Professional golfer Arnold Palmer once said, “Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated.” And golf isn’t even a team sport. Add a few more humans into the mix and so many factors—poor communication, clashing personalities, lack of trust, misunderstood goals—can lead to utter chaos. Studies show that these problems, and others, can undermine almost any team—whether it’s made up of powerful executives or other co-workers.
Like romance, there’s no way to force the magic. But we’ve been in the team-building business long enough to know how to tilt the odds in your favor.
1. Identify the Goal
What’s the objective? Is it to amplify a sense of teamwork throughout the organization, or is this an opportunity for an existing team to learn to work together better? There’s a difference and different ways to approach it.
2. Training Versus Team Building
Training and teambuilding are both important, but they’re different beasts. Overt instruction in transferable work skills is training. Situations that foster interaction by working toward shared goals and incorporating fun are the essence of good team building.
3. It’s a Business Expense
Team building isn’t a gift to employees or a special extravagance. Tally it as part of doing business. Employee retention, company culture, and engaged and productive teams are worth an investment.
4. Go Offsite
Memorable events rarely have anything to do with another day at the office.
5. Seek Experiences
Experiences are the key to happiness. And research shows that happy employees work more effectively, creatively and collaboratively.
6. But Not Just Any Experiences
Going to comedy clubs, attending baseball games or concerts and listening to poetry readings are spectator events. They’re easy to participate in without much interaction. Instead, look for interactive experiences that level the playing field for everyone. Ideally, seek situations where everyone is stretched a little beyond the comfort zone.
7. Once a Year Isn’t Enough
Why do so many couples in long-term relationships schedule regular date nights? Hmmmm…
8. Hire the Experts
Outsource to get the most innovative, fun and powerful experience possible. As we mentioned earlier, it’s a business expense.
9. If it Ain’t Broke
If an outside facilitator provided an outstanding experience, work with them again. Finding something new, just for the sake of novelty, is risky and time consuming. Most team-building experts offer plenty of variety and can accommodate return customers.
Was there laughter? High fives? A sense of accomplishment? Did employees rate it as a worthwhile experience? And did some of that vibe follow everyone back to the office? If so, that was successful team building.