Tuesday, Greg and I as Dynamic Duo Events, had a chance to conduct a team building event for the Erie Chamber of Commerce.
What a blast.
Samantha, Patty, Jim, Adam, Barrie, Augie, and the crew were in fine form. We played some minute to win it games, brushed up on our trivia, and had a great conversation about company culture and creating happy, loyal customers. It was a good conversation because they shared the good ideas.
It's a treat to participant in meaningful conversation with entrepreneurs, business owners, employees, and managers about what creates a good working environment. After all, we spent a majority of our life there. We may as well enjoy it.
In fact, 71% of Millennials want their coworkers to be a second family(1) and #3 of the top 6 reasons why employees leave jobs is the working environment/culture(2). Turns out team building is good for strengthening bonds and the bottom line.
I admit, when I used to think about team building activities I thought of kitschy, forced activities designed to get you to 'see things from the other person's perspective,' 'learn to give and take,' and 'be a team player,' all of which loosely translated to 'let the other person have their way,' and implies that all people are reasonable.
In the last several years, however, I've experienced and produced team building events that aren't like what I pictured. When they work, team building events emphasize each individual using their strengths to benefit the whole, mutual respect, and having fun without a commandeered outcome (lots of team building events seem designed to make you reach a certain, pre-programmed outcome to make a point that may or may not be accurate).
When done right, team building events allow people to get a little outside of themselves, to have fun, and to engage at a different level. This may be ropes courses, outdoor excursions, or just some time away from the office in a relaxed setting. Whatever it is, when you plan your team building events, be sure to account for the fact that people don't mind getting outside their comfort zone if they know it's safe and fun.
Safe: It's OK to keep score and it's OK that not everyone gets a prize. But if someone participants and gets shamed for doing something poorly or answering a question incorrectly, they will not only shut down during the event but also back at the office. Reward all participation with acknowledgement and thanks. See that teams are inspired to work together within themselves, rather than compete internally.
Fun: Active without being strenuous. Get people out of their comfort zone, reward people for going above and beyond, and for heaven's sake, create some excitement with prizes, trophies, recognition, etc. When you keep score at a team building event, teams rally around each other trying their best to win. There's a different level of enjoyment and engagement as you strive toward a goal with people when you're having fun.