Surely irrelevant exercises aren’t more productive than the work itself… right?
Team building exercises are a way of stepping back and reflecting. They are metaphors for work, without any damaging consequences. Done well, exercises can boost morale, help employees learn how to better work with each other, and feel like play.
But it’s important to address the negative views on these exercises and why some people say they don’t work.
DEBUNKING MYTHS ABOUT TEAM BUILDING EXERCISES
Mention team building exercises and you’ll get plenty of naysayers. Exercises have been called a waste of time, useless, awkward, and annoying. But people use “team building” to refer to anything from office trust exercises to happy hour with your coworkers.
While spending informal time with coworkers might help you get to know them, there’s a difference between effective team building exercises and simple recreation.
TEAM BUILDING EXERCISES VS. RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES
Socializing is not the same thing as team building. Exercises should have a concrete end-goal. Ideally, they require employees to make use of the same skills they need for their daily tasks. Team building exercises give employees the tools they need to work well together.
The confusion comes in when team building exercises are advertised as simply fun, casual downtime. It helps to have fun with your exercises, but fun isn’t the end goal. Recreation is unstructured and employees are left to engage as much or as little as they want. Team building exercises, however, involve all team members equally.
ELEMENTS OF EFFECTIVE TEAM BUILDING
Before the activity begins, the CEO or someone in high-level management should clearly explain the purpose of any planned team-building exercises. The briefing is an important time to get everyone on board and on the same page. This is your chance to interest and excite any less-than-enthusiastic employees.
Remember, exercises aren’t unstructured time, so you should have a dedicated facilitator on the scene to keep teams on track. The facilitator can also address any complaints and draw clear connections between the exercises and employees’ day-to-day responsibilities.
One common team building mistake is to let employees finish without any wrap-up. At the end of your exercises, hold a debriefing and discussion. Invite employees to share thoughts on their experience, how they worked together as a team, and reflect on value gained from the exercise.
TRANSFERRING TEAM BUILDING TO THE WORKPLACE
One-time team building exercises are useful, but in order to create long-term stability, you’ll need to bring these lessons back to work. Fortunately, you can continue to foster a team building mindset with a few simple tips.
GET TO KNOW YOUR TEAM
Don’t stop all attempts at socializing after the team exercises are over. Showing genuine interest in your employees’ well-being and personal milestones can go a long way.
Encourage this behavior across the company by writing cards, celebrating with cake, or even bulletin board announcements. Physical reminders of your coworkers’ personal lives make it easier to remember there’s more to know about a person than their office title.
SHARE A COMMON VISION
Team building exercises unite employees around a single, temporary goal. But the whole company should have a shared vision of where they’re headed and common goals that keep them working in unison. Consider putting departmental goals into place, or even encouraging friendly competition between sales teams to mimic the atmosphere of team building exercises.
SCHEDULE FUTURE EXERCISES
Plan for more team building exercises at a later date. They don’t have to be frequent, but holidays and work anniversaries are great excuses to dedicate a little time to team building. Of course, be sure to adjust your exercises based on the needs of your team, recent workplace concerns, and the success of previously held exercises.
BENEFITS OF TEAM BUILDING EXERCISES
Team building exercises allow employees to get to know one another and become accustomed to working together. They provide tasks that mirror real work activities without any risk of failure.
Sure, your team might not survive the zombie apocalypse, but they’ll probably get over it soon.
Several benefits that can come out of team building exercises include:
- Encouraging team spirit
- Giving employees a stress-relieving outlet
- Reinforcing company values and culture
- Allowing time for reflection and suggestions
- Boosting morale
While real team building happens over time, conducting exercises in the workplace can speed up the process. Leave space for team building activities and encourage your team to form a team mentality. Remember, team building exercises are an investment in your team as well as the well-being of your company.
Email us or call 02 8073 4416 to book a team building experience today.