Why Team Building: Improve team cohesiveness

Event planners, managers, facilitators, or anyone else involved in planning a team building event inevitably face the question asked by C-level execs, comptrollers, or stakeholders:  “Why do team building? What are the benefits, and is it worth the time and money we spend?”

We're addressing this question in a series of blogs focused on the benefits of team building. Last week we showed how team building improves communication and participation.This week:  improving team cohesiveness.

Working together to build a bike, uncover clues in a museum or coming up with silly slogans to raise money for charity do not at first seem "practical" in the slightest bit. But these activities create bonds between team members they would otherwise not obtain - connections that carry forth into the day-to-day workplace. This has been borne out in several post-event debriefs and client follow-up interviews I have conducted and may be one of the most significant benefits of team building.

Here’s an example to illustrate the point. At the start of every team building event, we devise a random method to divide the large group into smaller teams for the competitive games that lie ahead. Usually we select a method that gets people involved quickly in some silly fashion. For example, everyone on a given team must find each other in the group by doing their best imitation of a duck, while another group must bay like wolves. Itʼs energizing, funny, and at the same time - because of its overt silliness - bonding for the team.

The point is, once we start to organize participants into teams - no matter how random our selection method - group cohesion begins almost immediately. This team cohesion is reinforced throughout the series of games and challenges in which participants engage during the event. The team bonds forged over the next few hours translate directly into stronger “real world” relationships - and “real world” benefits.

Next week:  reducing and managing conflict.


 

Kick Start the New Year

It's the holidays and there are lots of distractions, even if staff is working. At this time of the year, people are focused on buying presents, the perfect family get together, the kids, time out of the office, and even the dreaded credit card bills. Once the dust settles on the aftermath, the first couple of weeks back in the office can be a little disorganized for everyone as they try to get back into work mode.


These times are when team-building exercises are at its finest, as it helps to bring the focus and the objectives back into view. Kickstart the new year with a team building exercise to jump-start those brains and get together to refresh thinking and ideas for the coming year.

   

The Characteristics Of A Great Team

Do you know how to identify the characteristics of a great team? Indicators of a great working team include how team members work together in a group, deal with conflict, and how they work individually on team assignments.


Characteristics of a great team should include:

  • Members that share leadership and fill in other roles when needed
  • Members who all participate in the generation of ideas, solve problems, and assist in making decisions.
  • Member who respect one another, in addition to support and trust.
  • Members who do everything necessary to get the job done and reach set goals
  • Members who manage any potential and present conflicts by confronting issues and inappropriate behaviors head on.


Team members need to help colleagues work towards developing these characteristics to build, create, and maintain the best functioning teams.

   

Why Team Building: Empower Staff

Event planners, managers, facilitators, or anyone else involved in planning a team building event inevitably face the question asked by C-level execs, comptrollers, or stakeholders:  “Why do team building? What are the benefits, and is it worth the time and money we spend?”

We're addressing this question in a series of blogs focused on the benefits of team building. Last week we showed how team building improves communication and participation. This week:  Empowerment.

Team Building Empowers staff to take initiative and make decisions

In a well-designed team building game, no one is an expert and no one is the boss. The team relies on every member to contribute, take initiative, take risks and make decisions. In our games, we often formalize this and assign roles to each team member that puts each one “in charge” of some fun aspect of the event. That forces each team member to take initiative and make decisions in their own area.

What’s more, the assignments are based on unlikely criteria so that people often find themselves taking initiative in areas in which they may not have ever expected to lead. For example, the person with the most siblings, cousins, and children might be assigned the role of “Diplomat”, in charge of communicating with the Game Director and other teams.

Such initiative is rewarded through success in the game - “winning” - and thus amplified. Amplification reinforces the lesson, allowing it to carry forward into the work place. Success at taking charge and taking initiative is contagious.

Increased sense of ownership

Why the increased empowerment? The answer:  they feel a greater sense of ownership.

As we discussed last week, team building improves communication and participation. When employees communicate and participate more in the organization’s activities, they feel a greater sense that they belong - and that the organization belongs to them. They take greater care of each other and the organization itself. The term “we” replaces “they” with regard to the company’s status and direction. Pride goes up, loyalty increases, and longevity extends as employees devote their energy to making the current workplace better rather than seeking a new one.

 

   

Why Team Building: Improve Communication

Event planners, managers, facilitators, or anyone else involved in planning a team building event inevitably face the question asked by C-level execs, comptrollers, or stakeholders:  “Why do team building? What are the benefits, and is it worth the time and money we spend?”

We're addressing this question in a series of blogs focused on the benefits of team building. Last week’s blog discussed how team building improves morale. This week:   improve communication.

Team Building Improves Communication

Almost every team building game rewards team communication. This is particularly true of competitive games such as scavenger hunts or bike-building games where the short-term objective is to “win.” Participants learn quickly that they need to share information, and that no one person holds a monopoly on Truth, Fact and Know-how when it comes to a game they’ve never played before.

It’s a short step from that realization to its applicability to the work place. Your employees will remember how much more successful they were as a team when they communicated. The fact that they actually had success "playing" together at a team building event, particularly a fun event with positive emotional associations, bodes well for them feeling good about it when they work together, too.

This is in part due to the fact that well-run team building games group individuals into event teams who may not have strong current relationships. For example, if four geographically separated offices come together for a cross-company team building event, it often behooves the company to ensure that each team is composed of members from all four offices. The same could be applied to different departments, levels, etc. in the organization.

This communication improvement also will manifest itself in increased staff participation in organization activities, such as meetings, projects, and decision-making.

Like communication, participation is habit-forming. Once employees learn that their contribution is valued in one arena, they begin to experiment with contributing in others. Likewise, when they learn that the contributions of others are valuable in a “fun” event, they’re more likely to recruit participation in a work setting. This in turn results in higher levels of organizational buy-in for new decisions and initiatives, better quality assurance and a lower likelihood of errors.

Next week:  How Team Building Empowers Staff

 

   

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