Some see the inherent value in such exercises, but others see them as expensive folly, resulting in a jolly social outing but little more. Like anything else, value lies in the team-building activity being suitable and well-organized. With that in mind, here are five team-building themes that should really help to advance staff output.
Get out and get active
The value of getting active far exceeds the limits of improved work productivity. No matter what your line of work, getting up and getting out will take your employees out of their familiar everyday surroundings, and also take many out of their regular work comfort zones. Popular activities here include nature walks, orienteering sessions, or a regular sporting event such as softball or bowling. Whatever the activity, make any objective inclusive and team-oriented instead of competitive, which can have detrimental results. If you see that the activity is proving a particular struggle for one or more of your staff, then mix it up or build in elements which enhance the group dynamic.
“The key here is to really identify the challenges your employees face on a daily basis, and select an activity that mirrors those challenges and seeks effective means to overcome them. The more the employees can connect the exercise to their daily task, the more value will be added,” states Bianca Larsen, a team leader at Last Minute Writing and Writinity.
First, a warning. Anything that actively involves breaking down social and cultural barriers contains an element of inherent danger, so think carefully before you proceed. Yet on the other hand, the rewards here are tangible. The idea is to create situations which actively encourage staff to highlight their differences, be that culturally, or even regarding their likes and dislikes. An example here would be a food party where all employees bring a typical dish from their family, or a dress down day where employees are encouraged to wear something traditional from their culture.
“The secret here is to unlock the invisible barriers that exist in all situations where there are groups of people from different backgrounds. Build trust and understanding, actively promote cultural appreciation, and the group dynamic will instantly respond, sending performance into a different stratosphere in most cases,” adds Harry Hughes, a business writer at Draft Beyond and Researchpapersuk.
Communication is a key element to any successful team, be that on the sports field or in the office. A team that has failed to unlock its potential is a team that doesn’t communicate effectively. So, what can be done to rectify this wrong? Get your staff talking, but not as they normally would. Take them out of their normal environment and out of their comfort zones by debating a number of diverse and eclectic subjects. Ideas here could include a debate-team scenario, or even a discussion where individuals must support standpoints they normally wouldn’t. It would perhaps be mindful to avoid the normal conflict areas of religion and politics, but even these subjects are not off limits if you trust your staff to be constructive in voicing their opinions. Just ensure everyone gets their say, and that opinions are always sought, not just delivered.
Have some fun
A vitally important element to team-building activities is having some fun. If the activity proves to be otherwise, you will quickly lose the buy-in from the key stakeholders – in this case your employees. There are countless fun activities that can be initiated for the purpose, from fancy dress parties to ‘escape’ scenarios where the team must work together to escape a locked room, for example. Activities which involve constructing something or creating something tangible are always worthwhile and enjoyable, while cooking something together which can then be shared is always a winner. The reality is that if your staff are not enjoying the experience, they won’t want to be there, and if they don’t want to be there, they won’t engage. Engagement in what they are doing is crucial to any activity: something that should always be applied in the office as well as out.
This is a firm favorite going back many years. People, on average, just love pointless trivia, so setting up a regular staff quiz night in a relaxed environment can be a sure winner when looking to enhance staff morale and productivity. Just be sure to mix up the questions and the teams, and in general steer clear of talking shop, although a cheeky work-based round can have its merits too. Be careful not to overly stoke the competition, but keep the eye firmly on the aspect of fun, and this can be an enjoyable and rewarding exercise.