Considering that about a third of your life is spent at work, it makes sense to make the most of it. The people you pass your time with at work often end up being more than just co-workers. You get to know each other over the years, and may even meet each other’s families. It’s important to build trust with these people, as you’ll likely have to navigate difficult moments and work on solving problems together.
If you’re in a leadership role tasked with improving company culture, morale, or teamwork among employees, this post is particularly for you. We’ll talk about why it’s worth it to set aside time for your team to participate in a team-building activity or event. There are benefits to the business itself, but also for personal discovery and team bonding.
You may already be on board with the idea and just looking for motivation or specific ideas for your particular team. On the other hand, you might be less than enthusiastic about arranging another activity just to appease the corporate overlords. If you’re feeling uninspired, we can help remind you why team building is important, and offer up some suggestions for unique team activities. First, let’s focus on some of the reasons why a company would invest in team building, the same way a virtual keynote speaker would for your team!
Why we do Team Building
#1 Communication and Collaboration are Key to a Successful Team
There is certainly some self-interest from the perspective of the company when it comes to team building. Teams that can talk to each other and work together well are undoubtedly set up for success more than co-workers that can’t communicate. A company event that features a friendly competition might encourage teamwork and problem solving, which could come in handy for identifying strengths in the future. Teams that can solve a puzzle under pressure might be able to bring those strategizing skills from a semi-social setting back to the office.
Perhaps a particular activity could highlight how certain team members tend to ask for input from co-workers before making a move. Maybe some people try to form a consensus, or make sure everyone understands the rules, while others keep their eye on the clock and are always aware of the deadline. Teams can debrief after these activities to discuss which communication styles work well in different scenarios, how they feel about group dynamics, or what they appreciate about a person who tried a new approach.
When it’s time to get back to work, a team can choose to incorporate strategies or communication skills they’ve gathered during team-building exercises. And even if people don’t explicitly say they are going to try that new technique that Nadia tried during the Nerf battle, good ideas have a way of making their way in.
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#2 Team Building is Bigger Than the Bottom Line
Even though team building is a great investment for a company, it isn’t just about building up the business or getting employees to aspire to a new sales goal. Team-building activities often encourage people to share something about themselves that they might not normally share in the workplace. Employees will begin to open up when they are engaged in a fun activity or spending time together in a creative way. Ultimately, team building improves communication and strengthens bonds between people.
Team building is important for many reasons. When employees are fulfilled and have meaningful relationships with their team, it takes company culture to another level. Getting people together and engaged could lead to an increase in productivity, but perhaps more importantly, a sense of belonging and trust. And as we said earlier, the fact that we spend so much of our life at work means it’s essential to have our humanity acknowledged while we’re there. A team that can collaborate on a giant Jenga tower might just improve their ability to work through a conflict and stay positive when things get personal.
#3 Team Building Encourages Employees to Take Note of Each Other’s Strengths
At any given company people generally know who the office manager is, or can point out the CEO. However, team members aren’t just their titles. Every employee has strengths and weaknesses that play into their everyday interactions and overall success. Some team-building activities will require time on the part of all employees in order to get a more accurate picture of their strengths before an actual team activity or engagement.
A company might offer a Myers-Briggs assessment to employees to get a detailed personality profile, or have employees take a Strengths Finders test, where a person can measure the intensity of their talents with an in-depth questionnaire. Once completed, subsequent team building activities can focus on these traits, looking into things like learning and leadership styles.
Something like the Strengths Finders was developed to focus on the positive, since narrowing in on the negative and trying to get people to change can often cause conflict. Of course, when something is really wrong, a business better address it, but if underscoring employees’ strengths has proven better for workplace morale and office efficiency, why not accentuate the positive, just like that old song?
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There are several benefits of discussing team members’ strengths in a group. First, it encourages employees to get to know more about each other in a fun and informative way. Second, hearing about a team member’s tendencies in a new context, and reframed as a strength, can be critical for future collaboration. For example, there are those employees who are exceptionally effective at getting things done. They work tirelessly to achieve a goal. These individuals may seem to be constantly pointing out worst-case scenarios or seeing the negative. Strengths Finders describes someone with these characteristics as deliberative and describes it like this:
You know that the world is an unpredictable place. Everything may seem in order, but beneath the surface you sense many risks. Rather than denying these risks, you draw each one out into the open. Then each risk can be identified, assessed, and ultimately reduced.
