One of the most important factors in the workplace is making sure your team work well together. If staff members aren't able to work as a team, not only will the work they produce suffer, but it hardly makes for an ideal working environment.
One way to make sure that your staff are working together as well as possible is to hold regular team building training sessions. These can be a great, informal way to let your staff interact and see how working together will make the workplace a lot more fun and friendly. Sessions like this can also be particularly useful if you work in a large workplace, where people don't interact face-to-face on a regular basis, as this gives everyone time to get to know each other.
Deciding to hold workplace training sessions is only the first step though, as you'll also need to decide how you actually want to run the sessions. It's important to make sure that your training is actually teaching your staff something new, and not just being held for the sake of it. It can be tempting to plan something fun, like a day out paint-balling or something similar, but does this really work to encourage team building? Obviously you have to work as a team at the time, but will these skills translate and be taken back to the work place? Probably not!
Therefore, it's important to really think about the goals you want to achieve from running a training session and see how these can be achieved. By focussing on a particular concern you might want to improve within your own workplace, it should make it easier fo your to see the positive results!
We look at some of the most common problems in the workplace, which can be tackled quite easily in team building training sessions.
Problems in communication can be a huge issue in the workplace, especially if they are between people who regularly work together and collaborate on projects. Poor communication can slow down everyone's work, as well as creating a lot of tension within the team, so it's important to overcome this problem fairly quickly.
One very easy team building method, which helps work on communication, is getting team members to complete a task together, where each has a specific role. One person should be reading the instructions out, while the other team member is completing the task. There are several different ways you could complete this task:
- Drawing an object. One person is given a picture of an object, and has to describe how the other person should draw it.
- Building with Lego. One person has the instructions to build a small object out of Lego, and they have to instruct the other person how to do it and which pieces to use.
- Origami making. One person has the directions on how to fold a piece of paper to make a piece of origami, and they have to direct the other person on how to fold the paper to achieve the desired outcome.
All of these activities are quite easy to set up, but really stress the importance of effective communication. They should teach the person involved that it's important they are communicating in a way that everyone involved understands, not just themselves. This will become clear quite quickly, as poor instructions will lead to a poor drawing or constructed Lego house.
It also lets people see that communications should definitely be a two-way thing, and if instructions are unclear, it's important to ask for clarification. This ensures that the best work possible is being produced. Stressing the need for two-way communication also shows that staff shouldn't be playing the blame game, and the onus is on everyone involved to make sure effective communication is happening.
Does your workplace have trust issues? This could be because staff don't really know each other well enough to feel they can trust each other with important tasks, or it could be issues from a past project, where some staff feel someone let them down, and now have problems trusting them with work and deadlines.
Much like communication issues, this is a problem that needs to be dealt with right away. If staff don't trust each other, they may be unwilling to work with one another on projects, which could lead to slow and poor quality work, as well as a bad working environment.
A simple trust exercise is to arrange a sort of obstacle course for staff to be guided through, using simple things like chairs, notebooks, cones, or balls. This exercise is best done in a large room, or even outside if you are able. One person is blindfolded, while the other has the job of guiding them from one side of the course to the other. This works on trust, as the blindfolded staff member has to let the other person be their eyes, and get them to the other side of the course safely.
As with the communications exercises above, it also really stresses how important it is to think about how you are interacting with other people. You need to make your instructions clear for everyone involved, or the results won't be what you were aiming for.
Another aspect of a simple trust exercise like this is that it shows people they can't always do everything themselves and still get all the work done. If a team member has let someone down before, they may be tempted to keep most of the work for themselves, so they can make sure it is getting done. This could lead to them being overworked and producing low quality results, as well as the other member of staff feeling left out, which could create a bad relationship.
Focussing on trust and letting people work with you shows how important it is to work together as a team. Not only so the load is shared between the whole team, but also as it means that different people with different specialities can work collaboratively, and produce amazing work that might not be the result of someone working on it alone.
Even if you have staff members who really like and trust each other, they still might not be very good at working together when the time comes for a group project. This could be for several reasons, such as one person likes to take control of the group and others don't get to input, or perhaps they're so friendly they find it hard to concentrate on the task at hand instead of chatting. Obviously, team members who don't like each other will also have another set of obstacles to overcome if they're to work together to produce a piece of work.
One way to try and combat these problems is to run collaborative and problem solving team building activities. A simple task to show that you can't always do all the work yourself, and relying on other people is sometimes necessary is to give each person a jigsaw puzzle to complete. However, make sure to mix up some of the pieces with other people's puzzles, so an individual's puzzle is impossible to complete on their own.
Once people realise that they have some puzzle pieces that don't belong, instruct them that they may swap their pieces with other people in the group, but only one at a time. This means people will have to spend the time going around the other people in the group, talking about what their puzzle look likes and what pieces they need, as well as what extra pieces they have that other people may need.
This is a great way to demonstrate that people can only get so far when they work on their own, and a lot of time, being a team player is necessary so everyone can get the desired result. It also demonstrates how important it is to talk to every member of the team, and not just some of them, to make sure the task is getting completed.
The main thing to think about before you start planning a team building session is what areas you want to focus on. Maybe it's just one of the ones listed above, or maybe it's a mixture of issues, but the training should be planned so people can improve on these issues and understand how the problems have been affecting the workplace.
It's also important to make sure you are running team building sessions regularly, and not just once in a hope that will solve all the problems. Some issues may take a bit of working on, and it's never a bad thing to top up team building skills regularly. Also, if you have new staff joining the team, it's important to introduce them to your way of working to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible when it comes to teamwork.