High fliers and successful business people don’t magically arrive at the top of the corporate ladder, there’s a lot of determination, effort and natural talent that helps them on their way. Those marked out for a career in business are often assessed for a range of skills in a number of areas. One of the key influencing elements when looking at new candidates is their ability to assimilate well into a team. Modern business minds place great value on team players that contribute positively to the group dynamic and such traits are increasingly nurtured for a number of sound business reasons:
A happy workplace is a productive workplace
It doesn’t take a genius to work out that happy workers get more done. Employees who feel valued in their work, empowered, supported and listened to, are far more likely to want to stick around. Feeling part of a team instills confidence and helps motivate employees in working towards common goals. Businesses where employee satisfaction rates are high, unsurprisingly have stellar retention rates. Other valuable benefits of a happy working environment include low absenteeism, good morale, high quality work and increased productivity levels.
So, what are the magic ingredients for a smooth running and happy office? Every working environment boasts a selection of staff with unique strengths and weaknesses, differing personalities and complementary traits – and the key is to get them all working together as one, perfect team. It is well documented that workers who feel a sense of isolation in the workplace, who feel that the success or failure of certain projects is ultimately down to them, are more stressed and less productive, compared to their counterparts who spread job responsibilities over a team. Achieving the right balance between a shared responsibility and individual accountability is never going to be easy, but some businesses leaders can and do manage to optimize the talents of their staff with effective teambuilding techniques.
Teambuilding as a business philosophy to improve performance has been around for some time. Teambuilding exercises are often carried out away from business premises, on neutral territory. Improved communications amongst work colleagues can be encouraged via a range of activities such as simple bonding exercises to more complex, in-depth scenarios where simulations of events are worked through, with the aim of bringing staff together to solve problems, clear obstacles and achieve success ultimately for their team in challenging situations. Such scenarios are believed to help improve negotiation and mediation skills, build trust, improve accountability and help cement bonds between employees who perhaps don’t ordinarily ‘gel.’
With the evolution of digital communications, team members sometimes never actually meet in person. Being able to hook-up and meet face to face with colleagues, rather than via email or Skype, gives invaluable opportunities for bonding as well as knowledge sharing and brainstorming.
Some teambuilding exercises focus on difficult scenarios where teams have to resolve problems with events changing every five minutes. This can be stressful and challenging, but working together within a team to beat the problems can be an overwhelmingly positive experience that throws up unexpected leaders and highlights strengths in others that had so far been hidden. For improvements in decision making, problem solving, trust building, leadership, adaptability and communications, the best teambuilding strategies address the issues indirectly in a neutral, non-judgmental atmosphere.
How being a team player helps the individual
Employees who nurture their inner team player often find their career path smoothed in a number of ways. Good interpersonal skills, generosity with ideas, a supportive attitude and an open mind are all attributes a team player should develop if they want to progress up the corporate ladder. Team players are seen as valuable assets in the workplace and recruitment professionals are hard-wired to identify such traits – so be warned, everything from a handshake to the way a presentation is handled is going to be scrutinized in terms of how it plays to the team culture.
The different teambuilding approaches
There are many different techniques for teambuilding through experiential challenges and activities. From weeklong survival expeditions in the wilderness, company paint-balling wars to staged murder mystery solving events in country mansions; they all have the sole aim of pulling individuals together into a tightly knit, super-efficient team. Exercises need to be tailored to the particular demands of the group – for example, if managers have identified training needs in the areas of communication within a team, an exercise focusing on this can be used.
Ideas for teambuilding bonanzas
Some companies head for a weekend at Disney Land, a corporate away day at the races or a relaxed spot of bonding over bowling. For breaking down barriers and loosening people up, a great day out on a fun activity takes some beating. Team building activity ideas including major sporting events, musical spectaculars and other exciting experiences aimed at putting the enjoyment back into life are a great option.
Sometimes the best way to get together and have the conversations that really matter is to get away from urban surroundings. Buckwater Regional Park has a good hiking trail that makes walkers feel as if they’re out in the middle of nowhere but can bring them back within a convenient timespan to places where they can relax and talk. It’s a good place to share memories of time spent in the great outdoors in youth, helping team members to get an idea of one another’s backgrounds and, ideally, find points of commonality.
Other employers have great success in pitting inter-departmental teams against each other in competitions. Whether it’s competition focused out of the workplace such as running marathons, quiz nights, choirs or bake-offs, such programs are known to sharpen up competitive edges and solidify team bonds equally.
As well as providing an opportunity for team bonding, corporate outings can be a great time to do a bit of brainstorming and bounce ideas around within the team. When everyone is having fun and feeling energized, it’s easier to get the creative juices flowing. Escaping the formal work environment can reveal unexpected talents in the business team.
Activities such as golf, for example are great opportunities to get away as a team. The gentle pace, the tranquil atmosphere and the opportunity to meet other business people with the same interests makes it ideal for networking. One to one or small group discussions can be held on the course and there’s room for larger gatherings in the clubhouse.
Places such as Bluffton, Indiana, are blessed with a surfeit of great golf courses, from Arnold Palmer-designed Crescent Pointe with its complex challenges, to the entertaining quirkiness of Eagle’s Pointe and the stunning Hilton Head National designed by Gary Player. Made to order corporate golfing package stays can be arranged with Bluffton hotels and handing out well-stocked swag bags at golf outings is a great way to keep memories of the outing fresh.
What a winning team means for business
Team building directly benefits companies in a number of ways, some tangible, others harder to pinpoint. Most recognize that a re-energized workforce with renewed enthusiasm for projects is the most frequently reported result of team building efforts. Whether this positive energy flows out to increased sales and productivity, improved customer relationships or ground breaking new ideas, it doesn’t matter – it’s all good. Sometimes employers choose to celebrate success with teambuilding events, believing that reinforcing the culture that is helping them win in business is worth the investment in time and money.
The importance or not of team building in the workplace isn’t really up for debate here. It’s proven that collaboration, good communications, positive sharing and supportive attitudes help go a long way in securing harmonious team relations and in turn, better company figures. Whether it’s a small company with a few staff, or an international conglomerate, the value of effective teambuilding and it’s magical effect on performance is something to marvel at…