Some people think team building is a hoax.
They believe something like, “because it’s difficult to measure the impact, the impact must be minimal or non-existent.”
I believe the opposite is true.
Together with skill-based training and providing the right equipment, team building is one of the most effective investments you can make for your company; this is true whether you have two employees or two thousand.
You’ve probably heard, at least anecdotally, that “people don’t quit companies, they quit managers.”
What you haven’t heard, because I just made it up, is that “people don’t stay for companies, they stay for colleagues”, which includes relationships with managers, subordinates and peers.
Building meaningful relationships as an adult is often cited as tough, and this is probably because:
- You just don’t meet as many people;
- The people you do meet are in a professional or similar context; and
- Other adults you meet are busy with their romances, families, careers, Crossy Roads, etc.
One way you can make new relationships is at work, and a great way to make this easier is with team building activities.
What is a team building activity?
A team building activity is something you do with your colleagues that is specifically designed to improve relationships, collaboration and communication.
This effort doesn’t have to be a big event or expensive; a simple example of team building is doing a quick icebreaker question at the beginning of meetings. Participants will follow up with each other about the icebreakers, which could include learning your colleagues grew up in a nearby town, speak the same language or also spend their weekends on an obscure hobby like re-reading Asimov non-fiction.
These opportunities to chat and share will eventually become friendships or at least stronger co-worker-ships, and you’ll see a correlated increase in job satisfaction, retention and productivity. Work is a surprisingly important social outlet, and your best team members will stay for those relationships… or at least some of them will.
Beyond icebreakers, you can plan your own team building activities or work with an outside group. Here are a couple of examples of activities you can do:
Museum Hack – My colleagues run renegade tours of the world’s best museums, which includes team building activities in NYC, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington DC and other awesome cities. Tours are designed from the ground up to be a meaningful team building experience, including “corporate hacktivation” for stories, games and challenges that inspire better teams.
The Great Guac Off – A new(er) project. The Great Guac Off is a company team building activity based on a guacamole making competition. We include icebreakers, mini-challenges and group photos to ramp up the team building & team bonding. Guac Off is available in Austin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington DC.
A few meta thoughts:
- Team building doesn’t have to be cheesy or boring, and that type of event is probably less successful.
- If you are at all hesitant about investing in team building then start with freebies like icebreakers.
- Try doing something out of the ordinary. The classics are company picnics, cupcake swaps, etc., which can be cool… but make it cool.
- FYI, some synonyms and related words for team building you may have heard: team bonding, corporate events, team offsite, company offsite and company retreat.