If your team-building exercise seems like another day of ‘business as usual’ then chances are that you are doing it wrong. Heavy-handed team-building activities that bludgeon home messages about leadership and practical approaches to common issues are not as powerful as human interaction. Spending time with members of the team, sharing how challenges have been dealt with, or aligning efforts to achieve a common goal encourages bonding is much more effective. See here for corporate conference production.
Say goodbye to the mundane.
The company picnic has been done to death. It forces people together and that leads to awkwardness and stilted conversation – no amount of grilled meat and potato salad is going to help. People who are happy and relaxed tend to learn more quickly and retain the lessons that they have learned. That is of enormous benefit to the business. Think outside the box, take team members out of their comfort zones and give them the opportunity to interact in new ways.
Get to know your team and use that information to supply a meaningful team-building experience. For instance, if it comes to your attention that one of your team members has a phobia about heights. The solution might be a team-building exercise on a zipline.
Change the expense mindset.
Team building is not an extravagance or an unnecessary expense, it’s an investment in one of the most important assets that any company has – its employees.
A couple of years ago we treated our best franchise partners to a NASCAR racing experience. It didn’t break the bank ($350 per person), but it was a considerable amount of money for a company that was still growing. It was an investment we never regretted. The members of the team realized that they were valued. The experience of feeling the power and speed of those 145 miles an hour machines created lasting memories – and everyone ended up feeling like they were on the top tier of the winner’s podium.
So what is the point? Team building is not a ‘nice to have.’ It’s not a gamble and it doesn’t have to cost the Earth. But don’t be stingy – remember, it’s an investment – and it’s worth every penny.
Keep up the momentum.
Team building programs fail because they are treated as a once-off. Host one and move along. The key to success is to maintain that level of excitement among members of the team. If the company can find ways to help people connect on a deep level outside of the day-to-day business activities like presentations or meetings, that excitement can be maintained.
We launched an initiative called ‘the daily huddle’. It was a stand-up meeting where everyone in the company gets together for a high-energy exchange of ideas and updates on important projects. It was also key to celebrating achievements and wins. Team members shared their 101 life goals (we even designed an app to make that easier). The goals were incredibly varied, from dreams of visiting other countries to tackling that dense classical novel. The more team members learn about the hopes and dreams of their fellow employees the greater the group cohesion. The fact that the activity also generated new ideas for future team-building exercises was also important.
So how do you know that you have found that magical team-building formula for success? Listen for the laughter and the excitement. Pay attention to how easily conversation flows.