I know, I caught you. Teambuilding. The mere mention of it, sends people into a few different states of emotion. Some role their eyes, "What? Not again!" type of feeling, others cower in fear at the thought of embarrassing themselves in front of their work colleagues and then there are those few, that minority who can't wait to get stuck in, shake it all about and show their peers just how awesome they are.
Just bare with me, keep reading a while longer because I used to be the 'eye roller,' until I came across the why and the benefits of REAL teambuilding, which I now try to apply in all areas of my life.
Why is teambuilding important in the workplace?
We can create 3 types of workplace. We can make it competitive, where our colleagues are pitting against each other. We can create an individualistic culture, where people work independently in their own little bubbles or we can build a co-operative environment, where colleagues work together to drive the business forward. Lots of research has been done on this way of working and it shows that those who operate in this way, out perform the others.
I have mentioned before in my previous blog about 'What is growth mindset in business?' a successful business can be grown on the chemicals of oxytocin and serotonin. Where trust, loyalty and respect is at the heart of it, but to get those chemicals working, we need to work on our actions in and out of the workplace to allow those feelings to flourish.
However, what is worth noting is that sticking a group of people together in a room with some sticks and den making material is not necessarily going to build a successful team. If teambuilding is done right, it will promote positivity, a great workplace culture, skills to work with a wide range of people and maximise their potential for the workplace.
What are the benefits of teambuilding?
Teambuilding isn't just about getting our colleagues to work well together, it's about giving them vital life skills to deal with the ever increasingly demanding and fast pace of the 21st Century.
If you think of all the places and things that you do that requires you to work alongside others, not just at work, I bet there is a few. Our world is ever rapidly growing and changing and becoming increasingly heterogenous. Colleagues that can work well in a team and have built the skills to do this, will thrive is places of diversity. Those without these skills will flounder and fall.
For me, the most important reason for teambuilding is the effect it has on breaking down barriers and to see each other as people. As we've grown up, our experiences, our desire to be 'cool' may have seen us form prejudices against the 'nerds', the 'snobs', the 'rich', the 'poor.' Teambuilding is all about looking for commonalities, to understand each others joys, values and pains and lose the labels.
If you think of the world of sports, this area of our lives shows great teamwork. The success of a single member of that team, impacts the teams success as a whole. They have a desire to drive each other forward, improve and develop together because they can see how this will impact on them as a collective.
Are teambuilding activities effective?
If done properly, yes, team building activities are effective. For teambuilding to work at it's best it relies on 4 important factors:
1) Positive and supportive interaction.
2) Everyone in the team is accountable. One doing well affects the whole team as equally as one not getting involved, affects the whole team.
3) Participation between individuals is equal - we don't have those that take over, nor do we have those that watch and let everyone else do the work.
4) Participation is regular, taking it in turns. So a team of 4 working on a task for an hour, we would expect them each to have 15minutes of focused engagement each.
With this structure, teambuilding is very effective. Everyone is a person, equal and in it together. No threats, no inequality and still a whole lot of fun!
10 teambuilding activities
There's a perception about what teambuilding is. White water rafting, paint balling, a kind of 'Soldier for the Day,' approach. Whilst this is what teambuilding can be, it certainly doesn't have to be and the 10 activities I will give you are not this at all! My activities are taken from ideas given through Kagan Cooperative Learning, which advocates, getting acquainted, forming an identity, supporting each other, valuing differences and developing synergy.
These are not expensive, not all day activities, but quick reminders of how we can pull together and build relationships, throughout our working day. You can always just do them for fun too!
1) Timed Round Robin - Simple, flexible and easy to initiate.
A problem or question is given to the team which has multiple responses. Think time is given.
Colleagues take turns stating responses (each having equal time to respond i.e. 1 minute)
2) Team Interview
Each teammate takes a turn to stand and is interviewed by the rest of their team for a specified amount of time. Questions based around likes and dislikes, where they've travelled, inspirations are all great things to get chatting about.
3) Team name - give your team identity and have a bit of fun.
The team name can be created through either the content of the project your are undertaking or personal preference.
Each team member must have a say
No decision can be made until everyone agrees
No agreement should be given if you have a serious objection.
4) Team Shelters
Make a shelter from newspapers and masking tape. It must be big enough for each team member to sit in.
5) Blind Walk - it's all about trust
One team member closes their eyes or is blindfolded, while a colleague takes them on a tour of the space.
You can show you teammate things by using their sense of touch and describing things to them.
After an allotted time, swap with another team member.
After you have all had a turn, discuss how that situation made you feel and why.
How did it feel to lead people around the space?
6) Thank you cards - show your gratitude
Spreading gratitude doesn't need to be expensive. It's the gesture and the words that mean a lot.
Write a little message to your colleagues about how much you value them and why. Then, leave it for them to find.
7) What values are important?
Team members rank what they value from least to most important. It could be a whole range of topics from world peace, helping others, health, wealth or happiness.
Follow this up by ranking how they want to be, so things like honest, talented, attractive, independent, creative.
Celebrate each others uniqueness.
8) Donate to charity
As a team, a bit like team name, decide on a chosen charity.
Organise an opportunity for you to raise funds for your chosen cause.
9) Squiggle Art
Give each team member a piece of paper and coloured pen, each draws a squiggle on the piece of paper.
Pass your paper to the person on the right and receive from the left
Add another detail to the squiggle to begin building a picture
Continue to send the pieces of paper round and build upon.
10) Pair compare
Create lists of ideas in pairs, taking it in turns generate and write.
Then compare the list with another pair, adding new ideas gained to yours.
As a team, is there anything else that you haven't thought of that could become an idea?
How we can support teambuilding days.
Grow Your Mindset can organise big showy teambuilding days that you all think of, on or off location -sure we're up for that, but if you want to do teambuilding in the RIGHT way, then we can show you lots of simple strategies, like the ones above, that you can go away and start implementing into your normal business day straight away!
Head to our webpage for more info if you'd like to organise some team-building workshops, drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a ring on 07803 909838 and we can chat through all the options.
Hopefully I've convinced you that teambuilding is a valuable part of building a honest, collaborative business and not a paint ball in sight!