Ask ten managers what team building means to them, and you’re likely to get ten different answers.
Some may feel team building is essential in getting new hires up to speed. Others may think of it as a way to build better working relationships between leadership and employees, while a few others may see team building as a complete time waster.
Truthfully, the importance (and success) of team building all comes down to your unique goals in team building exercises and how you execute them.
Team building is imperative to any team of professionals and every company should integrate team building in its yearly schedule. We can’t stress the importance of team building for improving the levels of communication between company employees, and between employees and those in charge of running operations. Leaders can benefit by using the team building techniques to learn how to give information much more efficiently, which can heavily impact how employees use that information for the benefit of the company.
Importance of Team Building – Understanding What Team Building Is NOT
Many small company managers feel that team building is an expensive process that they can simply do without.
But there is nothing further from the truth.
Team building activities are chock full of benefits for your organization, but those benefits are often confused with other misconceptions about the true purpose of these events. Here’s what team building is NOT:
- A senseless break from work
- A creative way to use your budget
- An activity that doesn’t offer any tangible benefit
- Something that has absolutely nothing to do with your job
In short, team building does serve a purpose, which is to unite your team members to ensure everyone can work together as effectively as possible.
And it isn’t always as expensive as you might think.
Inexpensive team building is also widely available, but it is up to those running the company or the team to decide a plan of action for an inexpensive team building trip. Team building has long been associated with lengthy trips to dream destinations, but this was true only in the beginning of this concept when large companies recognized the importance of well-planned and organized team building trips.
The key words here are “well-planned” and “organized.” Without either of these, your entire team building goals may remain unreachable.
It may sound odd, but some of the largest successful corporations from all over the world spend small fortunes on just a few days per year for teams that have already been working together for years. But the truth is that there is always room for improvement. This should be an example even for the smallest companies that can use inexpensive team building to maximize their efficiency.
6 Reasons Why You Should Invest in Team Building
To some, team building is often viewed as something nice to have, but not really necessary. But this thinking is an outright fallacy.
Rather, team building should be considered an investment in your company’s future. When you invest in team building activities, you can expect a significant impact on multiple areas of your operations, such as collaboration, responsiveness, and leadership. And, whether you believe it or not, these things can produce a real ROI that also becomes evident in your bottom line. Here’s how:
1. Team building strengthens employee communication.
Miscommunication is a problem even in small companies, so you can imagine how important team building is for large companies that have dozens of employees working together on various projects.
In either case, the lack of effective communication can lead to incredible losses. However, this can easily be prevented by sending the team on an inexpensive two- or three-day team building trip. Team building isn’t just a good occasion for team members to bond with each other, but such a trip is also a useful occasion for those in charge to spot those team members who are not team players and are not able to integrate well with the team, thus decreasing productivity.
The whole object of team building is for team members to get to know their peers so that they are better prepared and able to work alongside each other. By taking the team out of the work environment and hosting a team exercise on new territory, invisible lines of seniority and popularity tend to wane to level the playing field and let each team member shine their brightest.
Team building activities can span an infinite range of situations, but each serves a similar purpose: to engage each member in open discussion and communication. By doing so, both leadership and lateral employees can better understand others’ triggers, responses, and motivations that produce their actions.
2. Team building makes work seem less like work.
As Confucius once said, “Find a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”
While your employees may not love every aspect of their job, team building events can make some of the necessary activities of their job seem less like work.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Take a company field trip to a nearby farm, amusement park, bowling alley, or other attraction.
- Conduct a charity event where your team performs a service for your community.
- Enroll your team in group-oriented professional development courses to boost their leadership abilities, including public speaking, management, and lateral communications.
- Conduct personality tests, such as the Myers-Brigg test, for each team member and hold an open discussion of the results.
- Host a team “show and tell” where each member brings in an item of significance and talks about it.
Regardless of the activities, you choose to employ in your team building event, participants should feel like they’re having fun with friends while developing crucial communication skills that will benefit your organization.
3. Team building establishes trust in others.
If you’ve ever managed team members who didn’t trust each other, you know how impossible it seems to accomplish even the simplest tasks.
