The Team Building Exercise

Unfortunately, many employees tend to denigrate the idea of the team building exercise. You have probably seen this happen when your manager announces a weekend or an evening where the employees will be together as a group.

Inevitably, someone within the group will start to complain about the uselessness and the annoyance of having to attend this type of exercise. In this article, we will take a look at ways to make sure that the team building exercise works for you.

Old Hat

The first thing you and your co-workers need to realize is that despite the fact that they have gained a lot of attention over the past decade or so, group building activities are really nothing new.

They have been around for a long time; they have just taken on ridiculous dimensions in today’s work environment. For example, Christmas parties and other social gatherings for members of the work place are all forms of team building, they just aren’t touted as such by management.

Why Team Building?

The reason why offices and companies tend to hold different types of team building exercises is because, quite frankly, they do work.

They may seem silly or even counter productive to employees at the time, but once everyone starts to get involved they can actually become quite fun and there really will be an opportunity to create a greater cohesiveness with your fellow workers.

Keys to Success

The key to a successful team building exercise is for the group as a whole to show some enthusiasm for the event.

There are lots of reasons for employees not to be enthusiastic about a team building exercise, but the truth is that standing in the way of its success may actually get you in trouble with management. Team building exercises don’t just help good workers stand out, they can also help managers identify potential trouble spots on their team.

Being the loudest complainer is certainly a good way to get yourself fingered during a team building exercise (unless, of course, you can come up with a way to make the exercise work better, but be really careful here you don’t want a manager to think you have upstaged him or her!).

It might be that the team building exercise held by your company really is nothing to complain about. Really great ones may involve an activity that everyone truly enjoys and which goes off with no effort. However, even if this is not the case within your exercise, it really doesn’t hurt to go along and try to make the best of the situation.

Checklist for Trainer in Team-Building Exercises

1. Every participant is different, and every one of them has a different level of understanding and emotional condition when they begin the course. Research your audience, for example you want to use a certain element in an exercise but you may discover that one participant has a phobia for that particular element. Be prepared before encountering these awkward situations. Don’t base your research only on age; you may be surprised by the results.

2. Always buy more resources than planned. You can never know what part of your logistics may fail you, what material may break before or during or the way the participants will handle the resources.

3. Adapt your teaching style and the learning styles of the participants. Remember everyone is different and understands things in a certain way. People may react differently in different contexts.

4. Timing is essential. Offer time for discussions, recreation and the unexpected. Don’t group together too many physical exercises. The best proportion for a team-building program includes: 33% physical exercises, 33% experiential learning and 33% discussion and traditional exercises.

5. The scope of a team-building is to reach certain objectives. Remember them when choosing an activity. Don’t choose an exercise because it is funny or popular but because it covers a need of a team or reaches an objective of the team-building.

6. Allocate sufficient time for the team-building. A well prepared training can take from 2 to 5 days. If the time allowed is less than half a day then it beats the point of the entire team-building.

7. BANG at the beginning and end. Start the team-building with well-prepared icebreakers that will set the mood for the course and allow people to relax and fin a comfort zone. At the end of the sessions, inspire and motivate them to set in action the lessons learned during the course of the activities.

8. Make a logistics list, prepare your material ahead of time, double-check them and learn to use materials that you haven’t worked before.

9. Debrief after each exercise and ask participants to make notes of their conclusions in a Learning Log.

10. Never presume that everyone will be able or accept to do a certain task, especially if it implies a risky activity. Prepare sub-task, which a person can handle.

11. Everyone is equal during a team-building, therefore do not allow participants put pressure or hassle other participants. Often, people in management positions give orders just because of their position outside the game. Do not hesitate to remind everyone this is a group activity, where everyone has the same position.

Office Team Building Exercises

There are many different kinds of office team building exercises that can be used to help improve your company’s internal communications, morale, trust, and cohesiveness. Team building exercises are undertaken in a spirit of fun, but also play an important role in strengthening your ability to function as a unit.

Team building exercises can be used occasionally, such as to augment your annual general meeting, or on a more regular basis to help maintain productivity. They can also be used as a form of crisis management, such as to help address fears during a period of change, or as a response to a need for radical restructuring in order to meet the challenge of a new competitor, for example. Team building is useful for introducing new employees, strengthening ties between existing staff, or as a fun way to bring together individuals who don’t often interact.

Having your team members work together in any endeavor that takes them out of the ordinary office realm can be an interesting exercise in communication and cooperation. To facilitate this, consultants often organize activities that use arts, sports, games, or any structured form of interacting that requires teamwork. In some cases this creates a visible, or otherwise tangible example of what you can accomplish together – such as each person playing a percussion instrument that all together creates a piece of music; linking arms to create a chain that demonstrates the importance of each individual link, and so on. In other cases, the activity requires brainstorming and the combined effort of all to solve a problem.

The dual purpose of having fun and learning together makes for a day that is relaxing and enjoyable in itself, as well as providing lasting results as you develop your skills as a team. A large amount of research has gone into the development of specialized programs, books and services that can help your company achieve its productivity goals and improve employee relations. The wide variety of creative solutions offered includes everything from cooking together, to outdoor adventures, scavenger hunts to simulations of extreme sports… Take some time to explore the possibilities and find new ways to enhance your office environment.

Browsing the websites of consultants is a good place to start to find some fun ideas you can implement yourself, or with the help of a professional. Most programs are designed for maximum flexibility and can be tailored to meet the needs of almost any group, large or small. Incorporate some creative team building into your next boardroom meeting, or be extra adventurous and arrange for some outdoor activity. The return on investment is not something to take lightly. The benefits of maintaining an enjoyable work atmosphere includes improved mental and physical health, higher productivity, and more. Find out what the right team building exercises can do for you.