The rushing, swirling waters of the river don’t care who is sitting in a raft navigating their territory. The waters are likely to have their way whoever is on board!

Whitewater rafting defines teamwork
Synchronisation and trust in each other are essential to keeping control of the raft. Complex manoeuvres in fast currents and tight passages around ledges soon test who is in control – the team or the river!

If paddling is not in synch when going into a rough patch, the river will take control and the team is likely to be tossed into the water.

The virtues of teamwork, trust and communication all come into play in rafting and rowing.

What do rafting and rowing sports have in common with human resources in business?

The number of crew members aboard any project team may vary, but teamwork is always essential to keep the “boat” afloat.

Direction or Destruction?
Yet even when the boat stays above water, without a common direction the rowers will find that they quickly run out of energy and resources.

There may be individual stars in every rowing team but what is important is that all move in harmony, support one another and work towards success for the team. If everybody followed their own way the boat would spin in circles.

In business as in rowing, success comes from a common effort to stay on course, follow the right rules and reach the finish line.

On some days, the winds and water help the boat to make progress. On other days it may seem all the elements are determined to stop it. When that happens, adaptation is the only way to survive. Rowers might have to modify their tactics midstream, or even swap roles in order to keep going. Businesses, too, need to be flexible with their strategies and job roles.

The best practice – in both rowing and business – is to keep the crew regularly updated on their progress. Whether they are about to win or lose a race or win or lose sales, improvements can’t happen without communication - a solid understanding of where the team is up to. Every crew member will then feel responsible and be accountable for his or her contribution to the team.

Rowing teams work countless hours to develop a common language as well as muscle coordination. There is a lot of unspoken communication in rowing. Business team leaders could learn from it and review how they are communicating with their teams by the energy they exude.

With teamwork properly managed, the boat and the business will always stay afloat and move in the right direction at the right speed!