Once a year in summer, everybody at TestOut walks across the street to a small park right in the center of Pleasant Grove and sits down to break bread together. Metaphorically break bread, that is. There are usually dinner rolls, and rolls are bread, so bread is definitely broken. That's not what has most TestOut-ers, however, licking their chops for weeks in advance of the this pleasant and collegial get-together. The real attraction is the food or, more specifically, the beef.
TestOut Steak Fry is about team-building and company spirit and rewarding the good work that keeps the wheels of commerce in spin. But it's also about lots and lots of tasty meat. Possibly a couple of hundred pounds of it. Not for everybody, of course: There are herbivores on the staff who content themselves with eating salad, corn on the cob, potatoes, and, a first at this year's big shindig, steamed broccoli. The meaty main course, however, is definitely the raison d'eat-re.
Or perhaps it's not. Eating food, of course, is a welcome byproduct of TestOut Steak Fry. Like many other companies that hold similar events, on the other hand, TestOut benefits from getting everyone together in ways that go beyond that satisfaction of a good smorgasbord. Companies are collective entities, but they rely on the efforts and expertise of individuals. For a company to truly function well, management has to get a whole lot of hands pulling in the same direction.
And that's why some form of team building plays a role in the success of most well-run organizations. Lines of communication are improved, and employees get a sense of each other's strengths, weaknesses, and individual interest. There's more trust and less conflict. Collaboration happens more smoothly, and collaborative projects that might not otherwise occur to anyone are born. Employees become more engaged, more productive, and more invested in organizational success.
If you work somewhere that doesn't currently benefit from a high degree of unity, then you might be pleasantly surprised to see what a little friendly interaction and positive mental energy can accomplish. Like in most other professions, technology workers sometimes get isolated. Even if your job doesn't demand any level of collaboration, you can still benefit from the positive effects of knowing those around you. Start small if you have to — you're likely to see big results in the end.