Sheep Dip with Raising the Baa

BONUS EPISODE - 7 Teamwork Lessons From Our Alpine Fundraising Challenge

November 21, 2022 Chris Farnsworth & Caroline Palmer
Sheep Dip with Raising the Baa
BONUS EPISODE - 7 Teamwork Lessons From Our Alpine Fundraising Challenge
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Recently (October 2022) the co-founders of Raising the Baa, Chris and Caroline, were in the French Alps.

They were two of a team of 7 randomly mixed people all with one purpose: 'helping young people climb past anxiety' in a fund-raising challenge.

Four teams each raising money for their chosen charity, the challenge was to go higher and further (and wetter it transpired!) than others within a specified time period to gain much coveted points.

Reflecting on their experience Chris and Caroline learnt many valuable lessons about working as a team. A dose of their own medicine if you like!

They shared their 7 lessons via a LinkedIn live audio event - a first for Raising the Baa! And the story of the challenge unfolded too. 

Do you know of a young person trying to combat anxiety or other mental health issues?
It's not too late to show your support as our fundraising page is still open. All donations will naturally be very much appreciated by Inner Flame, a charity which only survives through donations and grants.  The more we raise the more young people we can help manage their anxiety.

What are your main team challenges and desires? Maybe we can help?
Book in a 15-minute Exploratory Call now and let's see.

Hello and welcome to Sheep Dip, the podcast from Raising the Baa. We're global leaders in team building with sheep at its core. I'm Caroline and together with my partner Chris, we co-founded this completely unique business. In this series of podcasts, we are bringing you the complete A to Z of team building. It picks up on all the themes that have been fed back to us by our clients in their reviewing sessions, following their Raising the Baa programmes. And a few more topics of our own too. Expect plenty of shepherding references from Chris and he is in lively conversations with Paul Warriner our lead facilitator. In this series, at the end of each episode, we are going to ask you a question. It'll be related to something discussed in the show. Keep your answers handy because each and every month we're giving away some Raising the Baa prizes. So whenever you're listening, you can enter. How to enter will be in the show notes. Enjoy the show. 

Chris (01:02):
 Hi Paul, how are you doing? 

Paul (01:04):
 Very well, thanks Christopher. And yourself? 

Chris (01:06): 

Ooh, Christopher. Now that's interesting because my mother always called me Christopher when I'd done something wrong. Oh, Christopher. Oh right, okay. Uh, I've obviously done something wrong. It was a good ears up. I should be doing something better. 

Paul (01:22):
 Well prick your ears up this morning then, because obviously we'll be talking about something very 

interesting. I believe we're onto the letter S of the team building. 

Chris (01:33):
 Yes. And what a great letter it is. It's got to stand for sheep and shepherding, isn't it? I mean, that's all 

we need to talk about. 

Paul (01:40): Well over to you. 

Chris (01:41): 

What I love about shepherding is the detail. No two days are the same. You just never know what mother nature's going to throw at you next. And that for me is what makes it young and exciting and be out with mother nature and with the sheep. That excitement when you go to work? 

Paul (02:03):
 Yes. Did you see the pause there? 

Chris (02:07):
 Yes, I did hear a slight pause. 

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That's because you probably travel through mother nature to get to the office of some description. Maybe not if you're working from home as much, but certainly if you are on a commute of any description, you'd be passing through some urban countryside. I think it's what you see, isn't it? And I think you make a valid point with the fact that your environment changes every day. It's different weather wise, seasonal, the sheep are never in the same place every day, I guess. Unless there's a cafe in the corner that they hanging out at. So there's not a lot of predictability. There's a lot of predictability in the office world. But that brings us neatly, I think, to almost an S where we should be starting after shepherd is systematic. You know, I think well just described a systematic process of getting up and going to work. 


You know, you do the same things every day and sometimes that can be quite tedious and get to be a little bit unexciting. And I think it's the same as the things that we do in our exercise at Raising the Baa. If there are no systems in place, people don't understand the plan, people don't know what they're doing. It can be chaotic and it can be disconcerting and people get a bit despondent. So systems are really important in teamwork and a system that is a communication system, a planning system. Systems are vital in team building as they are in the office. And I guess I'm just gonna throw this out there, they are in your world as a shepherd. 

