You had the best intentions.
After learning about a new group activity, you spent weeks putting this team building event together. From high priced props, to professional workshop planning materials, no expense was spared. Frequent reminders and calendar alerts have cleared out everyone’s schedules. For two hours, you (somehow) successfully had everyone from the team in the same room at the same time. It was time to see collaboration in action!
Then, chaos hit.
Instructions constantly needed to be repeated. Furious teammates were at each other’s throats. And, when the session finally came to a close, no one could seem to remember the lesson they were trying to learn.
Your team building exercise may have just broken your team!
Team building exercises are a great way to break out of a normal work routine and reconnect as a group. However, without the proper planning, group activities can leave your coworkers scratching their heads and asking, “Why did I do this instead of working today?”
Don’t fall into the trap of complicated, ineffective group activities! Here are five ways to set up your next team building exercise for success:
Make it Matter
Breaking the typical work routine can be difficult enough, but doing so for an unfocused team building session only further alienates your coworkers. Without a clearly defined goal, participants will have a tough time buying in and realizing the value of the experience at hand. Take time to determine the “why’ of your activity before determining any other key factor.
Try to limit the number of steps, instructions and general complexity of your exercise. Loading large amounts of information in the beginning of your meeting can cause participants to tune out quickly. Keep the details light at the beginning (there will be time to review later!)
Also, keep simplicity in mind when creating a budget for this event; some of the best group activities can be created using everyday office items, such as paper clips and rubber bands!
Focus on Relationships
Attempting to rally a large group of people can be a draining, hectic process. Make the job easier by splitting the group up into smaller, more manageable teams of three to five. Not only will it make things run more smoothly, but the smaller group size will allow participants to form stronger interpersonal bonds. Once their task is completed, regroup as a full team to review and reflect together.
Keep Things Moving
You never want employees nervously checking their email during a group session; this is your team’s time to connect! On the other hand, it is important to remember that everyone’s time is valuable. Clearly communicate a reasonable amount of time to complete your activity and stick to it.
Reflection is Key
The most important step of any team building exercise is reflection. In fact, it’s okay (and natural) if team members feel small amounts of confusion, pressure and even tension during an exercise, as long as the lessons learned can be shared as a group. Team building exercises may feel silly or stressful as they are being completed, but it’s when the overall lessons about teamwork are applied that a session’s true value comes into focus.
Team building is important for any successful team. Before your next group exercise, make sure to follow these tips in order to create a collaborative, accepting environment. Do you have any team building tips? Take a minute to share yours in the space below!