Most team building techniques elicit little more than a yawn and an eye roll, but that's about to change.
What happens at work when a day of team building techniques and exercises makes it to the calendar? Do people start coming up with excuses to be out on that day? Are there jokes about trust falls and grumbles about how much "real" work needs to get done?
We all know team building is an essential part of a productive, efficient business. Strong teams trust each other, function better, and create more rewarding work experience for those involved.
But those team building exercises and outings? Well, the idea is indeed admirable. The reality, however, is that learning and practicing team building techniques is more than a one-day outing. Creating a cohesive team means continual evaluation, adjustment, and learning.
While there is no single technique or exercise that is perfect for every team, there are plenty of approaches that don't require days away from work or games of charades.
Creative Team Building Techniques
Team building is an iterative process that requires the cooperation of everyone, and that's also an ideal place to start. Get everyone on the same level. Use a website like Survey Monkey to distribute an anonymous survey to find out where your team feels strongest and where it needs help. Be clear that your intent is to build a happier, more involved team. You don't want to inadvertently get rumors going.
2. Lay the groundwork
A strong team starts with a strong manager. It's everyone's responsibility to do good work, but it's a manager, supervisor, or business owner who sets the tone.
3. Communicate, communicate, communicate
There is little that can destroy a team faster than gossip, and a lot of gossip is the result of speculation. Don't let your team fall into this trap.
4. Value everyone
Happy employees equal happy customers, and one sure way to create a happy team is to create an environment of value. Each person on your team has insight and a point of view to contribute. Make sure they have that opportunity. Ask each person their opinion on strategies and goals, and never downplay the response.
5. Set goals
A team needs direction. Whether that's bringing on three new clients each week, increasing sales by 10%, or decreasing waste, every successful team has something they are working toward.
6. Encourage, don't punish
Even the best teams and employees miss their goals sometimes. You aren't going to strengthen your group by threatening people or embarrassing them. Sit down with everyone and figure out what happened. Maybe the goals were too much of a stretch or perhaps something out of your control impeded progress. Focus on what went right, address what went wrong, and move on.
Likewise, be sure to publicly call out successes, and don't overlook the small points of progress. Although success looks different in each situation, some possibilities are pointing out good communication, excellent customer service, or a positive attitude in the face of a challenge.
7. Empower your team
Give your team the tools they need to do their job well. If you're in the food service industry, give your front of house staff the freedom to comp a customer for a mistaken order. If you run a marketing agency, let your writers use their voices.
Team Building Techniques
that your employees will enjoy
To succeed, team building techniques need to move from ideas to movement. The first set of ideas lays the foundation for success, but building a team takes action.
8. Daily download
Part of building trusting work relationships is getting to know each other. Try getting your team together once a day for five or ten minutes to share goals, milestones, or challenges. They don't need to be work-related. Perhaps someone started taking piano lessons. Maybe a coworker's son made the honor roll. Sharing with each other makes us more human.
9. Lunch together
As much as anything, meals are a social experience. Get together weekly for a team lunch. The informal environment gives your team a chance to bond.
Sometimes, team building techniques do require you to get out of the workplace. That doesn't mean you have to spend the day playing games that no one enjoys. There are plenty of opportunities for volunteer work in any community. Help out at a soup kitchen, clean up your local park, or engage a local nonprofit to help with a letter writing campaign.
A survey by Deloitte found that, "for businesses, volunteerism may play a key role in helping attract, retain, and develop skilled talent, as well as growing tomorrow’s leaders." In other words, volunteer work isn't just good for team building, it also has a good ROI for your business.
However you choose to build or improve a team, remember that communication and empathy are key. Value the people around you and the success will follow.
One thing that every business needs, even those with strong teams already in place, is business insurance. Contact your Pekin Insurance agent today to find out how we can help you succeed.