For many of us, the phrase ‘team building’ will conjure up ideas of building straw structures to resemble bridges, thinking up an ‘interesting’ fact about ourselves or performing trust falls. While these activities may be traditional team building methods, today’s workforce are open to a much wider variety of activities which have just as effective results.
What does it achieve?
The goals of team building activities can be varied, from improving communication amongst colleagues, to increasing cohesion or boosting morale. Activities can be tailored to suit one particular purpose, or may try to encompass all of the above. For example, activities where colleagues must interact with each other in order to achieve a certain goal would help to improve communication and problem-solving skills. However, nowadays, team building days are becoming increasingly centred around colleagues coming together to have some fun.
What kind of methods are used in team building?
Team building activities can take a wide array of formats, including the weird and the wonderful. This infographic from Colonial Life explores the unusual methods opted for by some of the world’s most famous bosses. For example, the head of British insurance company Admiral gets employees to participate in a game called ‘egg roulette’, which sees individuals smash an egg onto their head. The idea is that one in six eggs isn’t hard boiled, so employees are participating in a game of chance.
Admiral aren’t alone in their love of unusual team building techniques: Coca Cola’s employees have participated in flash mobbing, those at Facebook can take part in sailing around Boston Harbour and the Food Truck Challenge is a favourite of Yahoo! employees.
How does this apply to me?
While every business is unlikely to have the same kind of budget as the likes of Facebook, Uber or Yahoo! for team building, there are ways to apply their ethos to your business. For a start, as we can see, team building needn’t be stuffy or corporate, in fact most businesses seem to shy away from this method. Instead, many businesses try to disguise team building as socialising or participating in something that’s so much fun that it doesn’t really feel like it’s work-related.
It is important to understand what you want to be gained from these activities, thinking about both the business as a whole and the individual. For many businesses, team building is about bringing people together, sometimes particularly allowing for cross-department socialising. In a big company, it can be easy to go weeks or months without talking to someone who sits in the same office, just because they aren’t working on the same project as you. Therefore, team building days can be a great way of getting colleagues to regroup and strengthen ties between departments.
What other activities could we do?
The choice of team building exercises is one best made based on the aims of the activity, but also the personality of the company and its employees. For example, for a young or particularly active workforce, activities such a white water rafting or rock climbing could bring out the best in people. Whereas, others may find that a simple company-wide picnic, or inter-team dining experience is the best way forward. Whatever you choose to do to bring out the best in your employees or to hone new skills, it needn’t be dull, as the infographic below shows.
About the author: Jessie Avery is an insurance agent and representative of Colonial Life. They regularly provide advice and opportunities for small business owners.