I love meeting new people and learning new things. A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to be introduced to a leader and had the opportunity to talk about some of my favourite HR topics (there are so many I am interested in that it is challenging to choose just one). Our conversation was focused mainly on culture and engagement – which naturally led to the topic of team building.
This leader mentioned a comment regarding team building that had been expressed by one of his peers, when they were brainstorming for the next group activity. (For background – each of the team members was responsible for an event in the rotation.) The comment/question was “Why does team building always mean golf?” Although no one professed a dislike of the golf and the entire team had participated in past events, this comment gave the leader pause and made him re-consider future teambuilding options. Of course, this prompted me to focus on team building best practices.
Team building activities are one of the more popular engagement activities. They can be used for a variety of purposes; introducing new employees to the team, increasing employee morale and, improving work relationships (trust) between peers & managers. Many valuable outcomes can be derived from team building activities. However, team building activities will not be effective if the people you are trying to engage are not showing up or not benefiting from the event.
Effective team building takes thought and effort. Prior to initiating an event, take a moment to think about the objective of your team building activity. What are you trying to accomplish? Are you introducing a new team member or are you attempting to break down silos and increase communication between divisions of the organization? Each objective lends itself to a very different scenario.
Once you are clear on your objective, take a moment to reflect on the personalities of the team. In our increasingly diverse workplace (diversity is a wonderful thing!!!), we need to consider a myriad of factors when planning team building events. Age, gender, ethnic background, religion, and marital/parental status, are just a few that come to mind. Personality type, disability status, work status (remote or in the office) and even modes of transportation, are factors that should be considered. One of the biggest team building challenges I can think of, is finding activities to solidify the feeling of ‘belonging’ of an employee who is embedded within a client’s workplace.
After considering your objective and reflecting on the composition of your team, it’s time to start being creative. If you are unsure of what type of activities to pursue, the Internet is your friend. A quick search will give you a myriad of possibilities. All those options will allow you to mix it up. Team building does not have to equal large outlays of money.
For example, I recently watched a Ted Talk by Margaret Heffernan discussing the power of ‘Social Capital’. In the talk, she shared examples of companies banning coffee cups on desks – this was done to encourage people to stop working and meet at the coffee station, or alternatively, synchronizing coffee breaks so that people got to know each other better. Basically, team building happening everyday….Interesting concept.
Regardless of what your objective is and what type of event(s) you plan, a couple of logistical considerations are always appreciated. Consider staggering the timing of events. Many employees are not able to attend after work events due to childcare and after school activities. Hosting events at lunch, or on the weekend (with or without the family along) should be considered.
If you are considering a series of offsite activities and you happen to live in a larger center (using Calgary as an example), consider holding events in various quadrants of the city. It’s no fun to be continually commuting a long distance to ‘hang out’ with your colleagues.
Team building events don’t need to be fancy or expensive, they just need to be thought out….Happy Team Building!
Interested in further discussing team building for today’s diversified workforce? Salopek & Associates would be happy to support you in strategizing, planning or facilitating team building activities that fit the unique needs of your team and drive employee engagement and participation. Contact us today to chat about team building best practices and activities that will get your entire team excited!