As Dan Scalco from Digitalux points out in an article on Inc.com creating a strong bond between team members can be tough as they spend most of their time together working.
“Team outings can be a great way to enable bonding among your team members or employees, reduce their stress levels and just give them the opportunity to learn about each other,” he suggests.
Yet the importance of creating a workplace where employees are fully engaged is underlined by volumes of research showing a direct link between employee engagement and productivity.
Of courses there are some serious science-backed ways to increase productivity – but that doesn’t mean you can’t also have a bit of fun.
A little science
Here are some of the takeaways from Yale SOM’s new core course, Global Virtual Teams, which debuted in mid-January.
Yale University’s course on managing virtual teams provided some key takeaways about how to build a strong collective and provided some insight into what team building needs to accomplish in the first place. In the course team leaders are guided to implement principles to make their teams stronger. These are building a collective identity by establishing trust by creating a shared, singular vision. Accept vulnerabilities – to be part of a team will mean surrendering some control to focus on the group outcome. Focus on building consensus by sharing information. Don’t make assumptions. Communicate well.
Keep these in mind to create a team building exercise – and it will be so much more than just a day of fun and instead allow you to evaluate your team’s “team intelligence” and maybe teach them a thing or two.
In a world where many of your team members have probably perfected the eye roll, it might be worth thinking out of the box and not just re-hash your old playbook of team building activities.
In their blog on original “team building activities”, Emily Bonnie provides some useful suggestions.
Based on the “Escape Room” concept, you can do this by creating a few puzzles or clues and then gather the team into a conference room. Brief a team member beforehand to play “the zombie” who will be tied to a chair in one corner of the room. Once the team exercise starts, every five minutes the rope restraining the hungry zombie is let out another foot. Team members are required to solve a series of puzzles or clues that will allow them to escape before the zombie is set free.
Bonnie suggests that to improve communication skills among team members to play “back to back drawing”. Split the group into pairs and have them sit with their backs to one another. Give one person a picture and the other a piece of paper or a pen. The one holding the picture must give instructions to the partner on how to draw the shape or image without telling them what it is. After a set amount of time compare the two images and the team who were the most accurate wins.
Bonnie also suggests a community service-related team building exercise – doing something in the community for example a beach clean-up. The project should reflect the company values.
Scalco agrees saying that this is a surprisingly excellent way for teams to bond. “Team building activities don’t need to only benefit your team. In fact, they’re even more effective if they benefit your team and others. Volunteering is a great way to do this,” he writes in an article on Inc.com
Whose Office Is It, Anyway?
She also suggests a fun activity to test how observant team members are and to provide a chance for remote teams to get to know one another better. She suggests having everyone send in pictures of their office – whether at the workplace or at home and then have team members guess whose office belongs to who.
Amber Lowry from Syssero also suggests on a post for the Young Entrepreneurs Council published by Forbes that using and sharing a Myers-Briggs Type test for colleagues can be great way to get to know one another better.
Scalco from Digtalux also share some of his suggestions for unconventional team building activities with Inc.com
Take your team to the museum, like a school trip – only this wouldn’t be a typical museum tour. Create community-building activities like “scavenger hunts, Q&A sessions, icebreakers, parties and more. Instead of trying to cram loads of information into one tour, the Museum Hack guides take you through various wings where they’ll share immersive stories about the art, encourage your team to play games and make the museum experience enjoyable for everyone,” he suggests.
If you are looking for another arty suggestion Inspire Me hosts Accapella Voice workshops creating an environment where teams can be supportive and open and learn to sing.