Staff culture is the determining factor for the success or failure of any organisation. The way team culture is built therefore is critical. Team building activities have long been the go-to response for many managers and organisational leaders. It’s brought groups closer, allowed them to have more fun and given them an activity to assist in building the bond. And yet, dysfunction increases and the time spent on random team building activities can be wasted. Especially if those activities only feed the excitement factor.
When we peel back the layers, the objectives that build great teams are more art than science, although science is quickly being able to define when teams will be a success and when they will not.
When team members take the time to connect with one another, they’re opening up the space for understanding to occur. And when we understand someone, their story, their motivations or their history, we become empathetic. And when empathy is present, we gain an appreciation for the person, but also actively work to make their job easier and their load a little lighter, simply because we understand where they’re coming from.
Now of course, I hope you can see the link, that when we build connection amongst team members it allows them to fully understand and appreciate one another, leading to a more harmonious, productive and united sense of team.
Which team building activities work?
It’s a great question, and unfortunately there is no simple answer. Why? Because it requires the leader or manager to be able to accurately understand their team, it’s needs, the complexities of the members interactions and the desired outcome and culture they wish to create.
So when it comes to team building activities, I’m not talking about more actual ‘designated’ activities. Sorry. What I am suggesting are team building activities that better create the culture and team member connection you’re searching for. That’s the secret sauce.
For example: if what you’re wanting is for team members to be more understanding of one another, taking the time which allows team members to share their personal story, hopes, dreams and fears would be a great place to start. Doing so with minimum restraint on time and staff schedules is paramount, so choosing a time of year when things aren’t hectic is critical.
To get you started, here are some other team building activities to increase team morale:
- Randomly shout the team lunch.
- Celebrate birthdays with something special and unique to the person being celebrated.
- Give a christmas bonus…but something different each year.
- Be transparent and open the management up to questions and feedback.
- Understand each other’s strengths, gifts, passions, hopes and dreams, even if it extends beyond their current work sphere.
- When you have a staff meeting, talk about each other first. Help people feel listened to, cared for and understood. That kind of peer enthusiasm is infectious and does amazing things to teams!
- Periodically (quarterly, monthly, whatever works for you) take time out of your schedules to celebrate the wins within your team. Go out for lunch, play a round of golf, go to the cinemas, have ice-cream at the beach. Do stuff that helps the team bond, but also reminds the team that they are a priority to the organisation.
- Write thank you cards. Often. Tell people what they mean to you. And write it down. By hand. It makes a big difference.
- Give your staff a few hours each month to pursue a personal dream. It may be letting them blog, or go to a seminar/workshop they want to. Whatever it us, help them know that their own dreams are important and that you understand they won’t be at your organisation forever.
Implementing some of these ideas will almost certainly begin to show the people in the organisation they are valued, thought of and important. These team building activities will help build connection and open the space for more spontaneous ideas of team building to occur.
When you take the time to think broadly about your team building activities, I’m sure you’ll find some rippers. And remember, what we’re really talking about is building a solid culture; a work and team culture people love and brag about.
And rarely, traditional team building activities will get those results.
For more great team building suggestions contact us today. We’d love to talk through your options.
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