Cisco UK & Ireland Blog

Team Building with Cisco

October 15, 2014

Hi I’m Sam and I lead the team volunteering for Cisco. ‘Team volunteering?’ I hear you say. ‘The title was team building, what is this woman on about?’. Read on…

Gone are the ‘away’ days of driving 4x4s and building rafts to build a more effective team. Well that may not be the case for everyone but it’s largely true here in Cisco (UK & Ireland). That’s not to say that we don’t do team building, we’ve just found different ways to do it.

We have a deeply ingrained culture of giving back in Cisco. With both global and local programmes raising money for charity, employees are encouraged to give back to the communities we live and work in. One of the ways we give back is through team volunteering. Team volunteering covers many different activities but what it does do is get people to work together towards a common goal. I’d call that team building. Wouldn’t you?

That common goal might be something related to sharing our skills such as a day mentoring young people from the ReClaim group in Manchester, but largely it tends not to be. Our team volunteering is often about helping charities with the upkeep of their buildings and grounds. This might seem to be an odd fit.  But there’s a lot to be said for levelling the playing field. It provides the opportunity for anyone to take the role of leader and for people’s hidden talents to be revealed. Talents that help the team overcome obstacles and achieve their goal at the end of the day. So people have achieved something, they’ve learnt about each other and helped the charity. That’s not just win win. That’s win win win!

And let’s not forget that for every hour an employee gives to approved charities the Cisco Foundation donates $10 to the charity. So a team of eight spending eight hours with the charity will deliver a donation of $640 to the charity coffers!

As people come to realise that team volunteering is more than taking a few hours off to help a charity the trend grows and spreads and we now average a team a week out volunteering with local charities. Teams vary in size from 4 – 50 people. The size of a team often determines the type of activity.

However this is a fast growing trend both inside Cisco and out, and our local charities are receiving more and more enquiries from corporates. To the point in some cases where you have to join a waiting list to take your turn amongst the many corporates signed up with a charity.  So my question to you is: should we stop supporting the ones in this situation? Should we be looking for new charities to support? Perhaps we continue to support and find new? What could our groups be involved with that is meaningful for them and gives something back to the community? This is about people and passion and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Watch the video for an overview of some of the things we do that make us proud to work for Cisco:

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