Successful teams rely on trust in their team members to complete tasks, which an essential component of team building exercises. Team members who do not trust each other aren’t usually considered a team, but rather individuals who are working in proximity to each other that often result in lagging progress.
Team building can shed new light on what it means to be a team by creating a good opportunity to establish trust and learn how to better navigate through various troublesome situations that might appear in the course of a project.
It takes a significant amount of trust in team members to believe that others will follow through on their part in order to maintain the strength of the team. Each person’s individual actions can impact the overall function of the group, which is why establishing a high level of trust is an absolute must.
By the end of your team building event, your participants should feel better acquainted with each person on the team, understanding others’ exact roles in the company and their abilities to execute those roles. By learning more about the people they work with, each team member can better prepare themselves for what they encounter in the work environment.
4. Team building makes your employees feel appreciated.
There’s oftentimes a fine line between company events that express appreciation and events that are purely for company gain. Team building walks that line with exquisite precision in a duality between company benefit and employee relationships.
Advocating for company gain, your team building events are ones that pay off long after your event ends. The trust, communication, and bonds that form during these events are immediately carried back to your company and put on display for leaders, co-workers, and customers alike. If the event is a success, the lessons learned there aren’t soon forgotten, and can even prove effective in spreading to new team members when they come on board.
On the employee appreciation side, company outings can be a great way to thank employees for their service to the organization. Employees want to know their efforts matter, and simply delivering a paycheck every couple weeks isn’t always enough to show your appreciation.
Letting your employees know how much you care about their work can be a determining factor on how long an employee remains at your company, or whether they’ll seek employment at another company that’s known for taking good care of their staff. Even an occasional 30-minute team building exercise in-house can be enough to break up the work day and let employees know you believe in their professional development.
5. Team building helps establish your company culture.
A company’s culture should empower its employees to do their jobs to the best of their abilities while remaining in line with your company goals. That said, your company culture can be considered the beating heart of your company to your employees.
Team building is a crucial part of establishing and maintaining your company culture. By building relationships between your team members and leadership, the end results can positively impact your business objectives.
For example, by having a strong team, your employees may see your company less like a workplace and more of a family. When they’re having fun on the job with people they consider friends, your employees are more likely to work hard for the benefit of those around them. As a result, they are less likely to let down those around them.
In addition, team building provides a way to keep every team member engaged in what’s happening in your company. When business is continually busy, it’s easy to lose sight of big picture goals and for team members to feel they are fulfilling their purpose.
Remember, each person in your company is important to your operations’ success (you wouldn’t have hired them if they weren’t essential, right?). Which means each person is worth the investment you make when you include them in a team building activity.
6. Team building breaks down barriers between employees and leadership.
Team building proves beneficial to more than just lateral peers. Some team leaders see short team building trips as the perfect way to get first-hand information from their subordinates.
For example, employees might be not happy with various aspects of the workplace, or maybe they might be unhappy with some of their colleagues. Successful managers use occasions like these to get their subordinates to open up and come forward with their worries, while reassuring them that the reason for such questions is to improve the overall activity of the company.
The whole purpose of team building exercises is to remove individuality as much as possible to increase the cohesion of the team. Team leaders should inquire about the team members’ personal goals, and then aid them in reaching those goals.
In addition, leadership teams should realize that team building with other leaders can be just as effective as team building with their subordinates. Granted, leaders typically already have excellent communication skills and understand what makes a team functional. But team building activities can help them strengthen their professional relationships with each other, as well as newly hired or promoted leaders.
All work and no play?
While it’s true that team building serves a specific purpose in your organization, that doesn’t mean that the event has to be all business all the time.
For example, during overnight team building trips, team members can be given time for relaxation before the ‘work’ begins. Give them a couple hours of pool time or sightseeing before your event starts, or give them some free time in the evening once the day’s activities are complete.
Indeed, you will want to make the most of your time together as a team, but forcing your team to spend every waking moment together during the event can prove counter-productive. When you inject a balance of teamwork and individuality, you stand a better chance of reaching your team building goals.
Give them time for your lessons to sink in, and you may find they willingly make team building a normal course of their day.