Effective team building exercises

Dec 18, 2017 by

The modern business environment is complex and features apparent contradictions. On the one hand, we are more dispersed than ever – the traditional office setting is rapidly becoming a thing of the past, as remote working, hot desking and other flexible working arrangements become the norm. At the same time, however, there is a more holistic focus, as managers and strategists see that employees are more productive and motivated if they understand and are engaged in the overall strategy of the company.

That means that the way employees interact with one another is both more important and more complicated than ever, and it points a spotlight at the subject of efficient team building.

Why is teamwork so important?

Businesses in every industry operate in a more competitive environment than ever, and when employees are working together like a well-oiled machine, it can create an edge that is almost impossible to replicate. There is no arguing with the old saying that two heads are better than one, and effective teamwork encourages innovative problem solving and improves morale.

Team building exercises can get the optimum return out of an organization’s most valuable asset, which is its people. And with modern teams often dispersed across a range of locations, getting it right needs more thought and attention than ever.

Team building goals

Before we look at some team building strategies, it is essential to be clear about what they are aiming to achieve.

A set of individuals does not transform by accident into that well-oiled machine previously mentioned. Team members need to know, understand and trust one another, and have the confidence to provide support and give or receive constructive criticism without fear of ridicule or reprisal.

Team building exercises

Mention team building exercises and many individuals will heave an inward sigh as they envisage enforced hilarity as office colleagues try to build a raft or compose an opera together. Activities like these have their place, but there are simpler, cheaper and potentially less controversial activities that can easily be incorporated into routine office life.

1) Regular meetings

The team will never coalesce if it does not communicate clearly, so get everyone together as often as you can. In the 21st century environment, this does not have to mean physically – a weekly call on a platform such as Skype or Slack is almost as good as the real thing. After all, every one of us is accustomed to social interactions online these days, and many of us communicate with our friends more often via WhatsApp or Facebook messenger than we do in real life.

The important thing is to get together whether you need to or not. Use the time to update each other as to ongoing projects, and with that out of the way, spend some time talking about non-business matters.

2) Play together to stay together

Those qualities relating to trust and confidence among team members will be easier to achieve when people get along socially. For teams that are based in the same physical location, this might be through sports teams, lunch clubs and the like. But even if they are geographically dispersed, you could set up a lottery syndicate. Nothing brings people together like the countdown to next draw, and the anticipation of a California lottery jackpot win!

3) Job shadowing

Many of us fall into a role almost by accident, and people with potential can end up leaving because they are a poor fit for their given job. Shadowing gives them the opportunity to learn more about the broader company, to understand how they fit into the big picture and potentially even find a new role that will be more rewarding to both them, the team and the organization. Job shadowing leads to more engaged employees, reduced staff turnover and can potentially solve some management headaches when it comes to succession planning for key roles.

Healthy teams make for a successful company

These are just a few of the team building activities you could consider bringing into the workplace, but the possibilities are endless. Just remember the cautionary example of the raft building activities from earlier. It is important to think about the team members themselves and to adopt activities that will be met with enthusiasm, and not reluctance. If in doubt, there is no reason not to canvass opinion from within the team as to what they would like to do.

Get your team building strategy right, and productivity will rise, staff turnover will reduce and your company will gain a reputation as a fantastic place to work.

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