What exactly can a team building workshop achieve? In the most ideal of situations – can a group of people who don’t really feel like a team, go back from the program feeling bonded like buddies?
The answer is a categorical NO. The biggest paradigm that you need to understand is that “Team building” is not an “activity”. It is a “process”. Hence depending on where the team currently is in its state of development in the Tuckman model, an ideal team building program can ensure that it moves along further ahead towards becoming a performing team.
Most importantly, what a good team building program can do, is to get everyone thinking together in the direction of becoming a better team – and also, improve the “atmosphere” within the team.
So, when you are planning to embark on a Team building effort, set your targets realistically. What you are really aiming for is: To help people get along better and get more done.
Here are some practical ideas to help you get it started in your workplace:
1. No Team building effort can get going, unless you have the leadership team engaged. So, always start with the leadership team – before going down to their respective teams.
2. Very often we have seen, it helps not to brand the workshop as a “team building” workshop. That seems to suggest that they were waiting for someone from HR to actually come and teach them that they were a team. No Sir, does not work with adults. Rather call it a “Experiential workshop” or a “Fun workshop”… anything else, that does not get peoples guards up!!
3. This needs to be setup as an ongoing, regular event – once a week. It conveys the unsaid communication that – “This is important for us”
4. When it comes to adults, the methodology that’s been tried and tested to work best is the experiential methodology. Think of activities that are experiential in nature. Alternatively, you can find a Facilitator who understands this methodology and helps you design activities that you are comfortable running with your team.
5. Its important that you do not compromise insight in the name of energy. So, while it is important for the activities to be fun and engaging, also set up activities that help people build relationships and talk with each other on a deeper level.
6. An atmosphere of PLAY helps in building the much needed trust in such workshops. It needs to convey : “Its ok to not be serious, its just PLAY”.
7. Focus on people’s behaviors; try to get them to make the link between the way they PLAY and the way they work at office. Most often, the way people PLAY is the way they work at office. When the conversation flows, the insights and the laughs will come along naturally.
8. Do remember to stay away from competitive activities where someone “wins” and someone necessarily “loses”.
9. Promote behaviours that are kind and empathetic. Do ensure the team applauds every single “win”. Within caution and limits, if you can control it, ensure the members touch each other in non-threatening and non-intrusive ways. Be particularly sensitive to women.
10. Most importantly – do ensure everyone has a lot of fun. The team that laughs together, stays together !
The secret to effective team building is to set up an environment where people trust each other and feel comfortable interacting in any situation. There are no strict rules you have to follow, just remember that you’re trying to help people behave in meaningful ways.
What will you do to get started?