TEAM is a powerful word. It can conjure up many images, from your favorite sports team to your close group of friends to your family. It can motivate and inspire you to succeed when you think about the great teams in your life. Your work team should be another team that springs to mind.
There is one thing that makes teams great: combining different skills and strengths to achieve a goal. You can’t play football with just a quarterback, and you can’t run an office with just a manager or a hospital with just doctors (I know quite a few doctors who would disagree but I digress).
Everyone on your team serves a purpose. They are each bringing their talent, ideas and energy to work every day.
But most teams don’t become great by accident – or by magic. It takes intention and effort. Just like any relationship, team relationships take work.
Team building is an important part of any workplace. It may seem trivial, but there are some very important benefits to be reaped from team building. It promotes camaraderie and cooperation, stimulates creative problem-solving, and promotes confidence in co-workers. In short, great teams can produce better than ever work – and the team members can have a lot of fun doing it.
I suggest investing time (and sometimes money) in team building activities. Make it an important part of the team’s foundation. Each office is different and there’s no one-size-fits-all activity but I developed a few guidelines to consider when choosing your team building activity:
- Do consider each person’s physical abilities. If not everyone in your office is able-bodied, that ropes course is probably not a great idea.
- Don’t infringe on personal time. Almost no one wants to spend their weekend hanging out with the people they see at work 40 hours each week. It’s important to give your team members some downtime, so don’t ask them to attend an event when they are normally off work. An annual retreat might be fine to set strategy or celebrate achievement of annual goals but you want your team building activity to happen more often than once a year.
- Do decide what you want to accomplish. Do you want employees to trust each other more? Talk more often? Feel easier around each other? Sometimes the ‘activity’ doesn’t need to be building a house together. If you simply want people to feel more comfortable with one another, get together everyone for a happy hour, or host a company breakfast one day a week. People can get to know each other over coffee and bagels. Many a successful business deal has been made “breaking bread”.
- Don’t isolate anyone. The whole point of team building is to encourage people to feel they belong. Don’t choose an activity that alienates any member of the team, or an activity that will end up embarrassing someone. Ask for ideas before you choose so that everyone can give their input.
- Follow up. It’s important to remember that team building goes beyond one afternoon together. Try to incorporate group activities on a semi regular basis for your workplace so that the bonds formed are reinforced over and over again. Encourage workers to seek help from each other.
Teams can, and should be their own greatest asset. By drawing on the skills and talents of many, organizations can create amazing results and solve bigger problems than they could individually. The whole really is greater than the sum of its parts – make your team the best it can be.