As organization development consultants, my colleagues and I are often asked to assist leaders with team building. This can mean anything from “please get these two people to start speaking to each other again, in four hours or less” to “we just want to have a fun day away from the office.”
This month’s focus has been on building and sustaining effective teams, and team building is a useful strategy for your leadership toolkit. To be more than just a fun day away, activities need to be based on the needs of the group and tied to team goals – either setting up future success or celebrating past accomplishments.
Team building activities can be elaborate, such as a day at a ropes course. Or they can be more simple, such as a celebratory lunch after meeting a big deadline.
Of course, sometimes team building is mostly about getting away from normal work and having fun together. If you’re leading a project team, it’s important to acknowledge every milestone and celebrate the big achievements. In an ongoing work team it’s equally important to look back on the good work that has been accomplished.
Taking a break can help you get back to the workplace refreshed and with new shared stories to tell. Anita has started a tradition of an annual team outing to have fun and celebrate the past year’s accomplishments. In past years we’ve gone bowling, played bocce ball, and taken a boat ride on the St. Croix. Having fun together really helps build our sense of working as a team. Check out a recent photo here.
Team building doesn’t have to take long. Checking in with good news before starting a meeting, watching a fun video together, or testing out a new training game can be a good break from the normal work. There are many online resources to help you 1) decide why you want to have a team building event, and 2) find activities that will meet your goals and timeframe.
The Free Management Library is a site with numerous resources on a variety of topics, including a section called All About Team Building. It includes an article from KSL Training on building high performance teams which describes steps for building teams:
- Develop a diverse team
- Generate a team purpose
- Develop crucial processes
- Build strong relationships
- Share leadership and accountability
- Establish focused communication
- Recognize key milestones and celebrate success
- Review and learn
This list of steps can help you identify the purpose for your team building event, which in turn can help you select activities. Once you have goals in mind, sites such as Mind Tools or Businessballs can provide ideas for team building activities.
Team building activities can be a valuable way to enhance communication, build camaraderie, and keep moving toward successful outcomes. What have been some of your most effective team building experiences?
Dee Anne Bonebright