Chris (03:37): 

I was just thinking about that. Actually it's not quite so systematic as you would think. I treat every sheep as an individual. In fact, the more individual I can keep that sheep, the better it performs for me and the better I get to know it, et cetera, et cetera. And that's very true with people. I believe the more individual they feel, then you gain more and more trust. If actually when you come to systematic, you know, like busy periods like shearing and lambing, those two periods are really systematic. And actually they are only over a period of about six weeks. So we do for six weeks, we get really systematic and then it drifts off into different areas where you're trying to treat the sheep as individuals. So there's a time when it comes together where it's very systematic, where you're looking at seconds and timings and everything like that is really important. And there is a very systematic system. But actually outside those two major periods, then diversity is really good. You know, we like to see a lot of diversity in the grasses we feed the sheep, or their diet because they do better. And so actually we look for the diversity. But it's always helped by mother nature as well. 

Paul (05:03): 

I think you make a good point there because I think this diversity helps end of story, you know, different points of view, different cultures, people coming from different perspectives. And we covered that often in some previous letters. But ultimately teamwork is a system. You know, you talk about it in sport, you know, the defensive system and there's offensive systems and all sorts of things like that in the workplace, in those critical moments. And I think that echoes what you've just said in those critical moments, things come together in an efficient system. The diversity helps people bring a lot to those processes. So systems is important in teamwork and I think a lot of that is important within the office. You are obviously speaking out as a shepherd. And I think that's one of the things that we like to see in the exercises that we do. 


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People speaking out and voicing their opinion and putting their point across and engaging in the team process. So speaking out is a letter S because it can draw great value from the people that are gathered. And it's not always the noisy ones or the extroverts that are doing the speaking out. Sometimes people who you would least expect speak out, but it's also to encourage those that aren't as confident as others to speak out because their perspective as an individual, that diversity we were just talking about is important to get hold of within the team dynamic. So we encourage it. I think teams should encourage it, people to have a voice and to say what they're feeling, what they're thinking, what their ideas are, because it just builds that value within the team and energises everybody to go for the goal. So what about speaking out in your work? Does that resonate with anything? 

Chris (06:59): 

Oh, very much. We have a command for the dog is, well not speaking out, speak up. And so when you are working with the dog, you want them to bark and make some noise to move the sheep. Sometimes you see the shepherd going woo woo woo to move the sheep on. And actually getting the dog to speak up, in other words to bark, really does move the sheep quite effectively. So remembering that the sheep have got their eyes on the side of their head, so they've got a lot more peripheral vision. But actually the fact is that when they speak up, oh my gosh, we're all going to move forward a lot quicker. And you get that push. So if you sometimes want to push the sheep, you want it to speak up and to have that effect. And I guess that's the same with teams, you know, if somebody's really vocal and speaks up, they move or motivate the team in a big way to surge forward. 

Paul (07:56): 

Yeah, and I was just thinking then as you were talking, in my mind I was talking about speaking up when you're gathered as an ensemble and you're doing some planning or reviewing or something like that, you know, you're chatting away and you voice a view. But of course it's really important during the exercises we've seen so many times when people are following orders or they're following directions and a plan, but nobody speaks up if something is not working. And sometimes what they do is they speak up but not vocally. They just disengage. So there's an interpretation of speaking out, speaking up, voicing your opinion that is positive and that is engaging and saying something and trying to correct or tweak something that you might be doing or that others are doing. And then there's the speaking out and standing, you know, standing out as it were and disengaging because you can't be bothered or it's not working, you're not having fun or something like that. So speaking out is represented in many different ways and I think if you are careful and you watch for these things and you encourage the right kind of speaking out, up, standing up for et cetera, then it can be very, very valuable. Or as you just said, if somebody's chatting away and speaking up and it's not very productive, it can be very distracting. 

