If you asked a group of people to think of the phrase ‘team building’, and then describe the first thing that popped into their head, it would probably be something along the lines of a daft, slightly unnerving teamwork game akin to something you’d see at a child’s birthday party. Not the most appealing thing in the world, I’m sure you’ll agree.
Team building exercises like these may even have the opposite effect, by further alienating the members of the team. To be fair, if you had to play party games with your boss and a group of people you don’t know too well, you’d probably want to run and hide afterwards, too.
If these thoughts or similar are running around your head as you read this, you’re not alone. Many find these run-of-the-mill team building activities to be dull, patronising, and frankly, slightly odd. It can be hard to relate a game of blind man’s bluff to a regular day in the office.
Team building is, of course, the performance of activities to increase levels of communication and camaraderie between a group of people, in order to increase productivity and morale in the workplace. There are many ways to do this that don’t have to involve feeling like you’ve accidentally joined a child’s party, thankfully.
As well as highlighting just a few of the many benefits of team building activities, we’ve came up with some alternative ways to tackle team building.
Make a reward out of it
One benefit of team building activities is that they tend to boost positive spirits in the workplace. Why not kill two birds with one stone and make a team building activity a reward for your employees? You don’t even have to let them know it’s a team building activity.
If your workforce reaches a certain target by the end of the month, why not treat each member to a certain amount on a bar tab, gift voucher, or ticket to an event? As well as giving the employee something physical to work towards (which will boost productivity tenfold), it’s also the perfect opportunity for employees to bond and communicate outside of the workplace.
Improve your employee’s relationship with work, and relationships within the workplace
Even the most motivated of employee’s work will suffer if all of their time is focused on just that. Let your employee’s know that work isn’t 100% about working by implementing team building activities into their routine. Be it a weekly achievement/accomplishment-sharing session, or having a reward scheme set into place; team building will further enforce that work is a positive thing, and that each employee is valued. This will further raise productivity and morale in the workplace, alongside the activities themselves.
They’re called team building activities for a reason! They’re the perfect opportunity for employees to communicate in a way that they wouldn’t be able to whilst working. Even if you enjoy and fully immerse yourself in your job, it can still be quite unnerving having to work closely with people you don’t know very much about.
Uncover strengths and weaknesses
Everybody has different strengths and weaknesses. The majority of the time, the initial job interview will have the employee and employer discuss these, but for obvious reasons, many people will downplay their weaknesses, whilst perhaps doing the same to their strengths as to not appear bigheaded.
Instead, some form of team building activity could help employers to observe an employee’s strengths and weaknesses covertly. Perhaps hold a group interview before the formal individual interview takes place. Here, it may be necessary to suggest the aforementioned team building games, as they are often the easiest way for these strengths and weaknesses to come to light.
For example, a popular option for group interviews is to host a game of show and tell. Ask the employee to bring in an item that they think represents themselves and their more positive qualities. This is a good way to get an indication of the employee’s creativity, confidence, and individual personality, without seeming too intrusive or obvious.
Of course, you may not be taking any new employees on in the near future. If you already have a trusty workforce and a stable(ish) routine figured out, it can often be difficult to suss out each and every employee’s strengths and weaknesses.
If this is halting you from hosting an effective team building activity, or if you’re struggling to evoke camaraderie in the office regardless, there’s a solution to both of these problems…
Communication is key
If you feel like your workplace is lacking in spirit a bit, organise an informal meeting with the intent of discussing possible team building activities. Stress the importance of team buildings to your colleagues, and aim to set a date for the first possible event. Make sure to keep a list of the activities or events that the entire workforce would like to take part in, and the ones that they wouldn’t, for future reference. Even just by hosting a meeting, you’ll have crossed over the employee/ employer border slightly, and your workforce will know that you value them as a team.
If you think some form of reward scheme will be more appropriate or beneficial to your workforce, make sure to discuss this with them also.
By Jenny Pink, Director of Accomplished Events