Whether you’re a small business owner or in a leadership position at a large company, one of the challenges you probably face on a daily basis is how to build an effective team. Are you starting fresh with a new initiative or product, or perhaps trying to improve existing team function in the work place?
Incorporating team strategy, optimizing for excellent communication and building trust are absolutely vital to your success. The importance of building the connections between your employees cannot be understated.
When setting out to create a more effective team, it’s helpful to imagine each of your team members as individual building blocks. Imagine, for example, that you’re holding a box of Legos. You dump this box of legos out onto the floor.
Reds, greens, yellows….these blocks are everywhere. If you don’t take the steps needed to build connections between these pieces properly, all you have is a big mess of individual blocks scattered across the floor, ready to bury their sharp edges into your tender feet.
Building proper connections is the crucial difference between a jumbled, potentially painful mess and a glorious Lego castle masterpiece. The question is, how do you successfully create the connections that hold your company’s “castle” together? What is the best way to build an effective team at work?
Foster The Key Elements of Connection
Connection is the life blood of every effective team… the glue that holds the whole thing together. Strengthening and improving this connection may seem difficult, but it can be accomplished if you focus on the right areas. Here’s a resource with key team building components to help you figure out just how to build better connections among your group. They’re summarized here below.
- Trust: Simply put, your team members must trust each other in order to feel comfortable enough to share new ideas. Without trust, there can be no open and honest communication, and therefore no true innovation. Create an environment that fosters trust between team members.
- Communication: Proper and effective communication is vital to any organization, big or small. If your employees don’t know how to talk to each other and how to listen to each other, the pieces will never fit together properly.
- Collaboration: If your employees can’t work together on tasks, projects, and goals, then how can they ever build an effective team? Get your employees working on fun, low pressure problem solving activities as a group so that the collaborative spirit is in full force when you really need it.
- Motivation: In order to perform well together, your team has to be properly motivated. Create a clear, shared vision for the future of your company so everyone is aligned on long term goals. Additionally, a little bit of healthy competition while completing low stakes tasks can help get people motivated!
Tools To Build An Effective Team
Engaging, targeted team building activities can help you foster these qualities of connection in your company culture and help you build an effective team.
The very words “team building” might bring a shudder to your bones, but don’t let the ghosts of team building past haunt you with awkward memories. There are plenty of creative ways to forge lasting connections between your team that won’t leave you begging for extra vacation days.
Here are a few of my favorite facilitated team activities that will foster the key qualities of connection within your team:
1. Build Something Together: Think With Your Hands, a Lego team building activity facilitated by my friend and fellow team building facilitator Jody Lentz, is an incredible activity for effective program that is easy scalable from a twenty person conference room to a large ballroom with hundreds of tables.
Small groups of people will build models that represent the current state of your organization. You’ll then create another set of models that show where you’d like your organization to be in the future.
The nice thing about lego team building is that everyone gets to play with their own toys at first, i.e. dip your toe in the playing together nice pool slowly, and then the facilitator encourages each group to pull from the best parts of the individual model to create an ideal model of what you’re all envisioning.
You’ll foster communication skills, collaborate by adding your creation to the larger structure, and motivate by forming a clearer vision of shared goals for your company, all in one fun Lego building session.
2. Get Musical: As adults in professional settings, we train our brains to attack problems very literally and logically. When your team is problem solving as a group, whether they are synthesizing a new protein or writing a new slogan for a hair spray brand, they are probably sitting around, thinking quite literally about the problem at hand, until the point that they get stuck. Now what?
When Einstein would feel stuck or stumped, he would pick up his beloved violin or sit down at the piano and just play. After a while, he would leap up from the piano or put down his violin and announce that he had just “found” the answer. By quieting his thinking mind and drifting into the realm of music, he tapped into his intuition and changed the world. In fact, Einstein even said that the “theory of relativity occurred to me by intuition” while he was taking a break from the proof at hand and playing his violin.
If music did the trick for Einstein to get out of a rut and into the theory of relativity, it should definitely do the trick to get your employees tapped in to some Grade A collaborative problem solving.
So a great way to get your team thinking differently and working together is through music. Through the programs we offer here at Kidbilly Music, your group will come together over the course of a few hours and build trust by sharing ideas and engaging emotionally as you become songwriters and performers. You’ll get a taste of the power of collaboration, much like a fine-tuned orchestra or great band.
3. Story Slams: A story slam is a great activity to foster creativity, communication and active listening in your group. All you need for this activity is a few minutes, a strong theme, and a volunteer to go first!
Ask each member of your team to tell true story based on their own experience around the chosen theme in five minutes or less. Your team members will get to know each other better, express themselves, and be creative, all while honing their sharing and listening skills. The lines of communication within the workplace become stronger, and you will be well on the way to building an effective team that can talk and listen.
Looking to add a bit more motivation? Appoint a judging panel and add in a few prizes and voila, you’ll have some healthy competition to motivate everyone to dig deep into their own stories.
Trust, Communication & Shared Experience
Building and effective team takes initiative along with the valuable resource of time and consistency. Ultimately, you won’t succeed unless you start with your own efforts.
Schedule time to further investigate the ideas here. Begin with conversation and activities that bring your team together. Trust, communication and shared experience are cornerstones for how to build an effective team.