Physical team building exercises are a means to teach members of an organization to work together horizontally and vertically. Building a high performing team is a goal in most corporations, because a team that understands how its members work and think is more likely to increase production and efficiency. In order to achieve the goal of becoming a high performing team, physical team building exercises have become quite popular in within corporations around the world. Commonly most corporations hold some sort of business event at either a company or department level at least once per year.
Physical team building exercises are designed not just to teach the members of the team to work together as a unit to reach a goal, but also to teach the members of the team how each other think and work to solve problems. These types of exercises should be monitored and evaluated by an experienced professional that can give feedback to the managers and team members so that they are not reduced to just a corporate trip to a posh resort for an afternoon of games. It should be a learning experience for everyone involved.
A lot of these exercises are military in style. While military style team building does teach a group how to work as a team in order to complete a task, such games have limited value to a corporation. Military techniques are great for building trust in the team and teaching members to work as a unit, but they do little to help the team members to understand how one another think.
The best types of group building games for corporations are initiative games that focus more on the process than the end. By presenting the team with a problem and then observing how different members of the team approach the solution, the team gets a better understanding of the thought process of its members. In these types of physical team building exercises, succeeding at the task is not as important as the decisions being make by the team members and their reactions to one another.
Employee team building is an organizational goal. Every employer aims at having a dream team but in real life few succeed. If you are an employer working with good teams, teams that are successful, teams you are proud of, you are indeed in a select club.
Good teams understand the organizational expectations and are clear about their goals and objectives. The organization understands the importance of good team and is ready with the support the teams may require in terms of time and resource allocation etc. Top management must constantly be in the loop.
Employee team building process requires that expectations from the teams should be clearly conveyed to each of the team member. Each team member is deemed responsible for achieving the team goals. There should be high level of commitment and understanding among the teammates. Each one is assigned their individual roles but each one together is held responsible if the target is missed and goals remain unachieved. There should be absolute clarity in the designation of roles and there should not be any overlapping of authority. Everyone wins together and loses together. In a team, it is not about individual aspirations, it is all about individual aspirations woven into organizational aspirations.
Is it really worth putting one’s effort into building teams? Practically there is plenty of scope for things to go wrong and they do. A consistent and focused approach by all the team members to stay committed to the team efforts is needed to keep it all together and in ship-shape.
Employee team building exercises needs frank discussions and open communication. On paper it all looks simple but when one executes the plan, it is normally seen that problems that lead to complications generally stem from lack of proper communication. Trust is a very essential ingredient in keeping team-mates together. Team building exercises can help develop trust and encourage bonding. All interpersonal issues should be resolved at the earliest. All concerns should be readily addressed.
Are the efforts of the teams coordinated by a central leadership to ensure that they achieve the goals? Do the teams you manage have freedom to fail and thus learn? Do you encourage new ideas? Do you need a horizontal structure of teams to accomplish your goals or the vertical structure with layers of hierarchies suit your purpose. Can you stomach setbacks and failures encountered by your team with grace? Have your teams been given the framework of time and allocated resources to work within? What is the accepted level of risk taking capacity in the organization? Do you have the right reward system that acknowledges not just team efforts but also individual contribution? All these questions need to be answered honestly. Effective employee team building process involves all these dimensions and more.
Team building programmes can help your business by improving the communication, levels of trust and general understanding between the members of a team. They can also help you to solve problems or to improve planning within the team as a whole. They can also help individuals to understand group dynamics and their individual skills and how they fit into the team and their understanding of their place within the organisation.
It is important when thinking about creating a team building experience for a team in your organisation that you plan it carefully. A negative experience can irreparably damage your team’s morale and have the opposite effect that you were hoping to create. If you have no in-house expertise in this area it may be worth calling in the experts. Depending on your budget and/or plans this could involve someone offering an initial consultancy through to designing and administering a bespoke programme for you. One of the benefits of working with a facilitator for your team building is that they have experience of using a range of recognised diagnostic tools and instruments. This means that you can be confident that your team building experience is a positive one and meets all of your chosen objectives and makes a positive contribution to your business’ performance.
There are a number of different general types of team building exercises that you could use depending on the areas that you want to address. For example there are problem solving exercises with an objective of encouraging flexible thinking and creativity. There are also planning or communication activities and these can develop the importance of these business processes, as well as exercises that have the aim of developing trust between the members of a team. Within these categories the activities can take a range of different forms from social and/or group bonding activities through to personal development activities or activities to analyse team roles and dynamics.
There are a number of important factors that you need to take into consideration when you are planning your next team building exercise. One of the first factors is to ensure that there is understanding of the need for the session and one way of doing this is to connect any activity to the team’s day to day work and any obstacles that have been identified. It is also important to create a sense of ownership and to follow up any of the outcomes of the session as agreed. Nothing is more likely to foster a negative team environment than getting the team to work together to create solutions or ideas then ignore any of the outcomes. It is not enough even to implement a measure that comes out of the sessions but you should make sure that you tell the team what is happening and when, so they can really appreciate the value of the session and know that they have been listened to too. If it is not possible to implement any of the outcomes it is important to communicate why really carefully.
Other ways to help your team building session to be a success is to get the individuals within the team involved in the preparation of the event. This could be by simply seeking initial feedback on their issues and concerns, holding a survey of what the team members think the obstacles are in improving productivity or getting a small group to work with the consultants to plan the whole programme. By making the event something they can buy into rather than something that is ‘done’ to them, team members will have a positive approach to the event from the beginning. If some of the team members are hostile to the idea of team building exercises, possibly because of negative experiences in the past, try linking it with other activities. Perhaps the whole team needs training on a new computer system. Rather than a simple IT training session why not link in a team building strand to the event.
As well as things to build into your event there are also a number of things to try and avoid, for example try and make sure that the session is pitched at the right level. While some may enjoy fun ice breaker type activities, chances are your team are already very busy people and if they think that you are wasting their time it will probably put them in a negative mindset for the session. Similarly though overly complex tasks or physically or emotionally draining activities should also be avoided, you want to try and engage everyone. While there are many benefits to be gained from taking your team out of the office for some outdoor and/or physical development activity make sure you take into account the makeup of your team and make sure that all members of the team will be able to contribute to activities and complete them in a satisfactory way.
Team building programmes can give a business a vital competitive edge over their competitors by not only improving productivity but also improving morale and leadership skills, developing new procedures and processes or identifying blockages that are holding back the team’s and therefore the business’ performance. They can also help teams to identify their strengths and weaknesses and to clearly identify the team’s goals and objectives and to help them feel ownership of these goals and objectives. A truly effective team building experience will have long lasting effects both on the performance of the team and the organisation and will also act as a stepping stone for future development activities.