5 Ways To Supercharge Your Team Building Events

December 13, 2015

Successful organizations understand that team building is an important execution on strategy, as members of an organization are encouraged to consider their role as part of a whole and not just individual components. This also encourages staff members to work together towards common goals.  

Recently at a company-wide offsite, the BigSpeak team lined up in two parallel lines (facing each other), index fingers out, supporting a lightweight tent-pole.  Our task was simple – just bring the pole down towards the floor – in unison.  We could talk, collaborate, whatever we needed there were no rules – except one – that our finger could not leave the pole.  20 minutes later, both teams (and the entire group) were frustrated – why couldn’t we do this simple task together, who’s fault was it?  The learnings of this exercise were so simple and so important.  A team must communicate, collaborate and have a shared vision to succeed.

Drawing on his experience as a fighter pilot and sales expert, Lt. Col. (retired) Rob “Waldo” Waldman has observed that “people work harder and go the extra mile when they are appreciated. They also adapt to change and are more resilient (this)…not only improves morale and relationships, it improves performance!” The focus here is primarily on interpersonal relationships and not merely the tasks at hand and can be introduced and reinforced through a variety of team building activities.

  • Trust exercises are one process which may be utilized  at a team building event.Trust exercises generally entail creating a scenario where certain group members are completely reliant on others and must put aside any fears or doubts to complete the task. These are used to increase the level of trust between team members and encourage them to rely on one another.

  • Communication Activities can also be an excellent tool for team building speakers to encourage open rapport between team members.  They often require team members to reach a common goal based solely on directions given by fellow teammates.  This encourages participants to give thoughtful guidance and really work to listen to each other.  

  • Problem Solving Activities have a group of individuals faced with a puzzle for which they must find a mutually agreed upon solution. This develops communication, compromise and decision making skills.

  • Strategic Planning Exercises are similar to problem solving activities. Instead of deciphering a puzzle, these propose a common goal for which the group must plan and execute a means to achieve. This fosters camaraderie, reliance and confidence in each other.

The overlying goal is to encourage individuals to fully embrace the idea of unity and working for each other, not against. Robyn Benincasa (champion, athlete, firefighter and author) recounts the lessons her teammates imparted on her: “I learned that the best teams in the world share not only their strengths but also their weaknesses. I learned that you don’t inspire your teammates by showing them how amazing you are. You inspire them by showing them how amazing they are.”

Team building exercises should be entertaining and enjoyable, but also encourage members to work together to a common and mutually beneficial resolution. Team building events may be organized for a vast array of reasons. They may be held in an attempt to raise productivity and morale or facilitate staff communication.  It might also be in order to identify and resolve interpersonal issues and strengthen work relationships.  Often the purpose is to educate or impart specific skills such as problem-solving, planning and communication techniques.

When properly conducted, a team building event can have tremendous positive impacts on workplace relationships, employee efficiency and overall job satisfaction. However, if administered incorrectly there can be deleterious consequences including frustration, rivalry and resentment.  There are several key components that successful team building professionals employ; incorporating the following lead to a more powerful event:

  1. Objectives must be clear: Event leaders must be able to clearly communicate all instructions and objectives. Participants need to have a firm grasp of goals and expectations to fully benefit from team building events.
  2. Activities must be relevant:  The activities that are undertaken at your team building event must be pertinent.  They need to reflect the real-life problems that are being faced by staff and management in order to affect any positive outcomes.  
  3. Activities must be inclusive: The activities presented must be designed in such a manner that all individuals are able to participate equally. Everyone needs to be up to the tasks assigned.  If any parties feel that they are being excluded or unfairly discriminated against, it will undermine the purpose of the entire event.
  4. Activities must be suitable: Activities should be challenging, but not too onerous; participants should have to work for their goals but not struggle.
  5. There must be follow through: Even the most successful team building event will have been for naught without follow through. Management and staff must be provided with the tools and the means to follow up on their new-found strategies and behaviors.  As with any skill, these must be reinforced and renewed on a regular basis in order to maintain peak retention.

The best way to ensure that your team building event is effective is to employ the services of a professional. 

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