Improving rapport among employees is a crucial component of any organization. After all, the workforce is made up of individuals with unique personalities and attitudes. There will always be room for misunderstanding, unhealthy competition, and divisiveness that affects the productivity of the entire enterprise.
Encouraging your employees to build bridges and form healthy professional relationships is part and parcel of managing a successful business. It all starts with engaging your employees and fostering an environment where collaboration matters more than competition.What better way to help your employees develop rapport than a well-organized team-building activity?
The Benefits of a Team-Building Activity
If you have had any experience working as a rank-and-file employee before, the word “team-building” might bring back memories of corporate events where everyone is forced to like each other, play games, and listen to the CEO give a pep talk about “synergy” and “a sense of togetherness.”
No matter how drab it might seem to you, a team-building activity develops familiarity. According to Team Building, team members who already know each other are bound to perform well. In fact, a 2006 Harvard study suggests that surgeons work better when they are surrounded with familiar colleagues as opposed to working with new personalities.
Another reason companies invest in team-building activities is the need to improve trust and clear communication. In an article for the Harvard Business Review by Center of Neuroeconomics Studies founding director Paul Zak, employees that build a strong bond are bound to produce better quality work and enhance profitability.
From this, organizations have the best of intentions to hold company picnics, conferences, and outings. But while we can never overlook the advantages that a team-building activity brings, employees may not end up realizing the value of teamwork. The problem is not the team-building activity itself, but it’s how you design it in a way that brings employees closer to each other.
5 Tips for Organizing a Team-Building Activity
A team-building activity offers numerous benefits to your organization, but attaining these benefits requires effective planning. You wouldn’t want to put your employees through it and expect immediate results. You want the activity to be enriching, inspiring, and engaging. Here are the top five tips you need to plan for the perfect activity that will pump collaborative fuel into your organization.
1. Start with the right objectives
You might be thinking of improving all aspects of your workforce but how certain are you of success in the long run? Targeting a broader end goal for your team-building activity only adds a layer of complication and creates uncertainty.
You need to remember that you are planning an activity just for the heck of it. For the most part, team-building is all about improving specific areas that have the potential to support your enterprise in the long run. Instead of focusing on the general idea of team-building, you should invest time and effort in sub-areas your business can benefit a lot from.
For this, you need to know the specific objectives you want the activity to be anchored on. Moreover, these objectives should align with the needs, structure and culture of your organization. If you have multiple departments with unique yet interlinking functions under your wing, you can come up with activities that improve interdepartmental communication. If skills improvement is your main goal, then consider an event where the focus is knowledge-sharing and mentorship.
Going back to the SMART principle, your plan for a team-building activity should target specific aspects that your organization can leverage. Success is better attained this way.
2. Come up with the right activities
After determining your specific objectives, you need to have a clear idea of the kinds of activities that align with your goals. Sure enough, this is where HR and employee engagement committees have the most difficulty.
How do you create a team-building activity that isn’t dull and cliche? The best way you can approach this question is to know what your employees want to do. Like it or not, it won’t help if you place corporate culture at the center of decision-making that’s focused on improving employee rapport. You will need to look beyond what the organization thinks is best and get ideas from your employees. If you think this isn’t possible, you can always look for games and activities that are interactive, fun and that are sure to boost trust and morale.
You want activities your employees can engage in and, at the same time, develop an eagerness to collaborate. Try thinking outside the box or at least adda new twist to current team-building games and activities.
3. Consider the venue
Where will the team-building activity take place? Obviously, you wouldn’t want it within or around office premises. Your employees need to feel that the activity isn’t part of official company time, so it’s always best to have it in a different location where it will be easy for them to concentrate on building rapport.
For this, you may want to pick a venue where your employees can feel comfortable and have the opportunity to understand each other in a more profound way. After all, it’s hard to build rapport with a co-worker if you only know each other in the context of the workplace.
Whether you are holding it out-of-town or on an island resort, the event should be held in a place that’s about the right size for all your participants. Moreover, you also need to know if the potential venue provides amenities and a relaxing atmosphere. Giving your employees the opportunity to loosen up together provides a sense of warmth and comfort.
Your choice of venue should also depend on the resources you currently have. So long as your budget permits it, you can scout for a venue that helps you make the most out of the program.
4. Give employees an incentive for long-term growth
Before you send out a memo announcing your team-building activity, it’s important to set certain expectations and clarify these with your employees.
Ask yourself what your employees will get out of joining the activity. Aside from handing out rewards such as discount vouchers or personal care products from manufacturers like Andalou Naturals, you will need to focus on delivering long-term value. In other words, you want your employees to see the personal and professional value that they can get from joining the activity. Encourage them to participate by coming up with challenges that can unlock their potential not only as team players but also as professionals.
5. Track the results
At the end of the day, team-building doesn’t just happen in a single period. In fact, it’s a commitment that your organization must maintain. The recent team-building activities you’ve had won’t be the last. If you are planning for another activity in the future, you can always learn about the successes or drawbacks of the previous activity and use them as a reference point for your next event.
Team-building shouldn’t be overlooked. Your organization should treat it as an investment for the future. After all, your success will depend heavily on how well your employees relate to one another and find value in what they do.