‘Time for team-building activities.’
Most management books encourage them. Most business gurus endorse them. But for many employees the idea of participating in team-building activities often leads to some less than positive reactions, with their emotions running the gauntlet from boredom to embarrassment.
The research is available that backs up the effectiveness of team building and it has long been acknowledged that, when done right, team-building activities build trust, calm conflict, encourage communication, and increase collaboration. Effective team building also means more engaged employees, which is good for company culture and boosting the bottom line.
But even so, all too often employees think team-building is lame. So managers drop the idea. But it does not have to be that way. You can offer team-building activities that do all the things they are supposed to do-and more- by simply changing the way you approach them. Here are some tips and ideas to get you started.
Stop Trying to Educate
The most successful team-building activities are those that do not feel like a lecture or just another meeting in the conference room, but this time one with whiteboards filled with ‘games’ instead of sales figures. Activities that are obviously designed to ‘teach life lessons’ or overtly push the corporate agenda feel more like a day back in high school, and not a fun day either.
The best team-building days are those that do involve everyone spending time together, sharing an experience or working towards a common goal, but they are not necessarily corporate goals. For example, challenging your staff to learn a line dance to perform together at a local bar is likely to create more bonding and camaraderie than a whole day in the conference room ever could.
Go Beyond the Company Picnic
Now that we have established that the best team building experiences take place out of the office, where should you go? The idea of things like a company picnic are rather dated at this point and for some the idea of this kind of forced socialization is uncomfortable and something they would rather avoid.
Learning and wellness, both emotional and physical, are more closely linked than you might imagine. Instead of throwing yet another office party that half of your staff may try to avoid choose something more unique that challenges your team to try new things. Ziplining. Rock-climbing, or even one of those paint and sip art classes that are so popular at the moment are just a few of the activities you can consider.
See Team Building Activities As An Investment, Not An Expense
Some managers may balk at the idea of using company dollars to pay for a night out at the bar, or for an afternoon spent rock-climbing. Budgetary concerns aside they feel that such things will be perceived by their own superiors as frivolous and silly.
However, as they are likely to be far more effective than another day spent in the office the improvement in morale, productivity and general employee satisfaction that should result from these experiences will give you all the evidence you need to prove they are nothing of the sort.