Team Building Exercises – Key to Employee Interaction and Corporate Success

Once you have built a team and established a common objective, you will need to develop a plan to achieve your objective. If you think getting people together in collective support of one goal was difficult, making them work together is even more of a challenge.

Teamwork requires cooperation and sharing of knowledge. Because a group has people of varied personalities, skills, work attitude, and personal agendas, getting them to work in harmony can be difficult. However, Team Building Exercises can help bring members together in cooperative focus on goal achievement.

No team succeeds upon the contribution of only one person. If you have already successfully built a team, it means your group members are aware of their individual responsibilities and that collective work will help them achieve larger objectives. However, you must understand that your group is, after all, made up of a group of strangers who have little connection with each other beyond the walls of the office.

Team Building Exercises will in fact, help establish that ‘missing link’ between your team members by establishing cordial relations that will help increase work efficiency and strengthen the team.

To understand which team building exercise is best for your team, conducting a personality test session of your team members is recommended. Consult your research and development wing on a suitable corporate personality test and insist your group members take it. Individual personality test results will assist you in deciding which exercises will best aid your team-building goal.

There are two kinds of this exercises: Outdoor Activity and Indoor Activity.

Outdoor activities focus on team building outside of the office or work arena. Indoor activities focus on building employee relations inside company premises. Outdoor and Indoor activities can also be combined to enhance employee experience.

Types Games: These include puzzle solving, board games, mime games, song and dance games, indoor golf, passing the parcel games, musical chairs, 3-leg racing, bobbing for apples, dart games, treasure hunting, etc. The idea is to have fun and break the ice between employees.

Social Events: Cocktail parties, dinners, lunches, dance parties, and picnics are perfect social events to bring employees together. To keep these events strictly social and encourage free mingling, the management often exempts itself from these kinds of celebrations. Employees are free to do, as they want without the watchful eye of the management.

Workshops: Training programs, problem solving activities and skill-based workshops will produce effective results. Workshops are not only educational, but they bring employees closer through discussions and awareness of the other’s job profile and how it will affect or be affected by individual performance. Such awareness increases responsibility and ownership of individual projects.

Other team building events include charitable events, awards functions, client meetings, customer forums, feedback and appraisal sessions, and project-based discussions of related departments.

How Team Communication Is Enhanced Through Team Building Exercises

Team building is an important strategy used by modern organizations to enhance performance through synergistic interactions. One of the main requirements for teams to function effectively is the ability of team members to communicate with ease among themselves. To this end, team building exercises boost the communication abilities of workers in a number of ways:

They become better listeners.

Listening is perhaps the most underrated communication skill. Many people hear but they do not listen and this leads to misunderstanding. Engaging in exciting and challenging group activities allows workers to interact with and know one another in a more relaxed setting. As they intermingle, they learn to appreciate one another and to listen because they expect valuable information from each of their work-mates.

They exercise empathy.

Team communication is enhanced when employees begin to understand and empathize with one another. During team building exercises, workers learn much more about their colleagues than was known before. When team members revert to the workplace setting, they tend to judge others less and engage in mutual activities. By becoming empathetic, workers overcome communication barriers that hinder effective performance.

They participate more actively.

Firms organize fun activities to encourage participation, which in turn promotes communication among team members. The more a team member participates, the more he or she communicates. Enhanced communication skills in teams help to break down walls of misunderstanding and division. As workers begin to contribute their ideas, the group becomes productive and achieves its objectives.

They acquire public speaking skills.

When employees venture outdoors or to environments that they are not used to for fun and interaction, they tend to open up and communicate with more confidence compared to when they are holed up in organizational premises. This promotes public speaking skills especially as they participate in common activities and make presentations. Oratory skills can greatly boost the performance of organizations particularly in the entertainment, training, consultancy and service industries.

They improve their negotiation skills.

Creative activities for small groups help participants to become better negotiators. This is a skill that is needed in every organization, particularly due to inevitable conflict and the need to share resources. As they interrelate and play exciting games and also engage in mentally challenging tasks, team members begin to realize their interdependence and the need to negotiate with the other party, which is crucial in improving team communication.

