Adopted from our cousins across the pond, the term ‘Team Building’ has gained a bad reputation over the years. Eliciting a sigh, a few eye rolls and perhaps a good mixture of groans, organised fun can be anything but that – fun!
Perceived to be cringe worthy, you may be surprised to find that a recent study by TeamSport found that less than one in five (18%) of employees believe that the opportunity to bond outside of work improves their working relationship.
Whilst 11% report that away days make them more confident and 14% said that it helps with communication. Statistics like these certainly don’t build the business case for introducing more team days to the companies HR agenda, but the trouble is we’ve gone about team building all wrong.
Taking lead from a nation who are perpetually overworked, team building shouldn’t feel like yet another day in the office where it’s drummed into you how hard you should work or how much more you should lead, it should offer an opportunity for colleagues from all levels and departments to engage.
It’s time to take your traditional perspective of team building and turn it on it’s head, with these simple steps.
Remove Forced Fun
The outdated team building days of mixing activities with a practical take-aways are long gone. Nobody wants to take part in silly games that are going to attempt to teach them about communication or leadership, they actually want to have some fun!
While some may love organised fun, others can hate it, so you need to find activities that the team not only wants to do together but will actually enjoy.
You want to generate a buzz that will have them talking about it for weeks to come.
Get rid of structure and any training tit-bits that you thought you could include, because these are in fact the elements that will make your team disengage from the get-go.
By masking education or training with ‘fun’ you simply imply to your team that you don’t believe they have the capacity to learn without it being childish, which quite frankly is insulting.
“The most successful, memorable team building events are ones that don’t feel like a day at the office. Sharing an experience allows bonding to happen more organically”, comments Brian Scudamore at o2E Brands.
Investing in real social activities such as a company lunch out or bowling for the afternoon, allows them to switch off from the tasks that are tying them to their desks, and provides a clear signal to your employees that you appreciate their hardwork.
Letting them blow off steam on behalf of the company, will make them relax and enjoy the benefit, rather than wonder what they have to take away from it all.
Now that the pressure is removed it will breakdown any personal barriers so they can communicate with each other more freely.
Even a less formal atmosphere can help senior colleagues get a better understanding of employees on an individual basis.
Once out of the constraints of the office and the dread of forced fun, communication will be improved and overall morale will be boosted.
The skills that are often plugged into team building should be left to be learnt in the classroom.
Admittedly this may not be the best way that everyone learns, but this is naturally the best way that your employees will engage with any training or education you wish to provide them with, and they’ll know what to expect.
Any training should be specific to their role to enhance their confidence, and should offer them firm support in their attempt to improve themselves.
Unfortunately, team building has been seen as a ‘one-stop-shop’ to fix all of a company’s problems, but by only having short-term goals and not investing fully into the methods and practices required, you only waste time and money attempting to paste over the cracks, when in reality a long-term strategy should be implemented.
Create a diary of educational or training events that will continuously help your team to develop their skills.
“We are all aware that training is not only an investment of money, but also of time, so full training should specifically suit your needs, and be developed over time combining practical skills”, comments Management and Training Consultant at Holmewood Hall.
Trying to pigeon hole fun and learning together will only cause an abundance of dissatisfied employees being put through activities that they feel hold no value.
By separating the two, you’re clear on the goals laid out, and will get full buy-in from employees to take part.
Team building is nothing new, and as the demand for workplace culture continues, the methodology is only increasing and becoming more popular.
Increasing collaboration, building trust and encouraging communication, it’s a topic that shouldn’t be scoffed.
If you don’t begin to adopt a more holistic approach to your employee engagement, you may find your employee turnover increasing quicker than expected.