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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