We work effectively when we feel engaged, motivated, and comfortable with our environment and the people around us. While many organizations realize the value and put effort into engaging and motivating their employees, how many of us can say that we strive to make our employees feel comfortable?
In order to take risks, think outside the box, and get out of our comfort zones, we must first feel comfortable in the environment and with those around us. When we trust and feel empowered by our team, we are able to reveal a creative idea or innovative solution.
A good way to instill trust and comfort with your coworkers is through team building activities, which are a great way to improve the team’s dynamic.
Taking the Team from Liability to Asset
Teams can be your biggest asset or liability depending on how they are formed, structured, and inspired to achieve success.
There are many people with an I’d rather do it myself mentality, who, if they were able to approach teamwork in a strategic way, would be be the first to jump on board. But, who is to blame them? It is likely that we’ve all had a bad experience working in a team, but that doesn’t have to be the case.
By strategically creating a solid foundation for a team, success will come easily and with fewer hurdles.
The Foundation for a Coordinated Team
Have you ever seen someone jump into marriage before they even went on the first date? The answer is not likely. So why would we do the same with a team? If you’re thrown into a team to tackle a project such as increasing revenue in your organization by twenty percent in the next eight months, or to design a strategic plan for the next five years, it would be useful to begin by getting to know one another. Setting the foundation is key to building anything worthwhile.
By using team building activities in the beginning stages of a team’s formation, you are giving people the freedom to get to know each other in a risk-free environment and gain awareness into who they are before the pressure is on and the project begins.
How to Create a Good Team Building Activity
The goal for a good team building session is to make it memorable, purposeful, and inclusive.
Make it Memorable
Ensuring that a team building session is memorable helps participants use the key take-aways when they are actively working within their team. Try to create aha! moments for the team to capture and keep their attention.
Tips for a memorable team building:
- Give members a souvenir that they can keep from the event - whether it's something they make individually or together.
- Take photos at the team building session and post them in a common area to remind people of the activity
Make it Purposeful
One of the most important aspects of team building is to make sure the team feels the session has a clear purpose and the activities are not only fun and engaging, but have clear value to the team’s growth and understanding of each other. You don’t want anyone to feel as though they are wasting their time. Make sure to clearly point out the goals and objectives of the session before you begin any activities.
Make it Inclusive
Encouraging collaboration and inclusivity is very important for team building activities; after all, the ultimate goal is to improve the working dynamic within the team. Before you begin, make sure to promote rich communication between the group. Even more important is to ensure that everyone is able to participate in the activity. The worst thing that could happen is someone is not physically able to participate in the activity and they feel excluded or embarrassed during the session. Make sure to contact the participants in advance of any physical activities to ensure they will be able to participate.
Reflect for Next Time
After a successful team building session, the members of the team will better know one another and feel more comfortable together. By feeling comfortable around each other, the team will be prepared to step out of their comfort zone collaboratively and reach towards success.
After you've completed the activity, get feedback from the participants regarding what they found most helpful and least helpful about the team building session. If there are any consistencies in the feedback, use that as constructive criticism for the next time you plan an event with your team.
Behavioral assessments are another great way for team members to get to know one another and feel more comfortable around each other. When teams discuss insights about themselves and each other, they are able to appreciate, communicate, and leverage the strengths of each member. This sense of mutual understanding is key to building collaborative success. Behavioral assessments such as The Birkman Method take much of the emotion and uncertainty out of discussing difficult topics, as they approach subjective issues with an objective approach.