The Most Effective Team Building Activities
We all know that teamwork, or effective collaboration, is a “good thing.” Teams that work well together – and that trust one another – are more likely to produce high quality work, and organizations with interdependent workstreams and structures benefit from improved financial performance.
So, what is the secret to improving teamwork? Hint: it’s not trust falls or a communal ping pong table. Read on for our top tips for choosing the most effective activities to build up your team.
Assess and address root causes
While a one-size-fits-all solution would be great, at the end of the day, every team is different. Ask yourself: why do I want to focus on team building? Is it to bring us from good to great, or is there a problem we need to focus on and address? What does success look like for my team?
For some teams, the answer is increased trust; for others, the goal is focus; and for others still, it’s about improving communication. Understanding your goals – and the obstacles that keep you from achieving those goals today – will help you to select and structure a team-building activity that will be relevant and yield lasting impact.
Make sure everyone is on board
Oftentimes, people are skeptical about team building. They are busy, they are stressed, and they don’t understand the value of focusing on this other, fluffy thing you’ve dumped into their schedules. It is essential to get people on board before the activity commences, so that you can spend your time together moving forward, rather than convincing people to pay attention. This means you need to communicate the importance of the session beforehand. While an email blast is efficient, the best way to get buy-in is not to talk (or to type), but to listen. Ask the right questions, and pretty quickly you’ll be able to lead people into saying “hey, I think we need to focus on team building.” Once you present your activity as addressing a problem they care about, they’ll enter the room with a whole different attitude.
Get out of the everyday
During your activity, you want everyone attentive, energized, and present. One of the best ways to make this happen is to leave the office: getting people into a different physical space can do wonders for changing their mental space as well. If you can’t get out of the office, or if it doesn’t make sense in your context, think of an activity to start the session that will jolt people out of the everyday and give them fresh perspective. We love a quick yoga stretch or meditation at the start of team building sessions, or a smudging.
Make it about work
Finally, even though you want to get out of the everyday grind for your session, you’ll see diminishing returns if you divorce your team building activity from the work that you do. While a night out can build team relationships, it is more effective to strengthen your team by giving them the tools and the opportunity to co-create an innovative solution to a tough work-related question. Taking time to work on the business, rather than in it can do wonders for team members regardless of their title. It is essential to tie your team building activity back to work, so that your team can understand how to change their behaviour moving forward.
By: Elissa Gurman
A strong executive team works at continuous improvement.
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