Three Rules for Team Building By Christina Stewart

Team Building has a really bad rap.  The thought of even communicating with some colleagues outside of the office can send shivers down a spine or two.  The thought of being forced into uncomfortable and foolish situations with workmates is enough to bring on an actual stomach flu for many employees.

But here’s the deal: Team Building shouldn’t be uncomfortable, goofy or embarrassing – but it does require communicating. When an employer is putting together a team building session there are a few rules for ensuring your investment pays off.

Rule #1 Team Building is a Reward

At the end of it your people should feel like you appreciate them and the work they do in the office.  When planning a session, channel your inner Stephen Covey  and begin with the end in mind.  Ask yourself: Why am I doing this? What message am I sending to my team?  The answers should be related to gratitude and appreciation.  If you are doing this on the heels of any kind of breakdown or conflict within the team – your timing is all wrong.  Conflicts and disagreements need to be dealt with in the office not covered up in high ropes courses and ice cream. If you are doing it to say thanks, then carry on to Rule #2.

Rule #2 Don’t Make it Corporate

If your Team Building feels like a day at the office, your team might as well be at the office. Adding in an option for Learning and Development is fabulous – getting out of the office to learn a new skill or develop in areas like conflict management and communication is a good use of time but making it all work and no play makes for a very big waste of an opportunity.  Adding a healthy chunk of pizzazz and fun is an effective way to, well, build a team.  Sharing an experience, hanging out together, or working thru a group challenge allows connections to happen more spontaneously and far more successfully.

Rule #3 No One Should be Forced to Be Silly

I’m a big believer in developing teams through activities; dinners out, bowling, taking in a concert, ball games, playing pool, go karting, kayaking, even catching a flick – notice nowhere in that list do I mention anything that would require contortion, charades, rolling on the floor, or having any employee step waaaay outside of their comfort zone.  Weird tricks and crazy antics should be left for people to engage in on their own time with their own friends. There’s a slim percentage of the public who actually enjoy that stuff, why force it on your team? Suggesting that if only your team engaged in trust falls thy would miraculously work better together is insulting.   

Taking your team someplace fun, away from the office in order to say thank you makes for a team that feels appreciated and has fun in the office.