Pave the way for team building

by Katie May, editor, Communication Briefings

You see a need to gather your employees, discuss a problem and work to overcome it as a team. So you set a meeting, plan a team-building activity and expect everyone to show up ready and—happily—willing to participate. However, such plans rarely go accordingly. And if you aren’t careful, your plans can deliver results contrary to what you hope for.

Employees may view the team-building activity as a waste of time or consider it silly. They may feel too intimidated or embarrassed to participate. Worse, they may question your motives in presenting the activity or perceive the training as an indirect way to criticize their performance.

Overcome resistance and skepticism to team-building, and host sessions where employees are actively engaged, cooperating—and learning. Follow these rules:

  • Invite employee feedback. Ask your staffers to identify opportunities for improvement, and build activities around that feedback. Outline areas that you would like to see improve—for example, communication, respect, collaboration—and ask them to vote on the top priority. Then present that team-building activity first. When employees see that they have some say in the planning and topic choice, they will be more engaged in the training.
  • Plan fun events and activities. Don’t expect to spark enthusiasm if you present a boring activity or pop quiz. Successful team-building activities entertain even the most resistant staffers. Steer away from too-cute activities. If employees feel that the activity demeans them or insults their intelligence, they won’t gain anything from it.
  • Deliver a clear benefit. Start the session by describing in one or two sentences how the exercise will benefit the team and what you want to see change afterward. Although not every event will go exactly as planned, going in with a goal allows you to measure the results and improve your next efforts.
  • Make events inclusive. Consider teammates’ limitations as you plan events. Physically demanding activities can be fun, but if age or health conditions exclude some teammates, you will not meet your goals of increasing camaraderie and cooperation.
  • Hold team-building events on a regular basis so that staffers will see and believe that you value teamwork and will make continuous efforts to improve it.

Note: If you have not spent much time or effort on team building, you may be unsure how to proceed. You can give your group a boost by presenting a fun exercise called “Build your own team-building activity.” It’s one of the 40 team-building activities and ice-breakers presented in a Briefings Media Group tip book called Team Up! Fun Ways to Strengthen Your Workgroup. Click here to download a free copy of that team-building exercise.

You can find more team-building ideas on the Communication Briefings website every month. Look on the home page under “Focus on” for ideas and tactics you can use right away to address your team’s particular concerns.

Last month’s question

As training budgets and HR departments continue to contract, you may find yourself in charge of planning and presenting team-building activities. How does your team respond when you present a team-building activity? When we asked that question last month, only 26% of our readers said team members participate enthusiastically.

  • 48% said they roll their eyes.
  • 17% said they refuse to participate or do so only half-heartedly.
  • 10% said they complain.

Selecting team-building activities to energize and draw together your team can be a challenge. Before you can expect them to respond positively to the activities you present, you might need to perform a motivation tune-up.

Find the ideas you need to inspire staffers and reignite their team spirit in this valuable resource: 50 Powerful Teamwork Tips for Employees. It is packed with ways you can build team spirit, set team goals, lead staffers to take training seriously, support teammates, increase productivity–and much more. You will want a copy of this popular tip book for every manager on your staff. Click here to learn more.

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