When I mention I’m passionate about team building, the eyes roll or look away. The conversation shifts and the comments usually go something like this: “That was so yesterday, so pre-recession. Talk to me about something with ROI. My boss won’t go for a team building program now. ”But being an undeterred optimist, I take this response as an invitation to enlighten people about why I am passionate about team building. Because there’s plenty of ROI; there’s relevancy, efficacy and value.
In fact, you can’t afford not to practice team building. Quite often, taking a break from the every day work routine cuts down on negative energy and creates efficiency and enthusiasm when you return to work. It’s important to plan a meaningful break to recharge, gain new perspective, to recognize and address areas within a group’s culture that can be improved. Think of how productive and focused we all feel after a return from a personal vacation. I’m always struck by how much more efficiently I work after a good break, and how I gain perspective and objectivity during my absence from every day work routine. A well-planned, productive team building program, much like a personal vacation, helps us all renew and gives us opportunity to identify what’s really important to our organizations.
Qualified team building providers facilitate programs that are catalysts for change within organizations, propelling growth, promoting a positive culture and healing rifts. It’s OK if there’s fun involved, too. Fun is a necessary component to sustaining a high level of activity, engagement and buy-in for an organization’s mission. The team building event should be engaging, interactive, intelligent and welcoming; it should promote creativity.
Pre-program questionnaires are vital to ascertain what your objectives, challenges and ideals are. They can be as simple as email questionnaires or they can be detailed pre-program assessment tools such as the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument or The Team Dimension Profile. With a pre-program assessment and defined objectives, you can make sure your team building event will key in on areas that need to be addressed. An effective debriefing is vital to producing lasting results. Questions and discussions might include things like:
- What was learned during the event?
- What new awareness was created?
- What is the plan of action to implement what was learned?
- What support does your workforce need to try to follow those action steps and maintain the new lines of communication established during the team building event?
An effective debrief won’t mean much if there isn’t follow-up by the facilitator, such as email reminders to participants, surveys assessing results several months after the event and reports to managers. Objective evaluations of areas of strength and of weakness, especially from the outside, help organizations move from old models and shake things up in the interest of growth and renewed efficiency.
Last, but certainly not least, a team building experience is just that – an experience. Having group experiences to promote engagement and emotional involvement within your organization are vital to sustaining what you do. Think about a past experience you have had, maybe a favorite vacation. You might not remember the hotel room you were in, or even the name of the beach, but the memory will take you back to that emotional place, and you’ll reconnect with the feelings you had at the time. Team building is a great way to accomplish that.
Summary of Team Building Benefits
There are real benefits to incorporating team building activities into your program, including:
- Increased efficiency through sharing of common practices, questions, concerns and challenges
- Better problem solving through networking and sharing solutions to common challenges
- Increased morale leading to higher retention, efficiency and creativity
- A more cohesive, united vision and mission
Much of this article was also featured in my post for Connect Meetings Magazine, June issue.