Building Community with Captiv8
Community is a pillar in everything we do — from our founding team’s experience working together as operators at start-ups to the companies and founders we invest in, community is a common thread. At Unanimous, we believe in building a community that brings together the top minds (like chatting with Jerry Rice on leading in uncertain times), leaders, and teams, to build companies that disrupt markets at scale and we encourage our companies to strive towards the same.
Emerging on the other side of the pandemic, many of our portfolio companies have been asking for guidance on helping their teams rekindle the fire that many of them had pre-pandemic, or for some, how to build a community-first culture in a now remote-first workforce. Last week, we joined Captiv8’s off-site, leading sessions on community. Since then, many companies have been reaching out for advice so we decided to share some of our learnings with the world.
Captiv8 grew in size 300% during the pandemic and many of their team only knew each other as rectangles on Zoom and Slack handles. In preparing for their company off-site (the first time the company would all be together again in 26 months), Captiv8’s leadership team asked us to facilitate sessions emphasizing human connection and cross-collaboration from a neutral party point of view, and develop overarching themes that tied the entire experience together.
Their goals: 1) help the team feel like a community and 2) create themes that would inspire both on-site and afterward.
Diving into their themes of gratitude and greatness, we asked:
- How can Captiv8 employees be inspired to achieve greatness in their roles individually and collectively as a company?
- In what ways can Captiv8 inspire gratitude for face time with each other and the opportunity to work together in person?
We tapped our resident community builder and expert, Toni Alejandria, to lead Captiv8’s team in sessions and experiences at the off-site and asked her to share some takeaways:
Opportunity For Every Employee to Be Seen and Heard: A major theme emerging post-pandemic from leadership and employees time and time again is the struggle for team members to be seen and heard. It’s easy to stay silent and shy away from sharing opinions and ideas when group zooms and emails are the majority of how teams communicate with the occasional Slack or Gchat message. In our planning sessions leading up to the off-site, we agreed to carve out a session where employees could have time to reflect, go deep, and share in vulnerable ways with each other — from the newest employee to the founders. The goal was to renew their collective sense of mission, purpose, and value.
The session included human connection exercises, guided reflections and visualizations on personal and professional aspirations, individual goal setting at Captiv8, and opportunities to share with team members (many of whom were meeting for the first time).
We wanted a moment of reflection in the highly programmed agenda as a catalyst to shift gears in how employees saw themselves within their roles and personally in their own potential. We saw discomfort in the beginning when we asked them to hold eye contact with one another and noticed nervousness when told they’d have to share in small groups — their goals and challenges. The session gave everyone equal opportunity to talk openly and be seen and heard. It also provided a single moment for the entire company to see each other in person, pause, and express gratitude for all 120+ employees in the same place at the same time — a powerful reminder of the reality of the fully remote team.
“Toni’s community-building session was a great reminder of how powerful the human connection is, and it personally helped me recalibrate my energy and focus. The most impactful part of the session was when we all sat in small breakout groups to reflect and share our respective goals and challenges. I appreciated how willing and honest we were with each other. I was taken back by the level of trust. For me, it was also a much-needed exercise. We’ve been distracted by all that comes with COVID, work, and family life; it’s easy to lose sight of your personal mission and what dreams and ambitions you want to achieve. This session was a great kickstart to developing an action plan to get there. It won’t be easy, overwhelming at times, but I feel more confident than ever; if I lean into my strengths and the strengths of my colleagues, together, we are unstoppable.” — Nate Armstrong, Strategic Accounts, Captiv8
Space for High-Friction Teams to Solve Problems: It was no secret that growing rapidly during the pandemic as a distributed workforce created culture shifts, both positive and challenging, within some of the teams. When the opportunity to have crucial conversations in meeting rooms or over coffee is not an option, situations can escalate and tensions grow. We knew we wanted to prioritize providing teams an opportunity to have the face time much needed and for some teams, the facilitated conversations required. For the high-friction teams, we facilitated in a way that developed a rapport, and integrated creative problem solving, goal setting, accountability, and opportunities throughout the off-site to continue the conversations.
What was predicted to be met with tension and the unknown led to opportunities for breakthroughs and small wins including shared meals, dance-offs, and cross-team goal setting. Giving teams the opportunity to air their voices, be heard, and collectively immerse into experiences where they can learn about one other and their differences, and address them, equipped the teams with new winds in their sails to continue onwards and upwards, together.
The Human Behind the Screen: It’s easy to forget that there are 100+ people working alongside you to accomplish the same unified goal when a team is fully remote. We wanted to create the serendipitous moments that team members could build foundations on and remember at the end of the day, there’s a person behind every email address.
“As a relatively new member of the Captiv8 team, it was incredible to meet my fellow co-workers at our 2022 off-site in Mexico. Not only was I able to connect with teammates I’d only met virtually, but I was able to meet co-workers I still hadn’t crossed paths with yet.
During our team-building community session with Toni, we were able to spend time reflecting on our personal and professional goals. Tapping into trust and vulnerability, we were able to share our goals with our fellow Captiv8ers in an effort to create new relationships built on the foundation of listening and respect.
It’s amazing to know I’m part of team that understands the value of human relationships and recognizes the power of meaningful connections.” — Noveen Moinpour, Business Strategy and Success, Captiv8
We incorporated getting to know one another throughout the week — questions at meals like, “what’s one event that has shaped you most as a person and how so?” to challenges to discover common threads within groups. All of these layered in with multi-team hangouts, scavenger hunts, and scheduled 1:1’s working in tandem towards teamwork, a core value of Captiv8. We found, that sometimes the easiest way to help develop trust and accountability, build a place where people can thrive, and ultimately create a culture of everyone working together, is to share a meal, high-five, and laugh at the moments that remind us we’re all human.
*For the full CNBC segment on Captiv8’s off-site, watch here.