Team building exercises are an effective way to help groups of employees work better together. They often lead to enhanced feelings of connection and trust in the workplace, while also improving communication and problem-solving skills. However, if you want team building to take place effectively, you should make sure the following elements are in place.
- Trust in Facilitators and each other. It’s true that one of the goals of team building exercises is to increase trust, but there must be at least some level of confidence in the people around them, the environment, and the facilitator of the activity or participants won’t be able to fully engage. When the activity is planned, the comfort and confidence of the participants must be considered.
- The need for collaboration. It’s not just important that all team members are involved, but that they are involved together. In order to pull individuals into an effective team, the activity must require the cooperation of each participant. For example, an escape room with an hour deadline and multiple puzzles to solve can only be successfully completed if individuals pull together to work with each other, sharing strengths and overcoming individual areas of weakness.
- Participation of all involved. Team building is a great way to encourage and strengthen the relationships between coworkers, but this won’t happen if some team members aren’t participating. This does not mean employers or peers should force any individual to participate. The element of trust and comfort are crucial. However, employers should consider ways to effectively encourage workers to willingly join the activity and maybe venture a tiny bit out of their comfort zones.
- A sense of humour. Some of the most successful team building exercises are those where participants are free to laugh at themselves and at the activity. Trust falls, drum circles, off-the-wall games, scavenger hunts, human knots, and other activities are only effective as long as the participants have a good attitude toward the activity, and this includes the ability to laugh.
- Interest in the activity. Speaking of trust falls, there is a possibility that this activity has been over-used. Today, employers are branching out and looking for other ways to enhance team togetherness and productivity. While staying focused on the importance of bringing members together, your activity must also have an element of fun. Choose something, such as the escape room example, that includes the participation of everyone involved with an element of interest and enjoyment to keep individuals focused on their task.
- An equal playing field. When you approach your team building activity, forget distinctions between management and employees. Prepare to accept a role where you’re responsible for some of the more tedious work while allowing an employee to take the lead. As you work together without splitting up by rank or authority, you may find that employees are more likely to recognize you as an effective leader outside of the activity.
A Link Between the Activity and a Business Objective
Before you begin, establish your primary goals. There must be some way to bridge the activity back to your business objectives. Some of the most common goals for team building include improving productivity and motivation, breaking down personal or political barriers, eliminating distractions, improving communication, and to bring the team together to work as one. Can you think of activities that accomplish these goals better than trust falls?
As you set out to plan an effective activity, remember that participants want to know why they are there. Be prepared to clearly state the purpose of the activity to increase willingness among your participants. Also, remember that every participant must show respect for every other participant. Without all of these vital elements, your activity may turn into nothing more than a distraction from the normal daily routine.