Abercrombie & Fitch is a global fashion brand with more than one thousand outlets worldwide, and thousands of employees. The brand’s operation in Hong Kong is comparatively small, with only 40 people based in the city.
Under such circumstances, it is easy for a satellite team to feel isolated from headquarters which is why the brand hired an external consultant to help the local team stay connected.
Lisa Goldsand, group vice-president of sourcing operations at A&F, was one of the senior executives from headquarters who made the trip to Hong Kong to participate in the one-day team building training organised by JustWork.
“The company’s motto is ‘one team one dream’. The goal of the team building day was to ensure the Hong Kong team views themselves as one healthy functional group and that they feel they can support each other,” she said.
Carman Chow, HR and sourcing strategy manager for A&F, who served as an observer for the team building event, said it was the first time the company had hired an external vendor for team building events.
Goldsand believes an external host is capable of bringing a bigger impact to the team compared with having someone who the team is familiar with.
“A stranger can engage and mobilise the group better than any associate who the group sees every day, and who the group may see in only one way based on his or her role in the company,” she said.
Added Chow: “It’s our third year to have a team building event. We wanted a different voice to comment on our team. JustWork understood our needs and proposed the team building game which matched our goals and objectives this year.”
On the day, 40 employees from different departments, including product compliance, sustainability, IT, finance, supply chain, store asset protection, global procurement, tech design and store maintenance, covering all levels of seniority from a junior assistant to a global vice-president, participated. More than one third of the participants were managerial level.
The participants were divided into different teams and provided with tools and parts to design and build a device that was capable of safely transporting a ball from a starting point through different obstacles to a destination.
Perhaps the bigger challenge was in the final stage as all the teams needed to put their creations together to transport the ball safely to the finish point.
“All the teams seemed to be working on their own tasks, but they were all interrelated and contributed to the success of the company,” explained Kayley Lo, sales director of JustWork, who was responsible for running the event.
Chow said the feedback from staff was positive and many of them felt amazed to achieve the goal collaboratively.
“It was our first time to have an external party to co-ordinate the team building event,” she said.
On the team building event, she observed that staff were becoming more comfortable to share their different thoughts or suggestions within the same team or with other teams as the event proceeded. A key indication that team members had become more cohesive.
Goldsand agreed, saying the associates seemed to grow closer as a result of the activity.
“At the end they were relaxed and laughing together. The activity really brought people together,” she said.
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