While no one wants to be a Debbie Downer, sometimes seeing the not-so-bright-side is essential. Every successful business needs people who make decisions with care and caution. It’s important to build teams that have workers with a variety of strengths. Some employees are bound to be more goal-oriented, while others lean towards emphasizing flexibility and like to leave options open. This is why working together in a team requires communication.
We have shown some of the ways that collaboration, communication, and creativity within a team-building event can boost camaraderie and productivity. So now that we’ve discussed the importance of team building, let’s move along to how it’s done.
How to do Team Building
There’s basically no limit to how a company can do team building. Any time you gather workers together for a fun or non-work-related activity, there’s the potential for people to interact and make more meaningful connections. It could even be as simple as going to a baseball game or concert together as a team. Just remember that while an event might include some costs, any time together that improves teamwork is a good investment.
You can develop your own ideas or draw upon the many resources that people in the corporate world have already tested out for you. Below are just a few ideas to get the gears of your team-building brain turning.
#1 Focus on Fun & Games
If you thought escape rooms were only for big parties or teenagers looking for a scare, think again. You can actually work with companies to bring the escape room experience to your office. As with so many other things these days, these types of activities can translate to the virtual world, so your team members don’t even have to be in the same location for this to work. An employee on the east coast can face off against an employee out west. You can even hire a top rated virtual comedian.
There will be many opportunities to get to know your team better, and have a good time while you’re at it. How will the group work towards a goal, and how will Maria on the Tennessee team handle a bank heist when time is of the essence? (For legal purposes, we just want to say we’re still speaking about a virtual game, of course).
With so many folks binging murder mystery shows or crime-related podcasts, why not lean in and see who can crack a case or decipher a particularly challenging puzzle? Your team building activity can be fun and a little spooky at the same time. You may even decide to do a friendly competition to see if the engineering team or marketing team is more effective at collecting clues and connecting the dots. There is always the option of giving out prizes, but the real goal is to build relationships and feel more connected to co-workers.
#2 Learning About and From Each Other
Though we already touched on the team-building activities that focus on the personalities and strengths of employees, it’s worth repeating. These types of events can take the form of an all-day retreat, after the initial assessments have been completed. It is valuable for a person to see some of their characteristics and behaviors through a new lens. The activities that session leaders conduct can improve how an employee sees their role within different teams, and feel better about what they contribute to the company culture.
And while we’re on the subject of learning, you could do a skillshare series where team members interact with each other around specific areas of interest. If someone has a mini-brewery in their basement and wants to do a tasting as they talk about the process, why not give them some stage time and have a DIY happy hour (either at their home or in the office after work hours)? Maybe someone in the group can teach country line dancing or salsa. See if they want to organize a special dance party night. Of course, you don’t want to make folks feel uncomfortable or in charge of entertaining the entire team, so you can always bring in a professional to entertain the group.
#3 Let’s Get Physical
Physical exercise can have a profound impact not only on your body, but your mind as well. (And – spoiler alert – your brain is actually part of your body and it’s all tied together). It releases endorphins and other chemicals that basically make you feel better. Exercise is a break from whatever you were just doing, which was probably work-related. Most experts will also tell you it’s a much healthier distraction than incessantly scrolling through social media.
Physical activity in a team setting can build trust and positive feelings between people. That’s one of the reasons why some companies start kickball, softball, or volleyball teams. If you’re running around and participating in some convivial competition, you’ll be building friendships and maybe even building a little muscle mass as well. You can even lose a game and still win. How’s that for some good odds?
If starting a season-long sports activity seems like too much work, there are still ways to get active. Again, you don’t have to come up with a new idea all on your own. The internet is filled with ways to incorporate physical activity in your team building. There are virtual options like tennis or Just Dance, or you could always create an obstacle course in the parking lot of your building. The possibilities are endless.
Now that you have a better understanding of the importance of team building, you may already be brainstorming some brilliant ideas of your own, like hiring a virtual magician for your online event.
If you get stumped, or need help with an activity for your company, never hesitate to contact us. We have experience working in all sorts of corporate settings and can come in with comedy or magic to make the day much better for any team-building event.
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Adam Christing is a professional comedy magician, virtual MC, and the founder of CleanComedians.com. He is a member of the world-famous Magic Castle in Hollywood and a popular virtual comedian, magician, and virtual speakers for hire.