveys in 2016. The surveys offer anonymous and transparent feedback that allows us to actively respond in ways to ensure team members’ voices are heard by implementing ideas based on their responses. Recent top initiatives Covenant has implemented include remote work options for positions that qualify, town hall meetings conducted with every team member quarterly to promote communication with an effort to minimize silos, vacation and service/tenure enhancements, simplified review process with a career progression section, succession planning process, and wellness credits. Our team member survey is just one example of Covenant’s commitment to foster a culture of belonging and teambuilding.

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Shannon Stephenson   CEO, Cempa Community Care

Shannon Stephenson


Cempa Community Care

I believe that the most impactful things a leader can do to promote a sense of belonging and unity is by clearly defining a mission, hiring people who believe in that mission, and empowering each employee to see how their unique efforts play a consequential role in the team’s ability to champion the mission. When you do that, your people know they’re a part of something greater, and they have a sense of personal agency in the work they perform. Without an organizational North Star focused on the mission and impact in the community, it’s almost inevitable that a team will become unhappy and unproductive. At Cempa, we’ve been able to accomplish so much because we all know what we’re all trying to achieve, and it is only done together as a team.

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Andrea White   CEO, Kindred Hospital

Andrea White


Kindred Hospital

The last two years in the hospital environment have given new meaning to holistic teambuilding. At the same time, it has also reminded us to focus the basics of our core values. Some of those values include respecting individuality, creating fun in what we do, being kinder than expected, doing the right thing always, and staying focused on the patient. Cultivating the best in interpersonal behaviors allows us to deliver a better experience for our staff, families, and patients.
We recognize our team members publicly for living our values, share compliments from patients, families, and colleagues, and celebrate milestones and accomplishments. We also can’t celebrate without supporting our local Chattanooga businesses. Our annual hospital week is filled with gifts, food trucks, contests, and daily themes. This year, we celebrated Derby Day with pies and fancy hats, Cinco de Mayo with a food truck and gourmet popsicles, and a breakfast bash with croffles.

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