Team-building activities can range from having a few drinks with co-workers after work to an office get-together at your local putt-putt course. No matter the activity, finding the perfect fit for your team is crucial to creating a workplace full of effective teams. Since each team is made up of a diverse group of people, what works for one may not be for all of the other teams. The best way to encourage team participation is through trial and error.
Here are some team-building activities that have been effective in some companies. It’s important to engage team members and evaluate the results, so you know if you’ve hit the mark.
Provide job shadowing opportunities for employees in a different department. To foster team-building between departments, try cross-department job shadowing. The marketing department can host a few employees from the finance department, and product development can host some from public relations. Seeing a different department will help staff members gain a better understanding of how each part of the company works. It will also be an opportunity for a free exchange of ideas and will give participants a better sense of pride in the internal operations of the company.
Hold company-sponsored lunches. Who doesn’t love a free lunch? Free lunches not only improve workplace moral but will give employees a chance to interact and mingle with other members of your organization outside of their current work teams. There is something about sharing a meal together that encourages employees to talk and get to know each other.
Have employees volunteer together. See if a local charity organization can use some help from your employees. You could institute a regular charity day when all employees go to work at a local soup kitchen, for example, or set up more of an ongoing project where specific teams or individual employees can take time out of their workday on a regular basis. This raises the company’s image in the community as well as building team connections.
Get fit together. Plan an employee health initiative. A company-wide walking or other fitness plan has important health benefits. Give everyone pedometers and let them track they’re walking each day for a month. Encourage group walks during lunch breaks. And a little in-house competition never hurts. Alternatively, instituting a company softball team – either a once-a-year activity at a summer barbeque or a regular weekly event, is sure to encourage bonds.
The only way to successfully evaluate team-building activities is to directly survey those who have participated. Not only will this give you a benchmark as to how well your activities went over, but the results, if positive, will show within the next few weeks. You can also solicit participants for more ideas on team-building activities.
Each team-building activity should fit into the bigger picture of developing a vision for your business and asking staff members to contribute to that. You want each employee to feel that he or she is a valid and important part of your organization as a whole. Then, they’ll be more willing to invest the time in various team-building activities. Workplace culture can be hard to change, so you may have to try a few different approaches to allow small changes in the culture. But these things build on each other, and each step adds up to developing the kinds of bonds that will help the company grow.