Having your office participate in team building events can be a great way for coworkers to get to know each other and learn how to work more effectively as a group.
These events can have a serious impact on productivity and morale if properly executed and maintained.
Maintenance is the key to achieving lasting benefits. Once you’ve finished the team building exercises, all of the progress you’ve made can be lost without proper follow up.
Lessons learned during these events must be taken back to the office and built on for there to be a lasting effect on your corporate culture.
We’re here to help you understand how to plan, carry out, and continue effective team building both in and out of the workplace.
It all starts with the goals you want to accomplish. This may sound backwards, but knowing where you want to go is the first step in planning the route.
First, decide what aspects of team building you want to focus on – communication, leadership, problem solving, etc…
Knowing your team is essential to this step. Exercises should be designed with them in mind.
You need to understand your team’s strengths and weaknesses before proper events can be selected.
If your team has strong leadership but lacks give and take, focus on communication. If your team communicates well but lacks direction, focus on developing leadership skills.
Once you know the destination, you can start thinking about how you want to get there.
Leave it to the Pros
Next, speak with team building experts to determine how to accomplish those goals.
We highly recommend bringing in (or going to) trained professionals to guide your group through these exercises.
These professionals can ensure that events are run properly and that teams leave having accomplished designated goals.
A well-intentioned amateur may do more harm than good; team building events can quickly devolve into frustrating wastes of time that can actually lower morale and esprit de corps.
To avoid this, work with experts to devise fun, interactive events that involve the entire team, not just the usual loudest voices.
Keep it Going
After the events are over and you’re back at the office, the real work begins.
This is when the benefits of team building are built on or lost. Team building is a perishable skill, which means that if you don’t use it, it disappears.
Your team must maintain the skills developed during team building in order for the effects to take root and have an impact on office culture.
This culture is really what you want to improve upon. A collaborative, communicative environment should be fostered, allowing the lessons of team building to take hold.
Employees should feel empowered not just during the events, but every day they show up to work.
Own the Ideas
The best way to encourage people to follow through with the lessons learned in team building is to give them ownership of those ideas.
If changes are a top-down process, they can feel like just another mandate from the boss.
If those changes are discussed, developed, and disseminated from the ground up, employees will take ownership.
This gives everyone a stake in the success of the the changes.
The Power of the Pen
After the event, bring everyone together to discuss their takeaway. Each participant’s perspective should be addressed, along with any discoveries made during the event.
Ideas about how to implement those discoveries into everyday office life should be discussed, with each employee provided with an opportunity to give input.
Using a whiteboard to document the process during a roundtable discussion will help people feel like they are a part of the process, as well as helping them to visualize the plan for the future.
Of course these ideas need to be implemented, not just discussed and forgotten. Designate a team tasked with turning these ideas into action.
Golas should be set and a timetable should be established. Schedule follow up meetings to stay apprised of the progress this team is making.
If ideas are left to flounder, then confidence in the team building process will be lost, making any future team building exercises that much more difficult.
Celebrate the Results
Once the takeaways from team building have been successfully implemented, make sure to let everyone know.
Show people that the lessons learned have been integrated into office culture, and they will know that their input is respected and appreciated.
Plan an event at the office to celebrate when the goals you set have been met. Get cake for the office, hang a banner, or find another way to let everyone know that they have succeeded.
Play it Again
Even after all of this, the work is still not done. Team building is an ongoing process that needs to be integrated into corporate culture.
Regular off-site team building events should be held, and follow through (as described above) should be a part of this.
Team building isn’t something you do once a year, but something that must be preached and practiced every day.
If done properly, your office will be happier, work better together, and be more productive.