Earlier this month we discussed the benefits of team building done right and also the need to be consistent with team building over the long term. However, employees don’t want to feel like they have to “perform team building” in order to make management happy. So how can you reap the benefits of team building exercises without making your employees feel like they are being put on the spot?
One way is to routinely inject team building exercises into the work day. Include them in meetings, daily to-dos, etc. If they are part of the regular workday these activities won’t seem so unique and out of place, and they may be activities you should be doing for other reasons anyway.
Some examples of these might be:
Went Well/Went OK/Could Be Better - Use this process for quarterly retrospectives and project post-mortems. Have everyone jot down on Post-it notes things they thought went well, things they thought went OK, and things that didn’t go well or could have been done better, and sort the Post-its into their respective categories. Next talk it out and come up with potential solutions to the problem areas. This exercise feels like just another aspect of the meeting – not specifically team building.
Solve a Puzzle – At the beginning or end of daily or weekly meetings, ask members to solve a puzzle or a brain teaser that requires thinking and brainstorming out loud. The key is that everyone has to contribute to the success of the project. Once they’re done or time runs out, ask your team: What was your strategy to solve it? Who did what? Why did you make the decisions you did? Allowing everyone to think through their process can highlight unique perspectives or strengths in each individual.
Idea Board – When starting a new project or event, have everyone come to the meeting with three to five ideas. Talk through them, and have people contribute additional thoughts, questions, or concerns. By making new projects and event planning team activities you get more perspectives and ideas and ultimately a better outcome – you also get a more bonded team.
These “during the day activities” won’t feel like team building exercises, but these work related discussions will create closer team bonds, highlight new and different perspectives, and (if well facilitated) include all team members – not just the strongest voices.
Companies can also offer out of the office events that don’t specifically have to be put in the “team building activities” box. Some ideas might include:
Volunteering – Participating in a community service effort might either be an all company or all department event for a day, or a sign-up activity just for those employees interested. Volunteering with co-workers is a great way to bond and make a positive impact on the community!
Intramural League Sports – If you have employees that like to compete, creating a team that plays against your competitors or other corporate teams in the area might be a great bonding experience. Even more employees can get involved to cheer on the team, help with cooking burgers after a game, or more.
Start a Book Club – This could be focused on business books related to your industry or department’s function, or just books everyone is talking about. Set aside a special time to discuss the book, encouraging everyone’s input. Adding snacks or lunch will make it even more fun. This could be a great way for remote workers to connect, and for everyone to learn something new.
With a little creativity and out-of-the-box thinking, team building can become an integral part of your company culture. Just make sure that your efforts are consistent and you don’t get into that “just need to check this off the list” mentality. The effort is well worth the long term benefits in employee engagement, improved communication and retention!
By Ann Condon, Marketing Manager
Ann Condon has been with Dion for 17 years, working in Dion’s Marketing and Business Development Department. Although this was her first position with a jewelry manufacturer, she has learned a lot over the years. Ann enjoys getting involved in “All Things Dion” from volunteering at the Dion Golf Tournament to being a part of the Dion Diamonds Relay for Life Team. She has quite a number of Dion event t-shirts to show for it!