Chris (09:16): 

Yeah. And with the dog, we very much have a shut up as well. No, that's enough. Because at the end of the day, a constant dog bark all day while you are working can get very wearing. So there is a place for speaking up and that is when you want the sheep to move forward and then shut up, we just need a bit of peace and quiet. And I think that balance is really in a dog is hard work to train. And one minute you ask it to bark and next minute you say, no, shut up, be quiet. 

 And yeah, it's quite hard for people get to get that right balance, I would say. 

Paul (09:55): 

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Yeah. I mean that balance in the workplace and in teams is sometimes very difficult to get as well. But another S for me is self development. And we've seen it time and time again, the growth that people go through, their confidence, their esteem, their voice. We've just been talking about, you know, they learn an awful lot primarily about themselves and how they fit into others, other groups and other systems, for example. But I think that's one of the most rewarding things that we see. And I guess it's rewarding for the individuals and for the team and for the companies that we work with when people really blossom and their development is so obvious. And it's carried forward into the workplace, we know that from the work that we've done when following up with clients and, you know, those people learn something and they take it with them and they use it in day to day activities. So for me, self development is such a great benefit of the work that we do and the work that happens in teams generally. 

Caroline (11:04): 

If you're enjoying listening to this podcast, we'd really appreciate your following us and rating Sheep Dip, wherever it is that you tune in. And if you've got a burning question arising from today's show or you have a topic that you'd like to discuss in a bit more detail, then please email me 

Paul (11:24): 

Social is a huge part of team building, team development. It's massive, you know, the celebration, it goes with the word celebration, doesn't it? You tend to celebrate in a very social way and getting together with the team and as you say, debriefing, chatting, reviewing, doing that in a very social way. We are social creatures at the end of the day. And I think we've all been through a very trying period recently with the pandemic and stuff like that where it's become even more evident that we are social creatures and a lot of people need that interaction to be fulfilled in the workplace. Teams can provide that, although there is now a new method of working remotely and teamwork remotely. So there's an element of that social that you have to do in a different way. 


You redeploy those social skills that you developed over millions of years in that personal interaction, one on one or one in a group, for example. Now we're having to learn and apply those same skills in a digital world, in a Zoom for example. And it's sometimes a tough process for people to be able to get that connection through this digital environment that we tend to be working in when we're working remotely. But it's just a stepping stone, it's a learning curve. It's something we've got to adapt to. But I don't think it replaces myself. I don't think it replaces that one on one, but I think it's a necessary skill that people have got to learn going forward because the world is a different place. But we at Raising the Baa, we bring people together in that moment, person to person group, you know, in a group. So we are part of that old school, but with a new flavour to look at it and how do we develop that? So it's very social. 

Chris (13:19): 

The sheep are very social animals. And I was just thinking about how sociable the sheep are and they naturally want to stay as a flock. But occasionally you get pet sheep, which really have bonded with other animals. And you often see that with horses. They will travel around with horses because they keep them calm. But equally I've seen orphan lambs adopt a dog and they are very dog-like. And so actually in this social environment, they will adopt characteristics of the people they stay with. So if they 

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stay with a horse, they get more horse-like, if they are brought up with a dog, they get more dog-like, it's 

quite incredible. 

Paul (14:04):
 That's a debate about nature and nurture isn't it? 

Chris (14:08): Very much so. 

Paul (14:09): 

Are we a product of our genes or a product of the environment that we live in? Obviously it's a combination at some point. And to which side the pendulum swings I think can be determined by many things. S is a very powerful one within the alphabet for team building. There's many things we could discuss, but I think we've probably consumed all the time we have, haven't we? 

Chris (14:30):
 Time is cracking on and our strategy is to stay on time. 

Paul (14:35):
 Well, there's an important one that we've missed out, but we'll leave that one hanging as a cliff hanger 

for maybe another time. 

Chris (14:43): Thank you, Paul. 

Paul (14:45): Thank you Chris. 

Caroline (14:47): 

Well, I hope you've enjoyed the show. Thank you so much for listening. Did you get the answer to the question? Keep it handy because at the end of each calendar month we will be doing a draw of all the correct entries. Full details of how to enter are in the show notes. Till next time, have a baa-rilliant week. Bye. 

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