Team building is a widely used activity that delivers results, but not for everyone. No matter how impressive your team members are, if you fail to unite these ‘WOW’ personalities, you will not make the most of their potential.
The best approach to team-building exercises is the scientific one. It leverages the strengths and expertise of professionals trained in various fields and brings them together.
How? You are about to find out …
How does it work?
According to the scientific study “Does team building work?”, team building is the most used method of creating a successful team.
But what we want to know is why? Why is team building so popular? And most importantly – does it work? These questions are answered by the above research. A group of professionals looked at four specific components for team building:
- Goal setting
- Interpersonal relationships
- Solving problems
- Identifying roles
The results show that team building has a positive moderate effect on all team activities. They go into further detail by identifying the processes of goal setting and role clarification as to the most crucial.
Now that we know team building works it is time to see how do we make it work for your team as well?
The five steps to creating the dream team
The first thing is goal setting. When you determine the desired results quantitatively and qualitatively, it will be easier to make a list of the resources you need.
Second, for team-building exercises to be effective, the team has to identify what challenges it is facing. With this method, the members will understand what skills need improvement. Start by asking these questions:
- What weaknesses are the cause of our biggest mistakes?
- Do people feel comfortable when communicating with each other?
- What is the focus of team members – individual achievement or shared success?
- Do people feel appreciated?
- What stands in the way of our collaboration?
You may already know the answer to these questions, but we recommend to seek feedback from other participants.
Third, let team members take part in the goal-setting process to further engage them with the organization. They will become more personally and emotionally involved with the activities of the group and work harder to achieve organizational goals.
Then we get to interpersonal relationships. Cooperation is not always easy to achieve. Jon Katzenbach and Douglas Smith said:
“Groups do not become teams simply because that is what someone calls them.”
Sometimes you will have to insist that employees work together and become a team. You need to find a way to encourage communication and collaboration.
Lastly, team members are individual personalities with their desires, needs, and goals. That is why it is important to identify the roles within the team from the beginning. Understanding personal responsibility and obligations is an important part of the process. This helps to set clear expectations by defining a hierarchy. But what happens when a conflict arises?
In that case, you will need strong problem-solving capabilities. Encourage your team to think outside the box and explore different ways to meet the challenges of the workplace.
Perform the team building activities
Successful team-building exercises should:
- Allow everyone on the team to speak
- Encourage active listening
- Form relationships between colleagues
- Arouse enthusiasm and positivity
After going through the five stages of developing a dream team, determine what are the key qualities for your members. Put extra effort into employees who struggle to acquire some of them. Remember, the team consists of different members each with their strengths and weaknesses.
Pay attention to the details
In addition to goals, roles, and a set of activities, you will need to pay attention to some details.
The role of the manager
Many managers want to stimulate team building, but do not include themselves as active players in the process. The team should belong to its members, but the leader plays a key role in its formation.
Leadership determines success.
Take for example the football teams which have won the World Cup. They did not develop spontaneously, but with the help and guidance of a leader whose job it is to:
Keep your team away from competitive activities. They may reveal the worst traits of some people and will probably ruin the whole session.
Do not include exercises that require specialized skills. This will isolate people who do not know how to don’t have the required skills and cause separation. We designed KissTheFrogNow in such a way that every member of the team can take part in all 120 games.
By using the tool you will develop a team, not a working group. What is the difference? Members of a working group compete with each other. Team members strive to outperform other organizations.
Perfectionism versus consistency
There are companies where HR departments spend days inventing brand new team building activities and keep a strict schedule. Do they always achieve the desired results? No.
You don’t have to be perfect. You must be consistent:
- Think about the quality, not the quantity, of your team building activities.
- Remember, the measure of success is not the number of hours spent in team-building sessions. It is the increased efficiency and employee satisfaction
When choosing team-building exercises, focus on those which:
- help employees identify their strengths and recognize the strength of their colleagues
- promote collaboration rather than team competitiveness
Prepare the introverts
Extroverts are dynamic during team building sessions. However, introverts often need more time to relax. Inform them in advance so they can mentally prepare.
Usually, shy team members may not have the same communication skills or enthusiasm as their colleagues. That does not mean that they are not engaged!
A full belly and a happy heart
Don’t make people go out of their comfort zone on an empty stomach! You are about to get doomed. Hunger affects our:
- emotional state
- ability to concentrate
It is a good idea to prepare drinks and some snacks for team building sessions. Let’s eat it… for the team!
Dividing the team during team-building exercises
Divide participants into groups in a transparent manner never according to their:
Similar classification may offend some of the members. We designed a unique piece for Kiss The Frog Now – the team totem, to help prevent disruptions due to discrimination.
You can divide participants into smaller groups or pairs by using the different shapes that make up the totem – small and large triangles, squares, and circles.
The team can use the totem shapes to build a 3D sculpture. It is a reflection of their emotions during the facilitation.
How do I measure team building results?
Team building gives businesses a chance to measure things we usually find immeasurable. For example, successful teams demonstrate:
- higher energy levels
- increased engagement
All these things are difficult to “measure” in a scientific sense. But we both know nothing is impossible, right?!
Almost every characteristic of the successful team relies on communication. Communication can be measured by collecting data or making simple observations such as:
- how active each employee is during team-building exercises
- are they actively listening
- what is their tone of voice
- what is their timbre
- what is their body language
This kind of behaviour can then be analyzed. Thus, team building exercises will allow you to see how effectively the team communicates to achieve a common goal.
How to harvest long-term gains from team building
Encourage your team to learn and implement the lessons from team-building sessions in their workday. Make a list of them to remind colleagues about:
- their achievements as a team
- what had been learned
Continuous improvement has to become part of the business culture and a single team building session is not enough to achieve this. Schedule regular weekly or monthly events to maintain momentum. And remember that persistence is the key to success.