Strong Teams Take Work

Successful team building requires that teams have good relationships, good communication, and share a common goal.  Team members must be able to freely speak their mind, ask for help, share ideas, provide honest feedback, accept constructive criticism, and risk making mistakes.  For this to happen, there must be a certain level of trust between the team members.  Team building activities can help with this.  Also, friendly communications are more likely to happen when team members know and respect each other.  Team building can lead to increased productivity and creativity, higher levels of job satisfaction and commitment, higher levels of trust and support, and better operating policies and procedures.

What do you think of when you hear team building activities?  I think of the high ropes course or falling backwards off a chair praying my coworkers will catch me, but team building activities don’t always have to be big events.  They can be simple things such as a drawing game, where in pairs back to back, one person has to describe to the other how to draw the item that is on their card using only shapes.  The other person draws and tries to guess what they are drawing.  Once the exercise is complete the pairs can discuss any communication issues they may have found during the game.  There are tons of team building exercise ideas out there that can correlate with whatever you are trying to do:  build trust, improve communication, improve relationships, etc.  One popular team builder is team sports, but be careful with this one because not everyone on the “team” may like the sport, or be good at it, which can create tension.  Also, some team members will be much more competitive than others, which can make what is supposed to be a just for fun game, a less than fun environment, and in addition it can reduce the “oneness” of the team.

What about the frequency of these team building activities?  A lot of companies may have only one big event a year.  In training for a marathon one must train about 4 times a week, every week leading up to the race.  For the average person, you cannot expect to just show up to the race with one or two training runs under your belt and expect to finish all 26.2 miles of the race in one piece!  It is just not realistic.  The same thing goes for team building activities; one or two planned activities per year may not be enough to keep your team on the right track like regular, continuous training does.  Now I’m not saying that you need to do team building activities 4 times per week, but team building does need to happen continuously if you want your team to be successful.

What are some team building activities you have used? 

Have they worked for you?  Pros/Cons?

How often do you do these activities?