Tips for Team Building
Do you immediately picture your group off at a resort playing games or hanging from ropes when you think of team building? Traditionally, many organizations approached team building this way. Then, they wondered why that wonderful sense of teamwork, experienced at the retreat or seminar, failed to impact long term beliefs and actions back at work.
I’m not averse to retreats, planning sessions, seminars and team building activities – in fact I lead them – but they have to be part of a larger teamwork effort. You will not build teamwork by “retreating” as a group for a couple of days each year. Think of team building as something you do every single day.
- Form teams to solve real work issues and to improve real work processes. Provide training in systematic methods so the team expends its energy on the project, not on figuring out how to work together as a team to approach it.
- Hold department meetings to review projects and progress, to obtain broad input, and to coordinate shared work processes. If team members are not getting along, examine the work processes they mutually own. The problem is not usually the personalities of the team members. It’s the fact that the team members often haven’t agreed on how they will deliver a product or a service or the steps required to get something done.
- Build fun and shared occasions into the organization’s agenda. Hold pot luck lunches; take the team to a sporting event. Sponsor dinners at a local restaurant. Go hiking or to an amusement park. Hold a monthly company meeting. Sponsor sports teams and encourage cheering team fans.
- Use ice breakers and teamwork exercises at meetings. I worked with an organization that held a weekly staff meeting. Participants took turns bringing a “fun” ice breaker to the meeting. These activities were limited to ten minutes, but they helped participants laugh together and get to know each other – a small investment in a big time sense of team.
- Celebrate team successes publicly. Buy everyone the same t-shirt or hat. Put team member names in a drawing for company merchandise and gift certificates. You are limited in teamwork only by your imagination.
Take care of the hard issues above and do the types of teamwork activities listed here. You’ll be amazed at the progress you will make in creating a teamwork culture, a culture that enables individuals to contribute more than they ever thought possible – together.