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Team-Building: Using Pinterest For Collaborative Work & Collaborative Fun
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Team-Building: Using Pinterest For Collaborative Work & Collaborative Fun - Executive Leadership Articles

Team-Building: Using Pinterest For Collaborative Work & Collaborative Fun

Executive Leadership Articles

Team-Building: Using Pinterest For Collaborative Work & Collaborative Fun

Team-building activities don’t have to be one-time, off-site, group bonding gimmicks. Many people on the best-functioning teams will tell you that true, professional bonding comes from doing meaningful work together. Sometimes it’s the late-night, deadline-looming, pizza-fueled, ties-loosened, sleeves-rolled-up project that does it; sometimes it’s the long-term planning and execution of something valued by a team’s company and colleagues.

Those kinds of activities happen organically as the natural process of doing whatever work we do, but the kind of team-building it facilitates can be synthesized, as long as it is synthesized sincerely and meaningfully, as opposed to coming across as a novelty or gimmick. An exploding social media platform called Pinterest is increasingly being used in professional settings and may be a useful, on-going tool for building and maintaining your team across time. Many of your employees are likely using Pinterest anyway for their personal enjoyment, so tapping into what for many has become an online passion could give you a quick head-start in nurturing a cooperative, friendly work environment.

For the uninitiated, Pinterest is a website allowing users to collect and curate topic-specific ideas and information. Typically, a user sees a good idea for storing the hundreds of different cables that accumulate from the many electronic devices in our homes, for example. The user then copies and pastes the URL of that idea’s website onto a “pinboard” called “Home Organization.” A photo from the sourced website shows up on the pinboard along with other photos culled from around the web or “repinned” from the pinboards of friends or like-minded strangers. Friends who follow the user’s boards can “heart” a pin, re-pin it to boards of their own, or leave comments on the pinned idea.

The spirit of sharing, “hearting,” following, and commenting that permeates the world of Pinterest has made it a feel-good, positive environment for its users, and what workplace couldn’t use a little more of that?

The employees at Pinterest itself have used Pinterest to collect employees’ ideas for office artwork. Employees pin their ideas to a collaborative pinboard, then leave comments and hearts for each other’s ideas. If yours is a company where the generation and sharing of ideas is part of the business, identify a project—any project—that would welcome ideas from anyone on the team, and ask employees to share their ideas.

If you run a school, create collaborative boards for assessment, bulletin board decorations, or vocabulary-building lessons. If you run a retail establishment, create collaborative boards for window displays, product arrangement, or even creative lighting. If your company has an annual holiday party, create collaborative boards for the food committee, the entertainment committee, the theme committee, and the venue committee. Employees will be free to add pins to any board, whether they serve on the committees or not, thereby offering ideas for the committees’ consideration.

Someone in your company is probably a Pinterest expert. Tap into that employee’s expertise and conduct a quick Pinterest training session at your next meeting. Then give dedicated time for employees to explore Pinterest and share their pins. For every two or three serious boards your group creates, you might add one or two fun boards, such as collaborative boards about workplace humor, or decoration ideas for the employee lounge. In dedicated “Pinterest time,” ask employees to contribute some combination of ten pins, comments, or hearts, and build it into everyone’s workday, including the higher-ups.

A few ideas you might want to consider as you move into this collaborative space:

  • Once you initiate a Pinterest project across a team (or across the organization), commit to it for several months at the very least. You may want to tweak your guidelines and procedures as you go along, but make it clear that this is something you’re going to stick with until a fair assessment of its effectiveness can be gauged.
  • Remind employees that the Pinterest space should be considered an extension of the office: keep interactions and pins appropriate for the workplace, even if pinning from off-site.
  • In order to keep personal and workplace Pinterest boards separate, encourage employees to use their work email for work-related Pinterest accounts only. Employees who use their personal computers for work-related Pinterest activity can use one web browser for personal pinning and another for work-related pinning, to avoid confusion or complication.
  • To encourage productive use of dedicated Pinterest time, have employees meet as groups in conference rooms with tablets or laptops, give them a goal for number of pins, hearts, and comments, and let them work in one space until they’ve met their goals; then rotate another group into the space and have them do the same thing.
  • Have experienced Pinterest users move about during dedicated Pinterest time to offer help or suggestions for any employee or executive who’s having difficulty.
  • Encourage managers to create collaborative boards just for their teams, in addition to contributing to the company-wide boards.
  • Social media works a lot like a spider’s web, with direct connections from each person to the rest; resist the temptation to impose some kind of hierarchal management of this space. Your employees know who the bosses are, so don’t feel you need to remind them. Instead, try to participate along with them, the way you would take your place among them at the tug-o-war rope for the Labor Day picnic.

As your employees build connections through Pinterest, you may see their interactions improve offline as well. An interesting phenomenon that many people experience is the desire to chat in person about shared experiences online. There’s no guarantee of this, of course, but encourage it if you can. A simple question at the water cooler like, “I loved your pin on the community service project board; how did you come across it?” could lead to increased, meaningful communication between colleagues, and hopefully better working relationships as well.


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Team-Building: Using Pinterest For Collaborative Work & Collaborative Fun - Executive Leadership Articles

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