Team Building Sessions: Efficient and Effective Trainings for Your Team
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"I really enjoyed the activities and having/being part of those lightbulb moments!"
“I enjoyed the open discussions, working towards common goals by depending on each other, and working together. Ros is a great presenter, knows her work inside out, uses real examples, and is very engaging.”
"I think these [sessions] need to be mandatory for people, as it’s very important to make real change. Thanks, it was great! I got a lot out of it both personally and professionally."
Great teamwork is the way to get things done in an organisation. Great teams are created when people are respected and encouraged to work together for a common goal. Teamwork is fostered by mutual respect and people working for and with each other. Making teamwork part of the company culture improves the morale of employees and results for the company.
The need for team-building exercises has been with us for many decades and the pandemic has made it even more necessary as teams fall apart due to people working in isolation at home.
What is Team-Building?
The Oxford dictionary defines team-building as ‘’the action or process of causing a group of people to work together effectively as a team, especially by means of activities and events designed to increase motivation and promote cooperation.’’
Team-building brings individuals together to work on a common goal. Ideally, team-building creates strong bonds between team members because they respect each other even though they are not the same and see things differently. The strong bond is also fostered by a shared common goal.
Team-building is especially successful in team sports where it drives national teams to great heights.
Why is Team-Building Important?
People start yawning when management talks about team-building. Isn’t it a relic of the past? It’s not, actually. People still need to work together to reach shared goals. In fact, team-building is a worthwhile investment for any organisation. After all, it’s an investment in an organisation’s most valuable resource: its people.
Team-building builds trust, resolves conflict, increases collaboration, and encourages communication. Effective team-building helps employees to be more engaged employees, which means they are more productive, which ultimately boosts the bottom line. It can bring people together in fun ways and even result in lasting friendships.
The Benefits of Team-Building
1. Builds trust among co-workers
This is an invaluable benefit of team-building exercises. When co-workers participate in a common goal in a setting that’s not in the office, and when the goal has nothing to do with the project back at work, they relax and let their guard down. When this happens, they speak sincerely and are less concerned about the intrigues back at the office. Communication is more open, and that fosters trust between people. This trust is enhanced when the team achieved a goal during the team-building exercise. When this heightened trust is taken to the office, everyone benefits.
2. Improves morale
There is nothing like a bit of fun to make everyone feel better about life at work. Well-planned team-building exercises are a great opportunity to have fun. Team-building activities that motivate team members to collaborate are better than competitions, because this approach gives everyone a role in the team’s success, which improves morale. Many team-building activities result in a lot of laughter and those shared memories can go a long way to improve morale in the office.
3. Improves communication and tolerance
Many team-building exercises create a scenario where people have to brainstorm to solve peculiar problems, for instance: name 30 uses for a clothes hanger. In order to solve the problem, team members are forced to talk to each other. This type of exercise has the ability to let people reveal a lot about themselves to the benefit of everyone present who now understands the person better. This can lead to improved relationships at work because the new knowledge gained, make people more tolerant toward each other.
4. Reveals hidden skills
For teams to achieve their goal, they need to communicate with each other and arrive at a consensus before acting. This means they must explain themselves and also actively listen to each other to come to a solution. Teamwork in this situation reveals problem-solving capabilities, strategising, decision-making skills, and leadership skills that might not be obvious in the office situation.
5. Improves collaboration
Well-planned team-building activities can lead to better collaboration between employees. Team-building activities outside the office can build trust between co-workers, and help them build relationships outside the office. They get to know other employees, what they do in the company, and what knowledge they might have, which may be useful in the future. In essence, it’s an opportunity to expand their network of contacts at work.
6. Encourages creativity
Many team-building activities put people in unusual situations, which force them to come up with creative solutions. Management can take note of these behaviors and leverage it within the company.
7. Increases productivity
Employees who participate in team-building activities feel that the company values them by investing time and effort in them. Workers who feel valued are more engaged. Research shows that workplaces with a highly engaged workforce are 17% more productive than companies that sit with a disengaged workforce.
How to Develop a Team-Building Program
Identify the issues
Team-building exercises can be a great way to help teams to work well together. The best team-building activities are carefully planned to address issues that teams are struggling with. When you become aware of a problem in your team, it’s time to address it with a targeted team-building event.
Look at how your team functions and try to pinpoint the challenges the team is facing. Plan your team-building activities around these challenges with the aim to help your team overcome them.
Here are some issues that your team might be struggling with.
- One or two people don’t get along and are causing rifts within the team.
- The team members are not communicating properly.
- Some members keep crucial information to themselves.
- The general mood is depressing and lacks energy. Morale is low.
- People don’t know each other so don’t trust each other.
- The team doesn’t have the right skills to get the job done.
Once you have identified your team's issues, you can plan exercises to tackle them. There are specific team-building activities for specific team problems which you can use for this purpose.
Design collaborative activities, not competitions
The purpose of team-building exercises is to get people to work together, not to compete against each other. The idea is for people to learn to collaborate, and to use their strengths for the benefit of the team, not to highlight their weaknesses. What you don’t want is internal competition within the team, so when you plan team-building exercises, keep this in mind.
Communicate the goals of each activity
Tell your team how each activity is going to help the team. If they understand the end goal, they’ll be in a better position for maximum learning. Provide each member with a goal and provide the team with a shared goal. When each member knows exactly what’s expected of them, they won’t accidentally intrude on each other’s territory and cause unnecessary and avoidable conflict in the team.
