Team-building exercises are historically hit-or-miss endeavors. In most workplaces, when people hear that management has planned some team-building, employees’ reactions will range from active defiance and eye-rolling to outright apathy, but rarely is it news received with enthusiasm. However, there are exercises and strategies which work, which aren’t cringe-inducing, and which won’t cost anybody an arm and a leg. If you’re looking to bring some unity to your team, let’s take a look at a way to do that without driving your employees crazy.
- Informal Address – Drop formal manners of speech. Allow team members to communicate with one another and with their superiors in whichever way feels most comfortable. Let them throw an emoji or two into their emails or their texting, discard the use of titles, add slang to the workplace vocabulary. Team members who feel less overshadowed by their superiors and uptight around their fellows will be encouraged to speak freely and honestly.
- Celebrate Success – This starts with the leader. When your team members do well, whether it’s getting work done ahead of schedule or coming up with a great new idea, celebrate it openly. This will encourage other members to do the same, pushing negativity out of the team environment.
- Mix Up Your Team – There are a number of ways to do this, but all share the same goal: get people out of their comfort zone and interacting with people they might not ordinarily work closely with. This creates a greater sense of cohesion and overall understanding across all parts of a team. Ways to do this can include breaking discussions into randomized groups or letting employees from one department go learn what a different department does for a day. Be creative!
- Group Outings – Taking the team out for a day or an evening is a great way to develop cohesion. Ideally, this event shouldn’t have any intended purpose, other than fun. Don’t try to draw any profound lessons out of the experience or point it towards “Team-Building”. Just take the team out to a sports game or a concert and let them have a good time with each other. They will bond and have a good time. The results will show in their work.
- Encourage Shared Hobbies – In most teams, it is common for team members to share outside interests. Provide these employees, if possible, with the space, email lists, and even minor financial support (if appropriate) to pursue these hobbies with each other. Not only will these team members feel supported, other members may discover new interests and join them, as well. This sort of extracurricular team involvement strengthens the relationships between team members and will show up at work as well.
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