The terms “team building” and “ice breaker” are enough to strike fear into the hearts of employees everywhere. These activities are usually awkward and embarrassing while putting everyone on the spot. Frankly, the only bonding employees are going to do is over how much they hate team building. These exercises weren’t fun in summer camp when you were eight years old and they’re not fun now.
Well, we do, actually. Managers are expected to help (or force) their employees to engage with each other. Sometimes it’s actually in a manager’s job description to hold a certain number of team building meetings a year. Other times, they simply want their employees to feel united and to ultimately feel more connected to their job. What’s the answer, then? Coming up with team building activities that aren’t lame but are actually fun and useful.
Who doesn’t love a good ol’ fashioned field trip? Team building doesn’t always have to involve a script or a laid out plan. The best way to get employees to interact with each other is to put them in a setting that encourages conversation and then just letting them do the rest on their own. Incorporate food and prizes and the day will end with everyone loving their job more than they did a few hours earlier.
Philanthropy propagates bonding. Have your employees volunteer during the holidays or for local organizations year-round. See if any fundraising events are coming up. Special fundraisers are usually just as fun to participate in as they are helpful because there’s live music, radio stations and giveaways. Have employees weigh in about what type of charity they’d like to volunteer for and choose the majority vote. Can’t take a day away from the office? Have everyone collect food or gifts for families in need or put together care packages for troops overseas.
Yes, you read that right – the same “Show and Tell” that you remember from first grade. What place does this childhood game have in a professional workplace? First, it takes off the on-the-spot pressure that so many other team building activities have. Sure, everyone has to get up and speak in front of a group, but they have a night or two to prepare. Second, this activity opens up the lines of communication. Who knew your co-worker wrote for a national magazine on the side or that your boss is a closet Star Wars collector? You never know who you’re going to relate to until you offer a bit of yourself up on a silver platter.
A big problem that employees face is feeling disconnected from their job. If they don’t feel like they’re making a difference, there’s not a whole lot of incentive to come into work every day, on time, and get everything on their desk completed. Hiring a motivational speaker can help your employees feel that what they do does matter and that your company is better for having them. Finding the right speaker isn’t easy, though.
Your employees need to be inspired and motivated without feeling like they should quit their job to backpack through Europe for the next three years. The CEO of your company is a good option because they can talk about success while relating it directly to the company. You might also tap other senior members of the team, business partners, vendors or even clients who’ve had great success working in and around the company. Some random speaker can’t provide the kind of real world value that an actual stakeholder who knows first hand how important your company really is.
People need to feel like they matter, and that their roles at the company matter, too. Achieve those things and your team building efforts will prove a huge success.
Sameer Bhatia is the founder of ProProfs.com, which provides the popular software to create online survey.
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