How to Get Results From Your Team Building Activities – Part One
Posted by Jack Wilkinson on Wed, Aug 02, 2017 @ 09:54 AM
At some point in your career, you’ve probably participated in team-building exercises that made you wonder, “What’s the point?” Maybe they were useless group activities that everyone mocked under their breath. Or maybe they were inconsequential events with colleagues that, while fun, didn’t change the way anyone interacted in the workplace.
Team-building activities don’t have to be this way. They can improve a team’s productivity and efficiency. The key is to approach team building strategically. To do that, you have to know what it means to build a team and how to measure a team’s performance.
What It Means to Build a Team
It would be nice if building an efficient and productive team required no more than hiring skilled workers with agreeable personalities. Unfortunately, teams don’t work that way. Like any successful relationship, team relationships take thought, effort, and compromise. Each person has their own manner of doing things, their own preferences, their own values, and their own strengths and weaknesses. One member of a team might value deadlines and prefer to get work done in a timely fashion. Another might value quality over speed and prefer to take extra time to get things right. If these differences are not acknowledged and addressed, conflict and frustration inevitably ensue.
The purpose of team building is to get the people on a team to work well together. More specifically, team building teaches team members about one another so that their differences serve as a basis for collaboration and innovation instead of conflict and frustration. It’s okay to have social events without much formality or structure, and these can be helpful for team building simply because they allow people to let down their guard and get to know their co-workers on a more personal level. But more structured activities will get you closer to your goal.
Knowing What Activities Are Best for Your Team
When you plan a team-building activity, first take note of who the people are on the team. You’ll want them engaged in a task that brings out their individual work preferences, habits, values, and strengths. Teams with money to spend might opt to participate in some professionally organized game in which their behaviors are observed, but you don’t need expensive elaborate set-ups to see and assess your team in action. You could have them design a fun, informational poster about their team, discuss what superpower would be most beneficial for their job, plan a ten-minute tour of your workplace, or collectively role-play their response to an upset customer.
It’s important, however, that the activity not be part of their work. Employees doing work need to focus on getting the work done and doing it well, not on getting to know one another. Work has its own purpose. Treating work itself like a team-building exercise would be like treating a performance as if it were a practice.