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Make Team Building Work For You

One of the most challenging aspects of managing a workplace is building a company culture and creating a sense of community. Your employees will have very different life experiences, with varying interests, ages, and personalities. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to developing a team rather than just a loose affiliation of coworkers. It’s imperative to figure out what works for your team—your long-term success depends on it.

What are the benefits of team building?

To put it lightly, team building gets a bad rap. Most of the time, people associate it with corny, infantilizing workshops that try to haphazardly force employees to “bond.” Despite its tarnished reputation, team building can be one of the most crucial aspects of being a manager. There are numerous benefits to team building:

  1. Mitigate conflict in advance
  2. Instills healthy communication
  3. Increases collaboration
  4. Boosts your ROI
  5. Fun for everyone, if done well.

Point blank, if you aren’t proactive in fostering good interpersonal relationships within your team, you’ll lose money and face retention issues down the line. But what does a good team building program look like?

Where do I start?

Don’t overthink it. Team building activities don’t need to be structured—oftentimes the “goal” is implicit in the activity, rather than explicitly stated. If you simply go out bowling, to a sports game, or to a concert, people will naturally start to develop relationships. Some well received team building outings include:

  • Scavenger hunts
  • Movie nights
  • Museum-based team building seminars
  • Lunch outings / happy hour
  • Holiday parties
  • Board game tournament
  • Training and running a 5k for charity

It’s critical to not cut corners on your investment. You don’t need to overspend on lavish activities, but don’t be overly stingy. It will look like you’re not making an effort and it can make your employees resent you. If the activity involves a game, there should be a prize that your employees actually want, like an extra day off.

Team building activities should never be a one-off experience. After all, building company culture is a project that is never complete—it’s an ongoing investment that you make in order to retain employees, keep morale strong, and keep your company on track. You should have team building events on a frequent basis. Your employees will have something to look forward to— they’ll stay motivated, and you’ll be able to develop a community among your employees.

No two team building programs will look alike. What you do will depend on your employees, their lifestyles, demographics, experience, and location. What’s critical is that the activities are tailored to your employees interests—if they express a preference for certain team building initiatives, take note and adjust accordingly.

A sense of community in your office helps employee retention and will allow you to grow talent, ensuring the long-term health of your organization. If your employees feel like they’re on the same team, they’ll find more occasions to collaborate, to work together, and to communicate with each other. They will also be less likely to be in conflict or competition with each other, which can harm company culture and disrupt overall workflow. Team building exercises aren’t a detail or a “perk,” they’re an essential component of managing your team.

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