Get feedback from your team
Don’t plan team-building exercises without input from your team – too often that is a recipe for disastrous failure.
Take suggestions for team-building ideas from your team and use that to plan your activities. This will lead to willing participation and increase enthusiasm for team-building. Be sure to get feedback from your team afterward to find out what their experience was like and what they learned from the exercise.
Don’t always make it about achieving work goals
Sometimes just spending time together outside the office can build much-needed morale. Your activities should always give teams a common goal to achieve, but it need not always be about showing off work-related skills. Simple shared activities can also go a long way to help team members to bond. In fact, that might be the sole aim of your team-building exercise.
It has been found that when people spend time together sharing an experience or a common goal, they tend to bond naturally. Such bonds often last beyond the one day out of the office.
Bring the positive vibe back to the office
Too often the good feelings that were created during the team-building activities are forgotten once everyone is back at the office. It’s important to not let that happen. After all, those feelings were real and should be allowed to continue. Don’t let your team-building efforts go to waste like this. Find a way to let the positive vibes continue in the office. This can be done by letting co-workers connect in the office in ways that don’t necessarily relate to their work together. What about having coffee together in the mornings before work?
Virtual/Remote Team-Building Activities
The pandemic has led to remote working at a large scale, and that has had negative effects on many workers, many of whom no longer feel connected to their companies and co-workers.
Virtual team-building activities can combat these feelings of alienation. They can help to rebuild relationships, which promotes collaboration among remote teams.
Another benefit that must not be overlooked is the ability of virtual team-building events to combat the feelings of loneliness that develop when people work alone from a room at home.
If co-workers can connect with each other online in a relaxed atmosphere, and work together to solve common, fun goals, they are bound to feel better and enjoy their work more as well, which may see productivity levels improve.
Ideas for Virtual Team-Building Activities
Virtual Escape Room
Most people have experienced escape room activities. This can also be experienced in virtual escape rooms. You can search online for virtual escape rooms. Some of the most popular are Virtual Clue Murder Mystery, The Zodiac Myth, The Heist, Remote Adventures from The Escape Game: 1 Prison Break, 2 The Heist, 3Ruins: Forbidden Treasure.
Water Cooler Trivia
This activity was popular before the pandemic and its popularity just keeps growing. Weekly trivia quizzes are delivered straight to the team’s inboxes, and like in the office, spark conversations among team members. Most people enjoy this fun activity every Monday morning before the week starts in earnest.
Virtual City Tour
Get one of your remote team members to show their city to the rest of the team. Teams have done this with one of their members wearing a GoPro and live streaming a ride through their streets and alleys of the city, with live commentary. The city guide can take viewers to the highlights of their city and introduce them to interesting inhabitants.
Virtual Murder Mystery
Virtual murder mystery games let team members act out a murder mystery to figure out which character in the mystery is the killer. Many companies use this to let their teams develop problem solving skills and learn to work together while having fun.
These are just a few of the most popular activities. A quick search on the Internet will introduce you to loads more.
In-Person Team-Building Activities
Team-building activities can be anything from quick ice-breakers in the office before the workday starts to full-on day-long training to tackle certain problems, to training days offered by professional training companies.
In-person team-building is a mature ‘’industry’’ and there are loads of resources online. You can choose activities to solve specific team-related issues, or simply activities to encourage bonding. These activities can be simple and done regularly, like Water Cooler Trivia, or it can be more involved.
It is hard for people to always work in harmony with each other. It’s just human nature to want to do things your way. HR and team managers are aware of this and are continually trying to find ways to improve collaboration in their teams. This is essential for happy, productive teams.
Fortunately, there are many resources online for great team-building activities for both in-person teams and virtual teams.
Final note: you will know that your team-building event has succeeded when people enjoyed themselves and seem more relaxed at work.
Rosalind Cardinal is the Managing Director of Shaping Change, a consultancy specialising in improving business outcomes by developing individuals, teams and organisations.
Ros is a globally awarded facilitator and leadership coach, with a career in the Human Resources and Organisational Development field spanning more than 25 years. Ros' expertise spans leadership development, organisational culture, team building, change and transition management, emotional intelligence, organisational behaviour, employee engagement, strategic direction and management.
Ros is accredited in over 20 psychometrics and diagnostic tools, covering leadership behaviour, organisational culture, emotional intelligence, competencies, and more.
Ros is a Certified Member of the Australian Human Resources Institute, a member of the Australian Institute of Training and Development a Professional Member of the Australian Association for Psychological Type, and a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. She holds a Graduate Diploma in Human Resources and is studying for a Diploma of Neuroscience.
In addition to Ros’ own blog, she is a regular contributing writer for Leaders in Heels, “Thrive”, and “People Development” Magazine.
Ros is a 2020 Telstra Business Women's Awards Finalist. Shaping Change was a finalist in the 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 Small Business Champions Awards, and Ros was a winner in the 2015 Australian Edupreneur Awards. In 2016, 2017, and again in 2018, Ros was awarded Leadership Coach of the Year – Australia by Corporate LiveWire in their Global Innovation and Excellence Awards. In 2016 Ros released her bestselling and award nominated book “The Resilient Employee: The essential guide to coping with change and thriving in today’s workplace”.