If you’ve ever felt like your team was similar to a group of cats, running in all different directions at once, and with different ideas of how to do things, then you know how hard it can be to encourage teamwork. As humans, our independence is an incredible asset in many areas of life. However, there are some things we simply can’t accomplish alone, and we are capable of combining our talents to create amazing teamwork—sometimes. As a leader or manager, if you’ve ever struggled with a team that doesn’t mesh, then you may feel like you’re out of ideas for encouraging teamwork. You may have done everything right—promoting a shared vision, leveraging different team members’ talents, empowering your team—but nothing is working. Sometimes, it’s not your fault, but you shouldn’t give up. It’s time to get creative instead. Here are 5 creative team-building strategies that could help that resistant team finally work together.
- Teach Everyone to Listen—Summer Camp Style
Do your meetings devolve into arguments about whose approach is best for the same goal? Go with some classic summer camp tactics for your next meeting and bring in a symbolic item to encourage better listening. Remember the Talking Stick? Try the Talking Keyboard or the Talking Highlighter. Teams that work well together are made up of good listeners, and sometimes, people aren’t aware of how much they’re talking vs. how much they’re listening. Bring in the Talking Highlighter, and give your team turns with it—don’t let everyone hog the spotlight. Over time, people might start to listen more than they speak.
- Have a Group Lunch Regularly
How many of your team members eat lunch at their desks on an everyday basis? While you might think that’s just an honorable attempt to get more work done, it might actually be isolating people from socializing, getting to know one another, and building the bonds that make for strong teams. Why not set up a group lunch once a week? You can either have it catered, or invite everyone to bring their lunch and just talk with one another. They’ll have the rest of the week to eat in their cubes—bring them together at a specific time to eat, chat, and enhance teamwork.
- Put Together a Fictional Problem
Have you ever heard of the game Escape the Room? Everyone has to work together to solve the puzzle that will allow them to get out of the room as a group. It’s become very popular with offices, since it’s a fun way to get out of the office and team build. Even if you don’t have the budget for Escape the Room, you can create your own problems for the team to solve with just a few pieces of paper. Everyone writes down an idea, passes their paper, and builds upon the idea to continue working toward a solution. At the end, everyone can see how much their teammates have contributed, as well as their own contributions.
- Create a Process for Ideas
If everyone is starting to fall into groupthink (or conversely, arguing about every idea), it may be time for leaders to adapt by establishing a new vetting process for ideas. Have a rule in meetings: everyone writes down both a positive and constructive comments for each idea presented. With this method, it’s also important to have everyone contribute an idea regularly, since some people are more prone to speak up on their own, while others need more encouragement.
- Leverage Technology
Have you ever thought about using VR to create a stronger team? If you can find it in the budget to invest in a VR smartphone headset for the office, some games are highly cooperative. For example, one VR game involves the person wearing the headset to defuse a virtual bomb at the instructions of other team members. These games are fun and help teach teams how to work together to achieve a goal. VR’s role is increasing in many different industries, from helping football players train to treating PTSD. Why not in your office?
Sharing Goals, Sharing Rewards
Some of these team-building approaches may seem strange or unnecessary to your team, but if the traditional methods for encouraging teamwork aren’t working, you may need to introduce the unexpected to get everyone to step back and think about their role. Even though you may be taking a creative approach to teamwork, don’t forget the basics. Remember, a shared goal is absolutely key for keeping everyone on the same page and motivated to succeed. Inspire your team to create that shared vision, and you’ll be well on your way to dynamic growth and team harmony.