The problem with most Team Building activities is that they aren’t relevant, they feel fake and they make people uncomfortable. And your team don’t enjoy them and think they are a waste of time. So what can you do that will be genuinely useful and not make people want to run a mile.
Ask the important questions …
- What do you like around here? What don’t you like? What would you change?
- What do your leaders do that you want them to carry on doing? What do they do that you would like them to do more? What new things would you like them to do?
- What do you think we should do about a specific problem?
Do this properly. Give people time to think about it before you get together. Make sure everyone gets heard. Try getting everyone to write down one answer and then read them out from newest team member to oldest. Discuss the ideas and rank them. Put them on post-it notes and move them around on a wall while talking about them over coffee.
… and listen to the answers
The crucial thing is that the practice leaders genuinely want to hear the answers and appreciate that the team may come up with better things than they could think of. While the leaders have the ultimate say in what actions are viable it is important to implement the things you come with if you can.
Asking them meaningful questions helps your team get a sense of ownership of the work they do and that their views are appreciated. It also reminds the leaders that they don’t have all the answers and although they have a vision for where the practice is going, getting there needs the whole team.
Share your appreciation
Start by reminding your team that people take in criticisms to heart 10 times as strongly as compliments so to encourage each other we need to focus on the good things we want to see more of.
Get everyone to complete the sentence “You help me do better because…” for each of their colleagues. The important thing is that you ask people to make sure the things they say are genuine and specific to the person. After the event you collate the answers for each person and print the off for them.
Or get everyone to choose a word or phrase which sums up what the person means to them and do a personal word cloud for them using an online word cloud generator (e.g. www.wordclouds.com)
People feel encouraged when they are told what they do well and that makes them want to do more things that are helpful to the people around them. But also, thinking about the positive qualities of their fellow team members makes them appreciate their colleagues more and improves relationships.
What about the fun stuff?
Go Karting, Paint Balling, Bollywood Dancing, Spa Days, Go Ape etc. are all fun things to do as long as your team actually want to do them. Enjoying social time together can help teams get to know each other but you may find that regular smaller events like practice lunches may be more effective. Activities with purpose, like volunteering, can help your team bond, especially if they help your local community. But it is important to remember that team building is actually more about all the little day to day interactions, being kind to each other and helping each other.