As a team leader, the most challenging part of the job often isn’t the work itself - it’s putting together a great team and supporting them throughout their day to day work life. This can mean dealing with the range of emotions and complicated issues that arise when people work in close quarters of each other. Human relations are complex. With so many dynamics in play, how do you make sure that your team is feeling fulfilled and supported avoiding unnecessary conflicts that could impact the way employees work?
An underperforming team says as much about you as it does about the team. So, if you don't like what you see, ask yourself this: 'What do I need to do or out in place to enable my team to work better together? Are strategies and opportunities that I’ve put in place fit for purpose and tailored to my team?’
Regular team building events and activities are one way to motivate and bring employees together. But organising an activity for the sake of it with no forward planning will be fruitless.
"Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success."
- Henry Ford
If you want to organise a team building activity that actually adds long-term value to your team, it’s important to match individuals to the right activity. You can do this by identifying your team's personality, needs and any other dynamics that may be inhibiting good teamwork.
So how can you ensure your team building activity is a success?
1. Establish what a great team looks like to your organisation.
You need to establish and set clear achievable goals for everyone to work towards. How would you like your team to ideally work together? Does your team need to improve the way they communicate with each other? Does your team need to develop better presentation skills to support an upcoming project? How will your team reflect your organisation's way of working? Any definition of a team must include a sense of group identity, working together to accomplish an important realistic goal.
Social activities can often be the most cost-effective starting point because they are low cost and high impact. Due to their relaxed nature, a social event can be where you identify your team's true personality, which can inform future activities you organise throughout the year. It’s important to make sure that people mix, especially with larger groups, otherwise people may just stick with their friends.
2. Establish what the purpose of your activity is.
You’ve decided what a great team looks like, now think about what you are hoping they achieve. Think about what your whole organisation's key business goal is during the activity, in the next month, 6 months and so on. Organising team building is just one part of the big picture. Let's be honest - unless you deliver a change in performance by people doing something that is planned and consistent - what’s the point?
Ask your team what they would like to achieve from a planned activity. You’re essentially looking for activities to inspire, motivate and energise to support a high performing team. There are a wide variety of pursuits available, from conventional ones such as skill and workshop based on the more unconventional outdoor pursuits like canoeing and archery. Activities should be personalised and differentiated so everyone can take part, engage with, and enjoy the activity.
3. Remember, team events are not the solution for everything. But they’re a great place to start.
Team building activities have real value provided you’re clear that what you need to achieve requires the team to think through how to change their performance or you wish to reward them in some way. They’re not the solution for one under-performing employee or because you've decided you have a number of new projects starting next week and your team suddenly needs to be working effectively as a team. However, when appropriate, coaching a team to a higher level of performance is one of the most rewarding aspects of being a manager and leader.
Best of all, having a great team around you to deliver your business objectives makes success a much easier. Team building activities need to be a core part of your yearly plan, complimented with regular onsite development opportunities and follow up sessions.
4. Research to find the right team building facilitator.
If you’re going to use a facilitator, spend some time with them. Allow them the opportunity to meet the team and hear each perspective on the issues and challenges. If they’re any good, during these conversations they will spot your team's specific needs and potentially challenging issues either unspoken or avoided and help the team address them.
Be aware of a facilitator or company promising to solve all your team problems in a day. This is unrealistic. Team behaviours take weeks, months, and years to develop and can take some time to truly change. In a day you might begin to identify the key issues and possibly come up with a solution for one or two, but expect it to take a whole lot longer to see the difference in the way the team behaves. Focus on one core goal and plan a yearly schedule of development opportunities and activities to support this.
5. Remember less is often more.
Keep the day goal orientated and don’t try to pack in as many activities as possible. Offsite workshops enable employees to focus on a particular topic without interruption. In many situations, the most effective type of workshop is one that involves everyone in forming collective goals or developing strategic or tactical plans. This encourages ownership amongst all members and is one of the most powerful team building activities you can use.
Having a day off-site or doing something that's fun may have a short-term impact, but to improve communication, cooperation, etc. in the long term, you may need to introduce new work practices and reinforce work rituals. It can be beneficial to combine team building activities with individual training. That is, the group receives training, but takes part in differentiated activities or are allocated particular roles. This has the dual benefit of developing the individuals whilst going through the experience collectively.
Why not choose to do something that has a benefit to the community? Achieving something worthwhile can help to unite the group, even more, providing it’s not too difficult a task and does not create too much pressure.
6. Find the right venue and activity.
Now you’ve established what you want to achieve with your team, it’s time to find the right venue and activity. Does your venue need to have a specific setting, for example, kitchens for cookery classes? A cinema to showcase your organisation's new showreel? What equipment will your team building activities require? Flipcharts, Internet Connection - Cable, LCD/Data Projector, PA System? It’s essential to write a list of resources and ‘must have’ requirements before booking a venue.
Bonding with a team releases oxytocin. People enjoy work more when they’re on a good team. You need to be bold be brave be adventurous and do something a little unique. If there’s not enough diversity, teams tend to fall into predictable ruts.
Lime Venue Portfolio can deliver both adrenaline-fuelled outdoor activities, fabulous food and creative experiences, all located in unique settings. For more formal reward or acknowledgement presentations, we have beautiful rooms, and elegant surroundings with resources to support a range of activities. We work with a selection of specialist team building partners to ensure your objectives are matched to the right venue and activities. They'll work with you and a selection of specialist team building partners to ensure your objectives and activities align.