The KTM team in Amherst knows how to build bikes — rugged, adventure-driven racing machines. But piecing together Huffy bicycles (while blindfolded) is an entirely different story.
KTM partnered with CultureShoc, a strategic-planning and culture-building consultancy that brings leadership, training and employee engagement events to companies and nonprofits of all types. “We find it is twice as powerful when for-profit companies do a give-back as part of a teambuilding program as opposed to just doing a corporate Olympics or some sort of ropes course,” says Pete Honsberger, an integrator, lead facilitator and keynote speaker at CultureShoc. CultureShoc aligns with local nonprofits that benefit from these corporate teambuilding affairs, so it’s a win-win, Honsberger says. “We do a furniture build, and we’ll partner with Habitat for Humanity or another housing nonprofit or veterans associations and provide them with a piece of furniture or two that will make their house into a home,” Honsberger says.
Sometimes, the give-back is embedded in competition for the for-profit holding the event. For example, challenges might involve teams earning a “donation item” upon completing goals or challenges. “The teams compete to create the most robust donation package, and then we’ll work with organizations that can use pantry items, hygiene items and home goods,” Honsberger says. “At the end of the event, everyone involved donates their ‘package’ to the designated organization.”
In the last 3.5 years, CultureShoc has helped about 11,000 individuals through teambuilding, business coaching or donated goods and services. Last year, CultureShoc conducted roughly 55 teambuilding events, Honsberger says. Give-backs have benefitted nonprofit organizations throughout the country — mainly in Ohio and Michigan where most of CultureShoc's clients are based.
“For every event that involves a donation, about 10 to 12 families are positively impacted,” he says.
Teaming up to help
CultureShoc doesn’t just hand over the tools, instructions and bicycle kits to employee teams that participate in the bike-build projects. That’s because the purpose, Honsberger explains, is to engage employees and push them to communicate and collaborate.
“All of our events have an element of high energy,” Honsberger says. “Everyone is having fun, but we have them struggle a little bit to overcome challenges. When we build the bikes or furniture, we typically blindfold anyone who is holding a tool or allowed access to build the item. You can only build if you are wearing a blindfold.”
That means you’ve got to trust your team — and listen to your colleagues, too.
“The team has to coach you on what to do, where to put your hands, what you are holding, where to grab the screwdriver,” Honsberger explains, adding that he warns participants: “We’re not going to make this easy on you.”
Honsberger says the teambuilding exercises grow existing bonds and build those that never existed before the event. “It’s amazing to me how many breakthroughs people have — they didn’t think they could do it, or they say, ‘I never met my teammates before today,’ and they’re walking out laughing and talking as if they were old friends.”
The bikes were donated to the Blessing House, a children's crisis care center in Lorain. KTM not only spent a day focused on critical teambuilding skills, its people gave something tangible back to the community — a sense of purpose. “We were able to put new bikes into the hands of children who maybe never had a new bike,” Honsberger says.
Lynette Filson, CultureShoc’s marketing strategist, relates, “One great way to make real change with teams, and make a real impact, is to help other organizations.”
Supporting Success in the Community
Beyond holding teambuilding events that benefit nonprofits, CultureShoc also provides some of its business consulting services to nonprofit organizations that engage the firm to assist with strategic planning, creating more accountability and improving efficiencies. “We help companies establish and execute against a vision,” Honsberger says.
CultureShoc asks the tough questions: Who are you? Who do you want to be — and what do you want to stand for?
It uses the Entrepreneurial Operating System model to guide strategic planning efforts. The clients who typically engage CultureShoc for those services are small- to mid-sized businesses and entrepreneurs seeking vision and a clear plan to get there. What Honsberger loves best about his role is “watching light bulbs go off in people’s heads,” he says.
Ultimately, that’s CultureShoc’s goal — to tease the answers out of clients and walk with them through the storm, giving them tools so they’re prepared to sustain their success no matter the conditions. That includes creating a sustainable, strong culture and team. “We want to set businesses up for their own successes,” Honsberger says.
Then CultureShoc gets out of the way. “We’re training [clients] to be self-sufficient,” he says.
The firm also has facilitated events for Olympia Companies' Hotel at Oberlin.
“When we see clients experience a big growth year, or when we see leaders who come to us stressed out and, within a couple months of working with them, are more relaxed, happy and running their business, those are some of the things that make us really happy,” Honsberger says.
Filson adds, the economic impact of providing team building that gives back builds stronger communities. “When cultures are strong, even if the economy dips a little bit, there is a system in place so businesses can overcome and pivot if needed,” she says. “The work we do makes a genuine impact on peoples’ lives because companies that get along better are going to be more successful when tough times hit.”
And, experiencing how teambuilding can benefit a community gives teams a sense of pride. “It speaks to quality of life,” Filson says, relating how the satisfaction people gain from working in a positive culture that cares about others is measured by retention, profitability and happiness. “Doing what you love with people you care about is the essence of what we help accomplish.”