Western Cape Business News

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DEVELOPMENT: Sanlam, Old Mutual In Teaming Exercise


Recent Western Cape Business News

With economic woes top of mind for most corporate employees, it is increasingly crucial to keep staff morale up and boost efficiency and effectiveness. A number of trends are emerging geared towards doing so without too much capital outlay, one of which is intelligent sport teambuilding. Combining mental, tactical and physical challenges, these inter-company events, such as the Sanlam Investment Management (SIM) South African Challenge which is part of the Challenger World international series, allow for some healthy competition.

Taking place on May 7, the SIM SA Challenge will see leading companies such as Sanlam Investment Management, Old Mutual, Absa, BAT, Foschini, Nedbank and Standard Bank in direct competition. Globally, organisations such as the US Navy, Deloitte, Google, Ernst & Young, Microsoft and Merrill Lynch, among others have participated.

Frederick White, head of Sanlam Investment Management (SIM) asset allocation research – and a member of the team that won the 2008 SIM SA Challenge and was placed second in the world finals - said that this type of event is growing in popularity around the world.

“Employees are the most important resource in any organisation - without human capital a company cannot succeed. Employers should, therefore, strive for a healthy balance between mental agility, physical and emotional wellbeing, teamwork, creative thinking and a positive attitude. The key is in the willingness and foresight of employers to think creativity and get out of the proverbial box.”

White said that, the benefits which intercompany teambuilding are myriad. Here a few examples:

Mental and physical wellness

“Corporate wellness seems to have become a buzzword these days. When your body is at its peak physical and emotional condition, it can achieve more, can push itself far harder and ultimately deal with more stress. In the run up to the SIM SA Challenge, we often encounter fellow team members training for the challenge. When you do well, it encourages you to continue trying. And this leads to a continuous upward spiral in personal motivation, which ultimately has far longer lasting rewards and results.”

Teamwork and communication

“The ability to work in a team and communicate cordially with your team members, with the added pressure of short deadlines, is crucial as is the ability to make quick decisions. In companies, communication breakdowns often happen under pressure and lack of communication often results in greater pressure. In this challenge, you’re forced to act fast, find prompt solution and work as a team. Each member has their weaknesses and their strengths and the secret is to capitalise on those skills and choose the right team members for the right tasks. Team members need to understand each others’ abilities and help one another along in times of weakness. The challenge helps to build camaraderie between colleagues, and establishes a sense of trust, which spills over into healthy relationships in the workplace.”


“The strategising process in this testing terrain could prove invaluable to the strategising process in the boardroom. The process of being able to devise comprehensive, feasible and flexible strategies that everyone buys into together is truly unifying. In the SIM SA Challenge hierarchy is not a factor and each person is placed on an equal footing. The process of devising strategies is democratic and inclusive and everyone participates in discussions.”

Guidelines and questions

“Guidelines are tight and there are rules to which we need to abide. The SIM SA Challenge helps to train you to evaluate all the internal and external factors and devise strategies that fit within those guiding principles. Just like in the corporate environment, you’re given a brief or a mandate to which you need to work and a short period of time to ask questions and discuss ideas before you are required to carry out the task. Asking questions is often the most critical element of ensuring all the information is fully understood – not only by receiving answers to your own questions, but also learning from the questions of others.”

Healthy competition

“Just like in a workplace situation, the added boost of a little healthy competition adds that extra motivating factor. Knowing that there is another team hot on your heels is often that push you need to give you a wake up call.”

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