Team building is more than just getting your employees to work together. How you team-build is just as important as to why. You can have your employees working together and in-line with your objectives, but they may not be working as a team.
The members of a team not only work together but they trust and rely on each other. They also have fun. The other thing that distinguishes a good team is they help each other freely. You can trust someone but you may not get help or offer help. To an extent, a real team is made up of people who consider one another friends.
One of my employers taught me a valuable lesson. They flew everyone in our group out to a retreat in Sedona AZ for a “team-building exercise” week. There were motivational talks and trust and team building games. Everyone had a great time. It failed.
The lesson learned is you can’t force or indoctrinate a group of people to act as a team.
On the other hand another of my employer’s did nothing about team building. We all just went out to lunch regularly, we would have impromptu softball games after work and we would have cookouts at one of the manager’s homes. Everyone had a great time and we developed a great team.
The lesson learned is you can create a team without spending a ton of money.
Here are five easy ways to build a team based on friendship.
1 – Have your employees interact across job roles.
Stove-piping a group as a team may be good for focus but it fails in the long term because it limits the vision and objectives of the group and isolates them from the rest of the company. Social get togethers (games, lunches, etc.) help to break down these barriers and promote cohesiveness.
2 – Employees should host their own events
In addition to you or your company sponsoring an event, employees should be encouraged to do so as well Allowing your employees to have ownership of their activities is more effective than staged cheer-leading events such as the one I mentioned in Sedona. Employees want control, not to be controlled.
3 – Spouses, significant others, and their children are always welcome.
Employees have family responsibilities. Not being able to share it fun events with the important people in their lives can cause them not to attend. Not being able to bring a spouse can lead to stress and issues at home which in turn will come back to affect the job. By including spouses and children you also build the sense of community and family.
4 – Break down in-job cliques
Groups of like-minded people will tend to self-assemble. This is fine but it should not affect the morale of other employees or the company as a whole. Inclusion should be promoted, not exclusion. Inclusion will help build trust and break down barriers. It’s fine to have a “girl’s night out” or a golf outing for the guys, but this should not be the norm. If cliques and exclusive events become an issue for morale you will need to take action.
5 – Interact with your own employees
If you’re a manager or owner, you should never isolate yourself from your employees through layers upon layers of “management” or just because you’re a “manager”. Host your own events, and make sure you attend some of the employee sponsored ones. Let your employees see you and interact with you outside the manager/employee roles. You both may learn something.
The bottom line is one of morale-boosting and interaction as you build a team. Morale is more than just knowing you have a good job and are doing it well. A good team works and plays together in order to reduce the stress that gets built up as part of any job.