Depending on the company you work for, the mere mention of a “team building activity” will either make you jump in excitement or run away leaving a underpaid-employee-shaped hole in the wall. Organising a team building activity is an art in itself — and one that is very hard to master, at that. When done well, it boosts morale and encourages camaraderie among team members, but when poorly managed, it can become the stuff of nightmares.
But before we talk about that, let’s start with some basics…
What is a team building activity?
A team building activity is an activity (duh) designed to strengthen the relationships and define roles between members of a certain organisation. People recommend them because these occasions offer a break from the day-to-day routine and allows coworkers to interact with each other in a casual and relaxed setting. These activities are said to:
- Improve productivity
- Increase motivation
- Foster problem solving
- Boost creativity
- Enhance communication
- Keep employees motivated
- Develop problem solving skills
Morale building VS Team building
The first are designed to make people happy. These activities include going out to dinner and staying late on Fridays for a pint with colleagues. While they might be enjoyable, they don’t necessarily take people out of their comfort zone. Don’t get me wrong, a team building activity should be fun as well, but if it isn’t also challenging then it will never serve its purpose. Remember, morale is for happiness and team is for productivity.
This all sounds fantastic, but what’s in it for the employer?
Leaders and managers should be interested in organising these types of outings because they make workers feel appreciated, which in turn increases employee loyalty and a loyal employee is one that will not only go the extra mile, but also keep their job for a long time. Simply put:
Better collaboration = Better Productivity = More Profit
Speaking of teams…
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- What team building is really for
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- To do and NOT to do
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The do’s of a team building activity
As this poor man above can attest, team building activities can go very wrong when not carefully planned. In order not to have the Head of Marketing and the Content Manager shoot paint balls at each others groins, it is important to consider the what’s, who’s, and when’s of the outing.
Before the activity
Choose something everyone will enjoy
It will be impossible to please everyone, but at least choose an activity that most can enjoy. If you go for a sporting venture that will get the adrenaline junkies exited, then maybe next time you can choose something a bit less interactive for those who would rather exercise their brain instead.
Consider the final goal
What do you intend to accomplish? Do you want to improve communication between departments? or do you simply want to instil a sense of pride in the company? The final goal will influence the activity selection.
Plan it during work hours
Nobody wants to miss a potential lead or fall back on a client, but office activities must be planned during work hours because otherwise coworkers might recent you for taking their spare time away from them. Time that could be used to spend time with family or practicing hobbies. Must businesses have a “slow” period; aim for those when planning these endeavours.
Get people out of the office
Whenever we step into the office, we get into “work mode”. Get away from the telephones, boards and computer screens in order to have people fully concentrate in the activity.
During the activity
Set clear tasks and goals
Just because it is an activity that’s taking place outside the workplace, it doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be a clear purpose, even if it’s just to “have fun”. Make sure everyone in the team knows which these are and stick to them.
Allow everyone to voice their opinion
Even if they’re the lowest rank. This can be done by giving them a saying in the selection of the activity or giving them a management position for the day.
Set rules together
Encourage participation when it comes to setting up rules and boundaries. People are more accountable when they break laws they helped create themselves.
Don’t forget you’re still the leader
Aside from the obvious, “how to get there” and “what to eat”, the role of a manager during a team building activity should be the one of a “scientist” if you will. Studying its team members and taking notes on their behaviour. What they do or not do, should give you some insight on what you can apply to the everyday corporate routine.
But take it easy
You may still be the manager, but the whole point of the outing is to have a different type of day. If you’re too serious about it then the fun will be sucked out of it and nobody will enjoy it.
After the activity
Ask for feedback
Your coworkers will give you a different perspective on how the outing played out. These opinions will give you valuable information you can use on your next pursuit. Maybe the goals need to be adjusted, or perhaps your coworkers would prefer a different type of plan. Whichever it may be, take notes so you can apply changes next time.
Is your office planning a team building activity in the near future?
If so, can you imagine how cool everyone would look like if they had some sort of uniform? Get your coworkers a branded tee and they will not only perform as a team, but also look like one.