Teambuilding Dos and Don’ts
No matter how hard some might try, the truth is that no one can do everything all by themselves. We need the assistance of others to accomplish tasks we can’t handle on our own, a team we can rely on to reach results together.
However, working with others can prove difficult. Clashing personalities and conflicting workstyles will only end up holding everyone back if not properly managed. With the right kind of leadership, even the most differing employees can learn how to cooperate for the good of the company, but it takes serious teambuilding to reach that point.
Indeed, proper teambuilding principles and well-structured teambuilding exercises are essential for boosting cooperation, performance, and productivity amongst the workforce. What’s more, creating a safe and healthy work environment fosters a strong company culture, increases morale, decreases employee turnover, and contributes to the long term success of the business.
Events and activities are always nice ways to break up the monotony and provide employees the opportunity to grow closer and have some fun, but special occasions alone are not enough. Policies and procedures within the business itself must aim to create a friendly and open atmosphere, one where communication is encouraged and conflicts are addressed and resolved before they spiral out of control.
The policies and procedures will need to be personalized to suit your business’s unique circumstances, but these dos and don’ts will still apply.
Do: Have regular meetings and polls on staff’s feelings regarding workplace morale and cooperation. Give them the chance to express praise for good policies and report issues they’re encountering with bad ones. Show them their input is important and that their feelings are recognized by using this feedback to make adjustments and improvements to policies and procedures.
Do: Praise and acknowledge team achievements and contributions to the company. Congratulate teams on a job well done, provide positive feedback on their performance, and make sure they know their efforts are appreciated by the company. Doing so allows the team to share a sense of accomplishment and take pride in the work they completed together, fostering strong bonds and giving them the motivation they need to continue to grow. If they feel close as a team, they will naturally encourage one another to improve and innovate.
Don’t: Ignore how your employees operate with one another. Recognize their skills and struggles, taking note of what accomplishments they’ve made and what challenges have held them back. By understanding their unique dynamics, you can optimize teams by putting together employees whose talents and abilities complement one another, while ignoring these aspects may result in teams of incompatible employees who cannot properly perform their assignments due to conflicting personalities or lacking important traits needed for finishing the job.
Always remember that one of the most effective ways of fostering a strong team is by allowing them the chance to try new things. If they have ideas on how to improve situations or perform tasks more efficiently, review their proposals and, if it seems plausible, give them the freedom to try. Mind you, this means you must also give them the freedom to fail, and accepting that the idea may not work as well as you’d all hoped.
Yes, this can be disruptive at times, but the resulting learning experience can either reinforce why the original method was better or reveal what changes need to be made for this new idea to function properly. Account for the possibility of failure and prepare back up plans to get back on track should you need to, but don’t hold the outcome of the experiment against those involved. Innovation requires trial and error, you need to test new ideas in order to refine them, but doing so will bring your team together in the process, and the fruits of their labors will benefit the business.
As for events, start by having a goal in mind and then developing details around making that goal happen. Are you trying to make everyone more familiar with one another, perhaps bridge gaps between old staff and new hires? Do you want to give them a break after a particularly strenuous quarter, or are you instead focusing on improving their communication skills? If you need to, consider consulting a professional team building event organizer for tips and suggestions, both on setting goals and on devising ways to carry them out.
Keep in mind aspects such as budget and schedule, as you don’t want your event to cost too much, nor do you want it to interfere with your employees’ personal or professional time. If you’re thinking of going to a bar, be aware if any employees are trying to stay sober. If you are taking them to a restaurant, be mindful of any dietary restrictions and ensure the menu will accommodate them. If you want to visit a special area, make sure the weather is expected to be pleasant and that the location is easily reachable.
Attending a workshop, a class, or a lecture can be nice if the speaker is charismatic and the venue is comfortable, but a dull presentation or cramped space will only bore or frustrate the team, especially if it interferes with their deadlines or personal time. Remember that people have lives outside the office, they may not like having to lose time with their families so they can be with the coworkers they see often enough already.
Much like with the teambuilding principles, there are certain key points you’ll want to remember when planning events.
Do: Make teambuilding event challenges that relate to the work the team does, but not too closely or constantly. A challenge that imparts a lesson they can carry over to their projects is useful, but an important part of these exercises is also getting away from work and having the chance to grow closer as a group.
Do: Get feedback after the event, provide the opportunity for team members to provide honest thoughts on how it went and what they liked or didn’t like about it. This will give you the chance to improve or adjust future events, and demonstrate to the higher ups that these events are worthwhile.
Do: Take pictures and videos of teambuilding event and activities, as these can make for wonderful mementos. Putting these pictures around the office can give employees reminders of good times and lift their spirits when they’re feeling stressed or worn out, inspiring them to find strength within themselves to overcome challenges they are facing.
Don’t: Make teambuilding event challenges that are too physically strenuous, as not all team members have the same strength or stamina. Being unable to accomplish a challenge due to their physical abilities will result in shame and resentment, and may result in even greater disconnect amongst the team.
Don’t: Assume teambuilding events will fix all your team’s problems. Even the best events can be held back by team members who simply don’t get along, in which case it may be best for management to separate them into different teams or find other ways to encourage cooperation between them. On the other hand, poorly run events can further deteriorate morale and cooperation, such as by causing frustration and inconvenience, which may actually increase turnover.
Due to the current pandemic, events that involve people gathering together at one place simply aren’t safe. It is unfortunate, but in time, it should pass. Until then, try holding virtual meetups with games and other such challenges or activities that employees can engage in while remaining safe and separate.