They become better non-verbal communicators.

Research and experience have shown that non-verbal communication bears more meaning than oral and written communication. Bringing workers together in a free setting where they share and intermingle helps them to utilize their nonverbal communication capabilities. They learn to decode the facial and body languages of their colleagues and this knowledge comes in handy when they return to the workplace.

Not Your Father’s Team Building Experience

Everyone remembers the Buick commercial that said, “This isn’t your fathers Buick.” Well, I am paraphrasing, but today’s team building is more experiential, hands-on, fulfilling, a take-away feeling, and educational. All of these descriptors of today’s executive or employee team building cannot be realized unless everyone starts from an equal starting point.

So, I want to explore some unique experiences that can come from a Wine Country team building meeting. These will give everyone an equal footing to start the experience. Of course there are the traditional venues such as: golf outing and activities held in the hotel meeting room.

Experiential team building is a personal breakthrough moment that helps your relationships within a team. Let’s look at an example: How many times have we heard someone say they are tired of the same-old-same old thing? Or, remember those line drawing sketches in team building exercises when the facilitator asks who sees an old lady and who sees the young lady in a drawing? Point being, not all team building must be group interaction; sometimes it can be a group accomplishment through individuals’ tasks.

Let me present some experiential team building exercises that are out of the ordinary.

Painting Exercise

One out-of-the-ordinary team building exercise can be “a painting task”! This is a dynamic way of pointing out the many ways to view things a person observes. Imagine for a moment, 6 individuals (team members) task with painting a landscape they see before them. With the help of a professional painter, they will see things never noticed as a novice: the colors, light, reflections, and details unnoticed before. This is a team building exercise that will show members of the team they need to look at tasks with more depth; look at situations as a whole and not superficially. It would be expected that people undertaking this task would be more analytical in their interpersonal skills. Said another way; what you see at first, relative to a business task or practice, may not lead to a proper conclusion. A professional painter can direct the participants to realize this.

Thinking outside the box requires a large dose of creativity. Team building, through an art exercise, will focus managers on the value of creativity and how to reacquire it. “The muscle of creativity stops functioning at a high level at about age 10, when the left brain comes on strong and leaves the right brain in the dust, says Kay Carlson a Napa artist. Remember, Tony Bennett took up painting at age 60 and credits that with causing his creative juices to flow.

Barrel Making-Cooperage

An old profession that is alive and well today is barrel making. The genesis of this team building exercise is answering the question: Can 2 people make a wine barrel that will be water tight? Don’t say it is easy until you try it. In a real cooperage company one person builds the 60 gallon barrel singlehandedly. Even with a team of 2 intelligent executives it is nearly impossible.

The 2 person team starts with the 4 to 6 hoops, 36 staves, 2 barrel heads, and a mallet; all lying in a pile before them and then the fun begins. The ultimate goal is working together to construct a water tight barrel that is ready for delivery to a winery. This team building task is not about speed it is about achieving the goal-a water tight wine barrel. This must be achieved through co-ordination, task assignment, visualization and technique.

Panning for Gold

This is a team building exercise that is designed to focus on understanding a process and fitting the right people to the task. The process is about: planning, communicating, assessing skill sets, self development and having a willingness to tolerate exploration/stepping out. In the end, a team leader often knows what they are after but fail to effectively plan for finding it (whatever ‘it’ may be). Not knowing where the gold is, you must plan for finding it.

The guide/geologist is a great resource to get the exercise started. First the teams must get the knowledge from the geologist and combine that with the tools that are provided to get the task accomplished. A photographer will document the exercise for each participant.

Culinary Experience

With the help of Napa or Sonoma chef’s and souse chef’s teams will set about planning and pairing a meal course paired with a wine. The ingredients are provided according to plan and each of them prepare their part of a complete meal. The chef is there to provide assistance.

After the meal is prepared the chef’s assistants will serve the meal with the wine and everyone will experience the fruits of each teams efforts. The chef will critique the meal; from planning to completion and how each team worked together to bring it together.