Why team building exercises are worthwhile
There is no ‘I’ in teamwork, as they say. The importance of being able to work effectively as a team in the workplace has long been an essential part of successful business strategies. But just how do you promote good team morale within your staff? It is a fact of life that we are not all going to get on with one another and in any workforce there are bound to be strong personalities and egos that clash. But truly successful companies are able to depend upon a strong team who work with and for each other.
With ever-increasing competition in the corporate world, especially with a global recession meaning that the battle for the consumer ‘buck’ is particularly hard, team building exercises have become big business in the last decade or so as companies try to get the edge over one another.
There are thousands of companies dedicated to providing activities and events designed to boost team morale and encourage healthy working relationships.
Some of the other benefits include:
- Organisational productivity
- Improved leadership skills
- Improved problem solving
- Identified strengths and weaknesses
- Improved trust between colleagues
Company Mind Tools, which runs a website dedicated to free training skills, states that although team building can be worthwhile, it is important for business leaders to have a clear goal in mind.
“The ‘day of fun' may have been a nice break from business, but did your colleagues actually use any of the lessons that they learned once they were back in the workplace?
“Too often, managers plan an activity with no real thought or goal in mind. This tends to be a waste of time – and managers risk losing the team's respect when they plan an exercise that doesn't actually help those involved,” it says.
ALL IN THE PLANNING
One key factor to consider when planning any team building exercise or activity is identifying problems that exist within the group to rectify.
Noting down strengths and weaknesses will allow you to plan exercises that will challenge and test staff.
Mind Tools states that the following should be considered:
- Are there conflicts between certain people that are creating divisions within the team?
- Do team members need to get to know one another?
- Do some members focus on their own success, and harm the group as a result?
- Does poor communication slow the group's progress?
- Do people need to learn how to work together, instead of individually?
- Are some members resistant to change, and does this affect the group's ability to move forward?
- Do members of the group need a boost to their morale?
TYPES OF ACTIVITIES
There are hundreds of different activities and events to choose from. Although sports and games seem an obvious choice, these can actually have the opposite effect and demoralise team members who are not particularly good at sport. Directly competing like this can also have a negative effect on relationships.
“Make sure that your team-building exercises aren't competitive,” says Mind Tool. “Think about it – competition tends to make one person or team work against another. This probably isn't a good way to build team spirit and unity. More likely, it's a way to divide a group.”
Indoor, outdoor, physical and mental – the possible list of activities is endless, from something as simple as building a tower with blocks to river rafting. Which you decide to choose will depend on the size of your group and specific issues to address.
It is also a good idea to review what has been learnt in the course of a day after events have taken place to remind staff once they return to the workplace – after all, that is where the improvements should be felt most.
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5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.