I recently asked a friend (who happens to be pretty high up within a large global investment bank) how he does team building at work. He said he hosts regular strategic offsites but he doesn’t do team building per se. Wow! This person is someone who has gone places in terms of his career. He’s someone who is paid top dollar and who others might aspire to be like. So how could he not do team building? Does he somehow expect his super-dooper people to be so amazing that they’ll just magically be a high performing team?
In the last 30 years, I’ve seen first-hand the importance people make to each other’s lives. If you really know and like your boss (and your colleagues) then you are so much more likely to go the extra mile for them. Many people leave their job simply because they have a “difficult” boss or cannot make headway with the team they’re in – even when they like the job itself. Usually it’s people who make or break our enjoyment at work – not the work itself. And it’s through people that we get trust, loyalty, empathy and a desire to really contribute to the greater good.
Now don’t get me wrong here. Of course it’s important to have regular meetings where the strategic direction is discussed and agreed. And yes, it’s important that staff buy in to the leader’s decisions. But unless you spend time actually getting to know your boss and team properly, then work becomes a very transactional and unfulfilling place to be. Never more so than during a pandemic.
Why am I such a big believer in team building? Well, based on 30 years working for global banks and consultancies, here are just a few reasons:
- Communication – Team building leads to improved communication. We want friendly work environments where we are comfortable and happy to speak up about our progress, plans, concerns, and ideas. Understanding others better reduces the potential for silo thinking. And when we feel we can communicate openly with each other, we have the security and confidence needed to face new challenges alone.
- Innovation – When we are comfortable within our team, we bounce ideas off each other – becoming more imaginative, creative and successful. Workplace collaboration is key to pushing businesses forward.
- Networking – Team building encourages us to get to know each other better. Teams that socialise (even if it’s over zoom) have a higher morale and are more productive. And we get over conflicts quicker.
- Teamwork – Teams that complete team building activities understand each other’s strengths, weaknesses and interests – helping us work better together on future projects.
- Competition – Team building often breeds healthy competition which in turn leads to increased productivity.
- Celebration – Teams that celebrate success, that cheer each other on and have fun together are much more motivated to work hard.
And in my opinion the flip side is true too. When we don’t know our colleagues, it’s highly likely we’ll be more guarded, less likely to share ideas and become paranoid… it’s a vicious circle.
So, going back to my friend who doesn’t “do” team building… if you remember that conversation and you have worked out that I’m talking about you, then what I’ve written here represents all I wished I’d had the gumption to say at the time. Start paying attention to your team!
For help with reconnecting your team – particularly important after a long stint of working from home and / or furlough – do please reach out to Splash Projects. A Splash community project is an ideal way of reconnecting and helping your staff feel engaged and inspired. It also provides your organisation with the opportunity of supporting the vulnerable in your community who have suffered the most during the coronavirus crisis. We have invested substantial time to ensure our projects comply fully with Covid-19 guidelines, so you can be confident that your team will be safe. For more information, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to email@example.com.