Getting your team out of the office for an activity-filled afternoon is fun and can help build interpersonal relationships, but managers seeking a positive impact on team dynamics need to include a few more elements to make the event a long-term success.
Team Building activities that make a lasting impression require value-added discussions about communication styles, conflict management techniques, collaboration tactics, or other group dynamics.
Team building is important because:
People quit teams when other members don’t have their back…and for small businesses, that often means people quit their jobs because of poor team dynamics
Most people enjoy collaborating with others, but in some work cultures asking for help can be seen as a sign of weakness…and in some workplaces, everyone is “too busy” to take the time to share their expertise with others
Most people avoid awkward conversations, so they will choose to suffer in silence and check-out when things get weird.
Spoiler Alert: taking your team out for drinks after work, or doing a fun activity together isn’t going to solve all of these problems.
Sure, offsite activities break the tension that exists between some team members and give everyone a chance to blow off steam, but in some of these scenarios no one is focusing on self-awareness or self-improvement, and sometimes people can use these activities as an opportunity to validate their pre-conceived notions of others.
For example, say your team goes on a team bonding outing to solve a puzzle as a group and one person talks over everyone else. Instead of helping that person learn how his behavior affects others, most people won’t say anything until later when they talk behind his back and say “that’s what he always does”. If this is the team’s leader, it’s almost guaranteed that no one will ever bring it up. They just get frustrated and resentful…and in extreme cases, eventually quit.
If the whole point of taking your team out for one of these excursions is just to get out of the office and have fun, go to a bar and have a good time. No need for puzzles!
On the other hand, the goal is to increase self-awareness, learn more about each other, and strengthen the team – then you need to handle things a little differently….and sometimes puzzles can actually help improve your team dynamics faster.
Here are 3 affordable ways to brush up on teamwork skills together before jumping into your next offsite team challenge activity:
1. Read a leadership book like The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, or a Harvard Business Review article about different communication styles, then share your opinions and talk about how what you learned is true or false for your team.
2. Take a personality assessment together and compare answers. We call these “assessment tools” and there are quite a few out there that have been scientifically tested to make sure they are valid. They can provide valuable insight on everything from how individuals communicate with each other, to how team members handle stress. Once all that is out in the open, team awareness increases and so does cooperation and collaboration. Watch how much better your team performs on puzzles after you know how to work together better.
3. Enlist the help of an impartial 3rd party to come in to lend a hand. Ask your HR manager to facilitate a discussion around team dynamics and share best practices about other high-performing teams within the organization. If you don’t have those resources internally, call an outside firm to help. There are lots of companies out there willing to help with team training.
At Groove Management, we take it a step further and integrate our team workshops with dozens of different team bonding activities so you get the best of both worlds. We focus on helping people identify their personal strengths and determine how they can work best together as a team to create the super-powered synergy required for next-level greatness.
A typical Groove Management Team Building Event starts with individual and team assessments, followed by an interactive dialogue about team dynamics and an offsite excursion like rafting, ice curling, biking, escape rooms, ropes courses, etc, and we close the day with a debrief discussing how team dynamics came to life during the activities and how these lessons translate back in the office. Everyone has fun that afternoon, but we make sure that the team develops self-awareness and strengthens internal relationships that they’ll last a lot longer.