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By: Akeel Osman

It’s no secret that with the fast business climate of today’s world, organizations are asking more of their employees than ever before.

Teams are typically working under a lot of pressure and in times like that “fun” at work can seem to be a forgotten word. So what can be done to alleviate the stress and inject some fun and positivity back into the workplace? For a Fortune 500 company, who are used to investing in experiential learning, it would be time to pick up the phone and call a reliable team building company.

However, the phrase ‘team building’ can sometimes evoke a sense of resistance in employees, as it can conjure up ideas of being forced to interact with others; awkward moments during trust falls or tolerating boring, inexperienced facilitators. However, when conducted professionally, team building is an important aspect of managing employees and fostering happiness and positivity within organizations.

While every business may not have the same kind of budget as the likes of Facebook or Yahoo, if you haven’t organized a team building for your company - or a year or more has elapsed since the last one - it’s definitely time to dig into your budget, as investing in people always pays off.

Relationships can go cold if not maintained and bonding with each other needs to be consistent, so it is important to keep the momentum going with regular events. The key to promoting any kind of behavior is consistency. That’s just one of the most basic psychological principles of the human mind. The more we do something we like, the more our brains get used to doing it, and the more we expect it. Not only will your employees establish stronger bonds with each other, but they will also feel empowered and rewarded - the kind of feelings that every company desires and requires.

Often companies will organize social gatherings and call that team building! And although a good afternoon or evening out together does have its place on the “getting to know you” agenda and employees appreciate a lunch or dinner out together, it doesn’t challenge a team to learn and grow together or allow them to experience how much can be achieved when everyone decides to work together towards a common goal.

Team building activities can be tailored to suit one particular purpose, or may encompass several. For example, activities where colleagues must interact with each other in order to achieve a certain goal would help to improve communication and problem-solving skills. And, in a big company, it can be easy to go weeks or months without talking to someone who sits in the same department, just because they aren’t working on the same project as each other. Therefore, team-building days can also be a great way of getting colleagues to strengthen cross-departmental ties.

How To Define Your Team-Building Objectives

When considering a team building program, think about your most valuable outcomes and the take-aways you wish to enjoy back at the work place. There are virtually hundreds of team challenges and activities on the market that provide various outcomes, so to make a team-building activity effective and to develop some clear goals for what you want to achieve, you must identify the challenges the team faces and the areas of the group dynamics that require work.

It is important to employ a company with facilitators who have sufficient knowledge and experience as participants have to be kept fully engaged. Facilitators need to bring a sense of energy and passion and include activities that have an element of entertainment, as these are more likely to provide an opportunity for the underlying needs and objectives of the team building to be introduced via interactive activities.

Each business and team is different, and if you are going to invest your time and money on something worthwhile, remember the importance of the current situation of your team or business and then define your event objectives from there. Only then can you determine what is right for you, as one size does not fit all, and cookie-cutter, off-the-shelf programs will not have the same powerful impact.

Team-building consultants caution against choosing activities that are highly competitive, as these can bring out the worst in some teams and may work against your objectives. Also bear in mind that you want all personality types to be able to join in comfortably, from the shy to the gregarious.

So, if you choose a team building exercise that involves going outside the team’s comfort zone, make sure that everyone is meaningfully involved without inducing stress. Successful team building can translate into success for everyone in the workplace and it does not require anyone to do anything extraordinary.

The Following Questions Will Help To Highlight Areas Of Your Team That Require Development:

• What challenges contribute to our biggest mistakes?

• Do people communicate openly with one another?

• Are staff members focused on individual achievement or shared success?

• Is morale good?

• Do people feel appreciated?

• What stands in the way of collaborating and working well together?

The positive effects of team building

Team building plays a significant role in getting the most from team members. According to Hay Group, motivated, positive employees engage better with their work and the vamped up positivity can increase productivity by as much as 43%. Additionally, the National Training Laboratories found that employees retain 75% of what they do, compared to just 5% of what they hear, which is why experiential team building is more effective than old style classroom training programs.

How To Derive Long-Term Gains from Team-Building

Remember that the lessons from your team-building activity need to be reinforced and put to use when you are back to business as usual. Make a plan for reminding people and recapping the takeaways back at the office. Learning has to be part of the culture, and a single team-building exercise isn’t going to be enough to sustain change or create a new corporate culture. Some companies view it as an activity: “Today we’re going to do team building. Afterward our team will be built and we can increase output by 10 percent!” Wrong! The secret to team building is that it’s not a set of activities, it’s a process and needs regular events to keep up the momentum and make for lasting positive changes.

As the popular saying goes,

“Teamwork is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”
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