There are three benefits of team building, which we outlined in our blog post, Why Team Building is Important: more open communication, increased productivity, and a greater familiarization with company culture. When team building exercises are implemented, employees build trust and a spirit of unity. They get engaged with each other and with their work. Employees feel more comfortable expressing concerns and needs, which leads to more effective communication. Team building can help your workforce get on the same page, work together, and increase their motivation to complete tasks in a timely manner. In other words, productivity can rise.
And, exercises in team building support a strong company culture. Regular efforts that engage employees with company goals, values, and standards of performance can not only establish a wholesome culture, but also maintain it. How do you get started? In the next few paragraphs we outline how to set up effective team building events and provide examples that can work well in recycling facilities and manufacturing environments.
GETTING STARTED: FOCUS ON THE DETAILS
Before setting up your event, you’ll want to clarify the details. What is the purpose of the team building event, what results do you expect, who will participate, when and how long will it take, and what is your budget?
There are many possible outcomes for a team building event: relationship building among team members, celebration of success or accomplishments, and communication skill building to name a few. A team building event can also be linked to a problem area or weakness that needs addressing. Establishing a purpose and setting goals will keep you focused and create a standard by which you can measure your success.
Next, decide who will participate. Is the event catered towards the entire company, a specific department, or members of a specific leadership group? If your company has multiple shifts, think about how to include all employees.
Consider how much time you’ll need to achieve the goals of the event and where to hold your activity. Team building can be as casual as an after-hours get together or as formal as a highly structured company-wide seminar. The structure depends on the purpose. A celebration for hitting a production goal or safety target might be held off-site, whereas a seminar on developing specific new safety skills might be better suited for an in-house meeting room.
Once the purpose and structure of your team building event have been set, establish a reasonable budget to cover location fees, supplies, food and beverage. Even in-house meetings can incur a cost if refreshments, a catered meal or compensation for off-shift employees become part of the equation.
COMMUNICATING AND SETTING EXPECTATIONS
Achieving your team building goals is linked to what the participants come to expect or what they hope to gain. Your employees might be hesitant or dubious about the experience if it is a first for the company, but clearly communicating what to expect can calm their nerves and get your activity started on the right foot.
Setting expectations is vital, but it is helps build enthusiasm during the run-up to the event. Managers and leaders should personally invite participants and make sure they know the time and location details. Email reminders, handouts and posters can also help build energy and awareness.
THREE TEAM BUILDING ACTIVITIES
One of the keys to improving bonds between coworkers is to pick an activity that allows them to share information about themselves. “Two Truths and a Lie” is an easy exercise to get the sharing started. Here’s how it works. Ask participants to think of three things about themselves that others may not know; two things should be true and the third should be made-up. Go around the room and give each person a turn to share their two truths and a lie. The team has to guess which one is false. This is a quick, fun activity that helps team members get to know one another as people, not just co-workers.
CELEBRATION OR SUCCESS:
This type of event often involves an off-site activity. It may require a larger budget to cover food, drinks, admission fees, or potentially all three. Think about what your team might enjoy doing together: bowling, miniature golf, go-kart racing, paintball, and laser tag can instill a team mindset and draw the participants closer together. Bigger budget? Consider working with an activity company that specializes in Amazing Race-style events, escape rooms, or scavenger hunt games. Overall, events such as these unite team members and are a great way to recognize and reward team and individual achievements.
If your goal is to improve communication skills, look to activities like Lost At Sea or Lost On the Moon, which require teams to focus on thinking and persuasion skills and identify effective tactics for communicating. Both examples can be completed in an hour and require no facilitator, supplies or special training. These activities also form a solid foundation as a first-time time team building exercise and set the stage for more complex communication skill building in the future.
There are dozens team building activities you can use to develop relationships among co-workers, celebrate successes, and build communication skills. Regardless of the event’s purpose, always make sure you take time to organize the details, set goals and communicate your expectations to the team.
Whether the event is taking place in a meeting room or at a commercial event facility, make sure that engagement and a positive experience are top priorities. Lastly, incorporate team building as an ongoing part your company culture. One-off events can be fun but making team building activities a regular part of your operation will lead to better communication, improved morale, and higher productivity.