Does Team Building Boost Productivity?

We would argue that team building exercises aren’t only for bringing a team together; they’re essential for the success of your business.

We’ve all heard the saying “no man is an island” this is certainly true when it comes to running a business. This is why it’s so important to keep your whole team working productively together. The question is – how do you do that? Part of the answer is to incorporate team building exercises into your corporate routine. It’s fair to say that the small-business owner who can build a culture around cooperation and collaboration enjoys more success.
Effective team building exercises, (it’s why we are called Team Building Solutions!), can help cultivate trust, support and respect among the group, positively affecting the work environment. These exercises can also help to shine a light on the strengths and weaknesses of participants, which gives management a better idea of job fit.

When you may need to use team building exercises
We are sure that most if not all small-business owners know when it’s business is not progressing as well as it could. When you see persistent problems—such as decreased productivity, conflict, lack of cooperation or involvement, hostility, apathy and complaints about favouritism—it’s in your best interest to look at team building as a way to restore camaraderie and a positive work environment.

Determine your team building needs
Let’s be honest – team building exercises aren’t effective in a vacuum – that advice comes directly from a company that provides these exercises! In order for your company to benefit from these exercises, you must be clear on exactly what you’re trying to accomplish. Identify your reasons for the team building exercises and share them with your employees.

What are some of the most common reasons?
The reasons we most often hear from our clients include a need to improve communication, develop creativity and build trust and team work between different departments. Once you know the qualities you want to encourage, you can choose the team building exercises designed to accomplish your goal.

5 Categories for team building exercises
There are five main categories of team building exercises that we can focus on. They consist of activities that build communication, promote problem solving and decision making, encourage adaptability and the ability to plan, work to build trust, and develop a cooperative spirit. The team building exercises that promote these various skills are meant to be enjoyable and instructional.
Depending on what you want to improve on your team, you can try some of the following activities:
1. Build communication. Activities that develop open lines of communication and listening increase communication. Have two or three colleagues sitting back to back with two or three other colleagues. Give one of the groups a diagram containing some simple objects and words that they will need to describe to the other group who need to draw what is being explained to them. Give them a good amount of time, but don’t let the drawing group communicate with the describing group.
It’s a great activity that highlights various communication issues – from the amount of info we can process to the speed of communication. There will be a lot you can discuss on this!
2. Promote problem solving and decision making. We really like the Paper Tower activity for this. Give the team around 100 sheets of A4 paper, a roll of sellotape and a cream egg. The task is to build the tallest freestanding tower that will support the egg at it’s highest point. If you have a bigger team, split them into smaller groups to promote a little bit of friendly competition. You will be amazed and the different designs!
3. Encourage creativity and planning. Survival scenarios work well to encourage planning and creativity. We use a NASA based scenario where the team has crash landed on the moon and the items that survived the crash have to be listed in terms of its usefulness. This can be found easily on the internet.
4. Build trust. One of the harder ones to do on a shoestring if you want to get away from the old ‘trust fall’! These activities tend to be based around activities where a person is blindfolded and must therefore ‘trust’ their colleagues. However, if you expand this out, then a number of different decision based scenarios can engender trust as the group must trust in it’s own decision making process.
5. Nurture a cooperative spirit. Assigning employee teams to volunteer with charitable causes is a good way to encourage cooperation. When people work on a cause that the team cares about, they will bond. The opportunity to give back to those less fortunate often creates a charitable, cooperative attitude among everyone involved. We have been involved in connecting companies to various charitable causes and is usually easily done as they can always do with a helping hand (or two!). Alternatively, most smartphones and tablets now contain movie making software. It’s easy to use this in a fun way to get the team to create an advert for something work related. It gives roles that everyone can embrace – from the actors to the writers and from the director to the editor.

Armed with these simple ideas for team building exercises, it’s up to you to create the best working culture for your business. Remember, however, that these won’t resolve any deeper issues you may be experiencing, but are part of the cultural change that may need to happen within your business.

If you feel you need additional help with your team, please contact us on 01425 629327.

Teambuilding Solutions has also recently joined in with the “Power to the People” campaign, read more about it here: http://worklab.breathehr.com

Top tips for successful Team Building

Engineering good teamwork comes with time, effort and the right management structure. Setting the right environment for your team to flourish will reap bountiful results. So what is the key to this?

Our top tips for successful team building:

– The team needs to understand the goals of the task. So set the mission and purpose clearly so everyone understands. Clear expectations will allow for goals and outcomes to be achieved.
– Create an environment where everyone is comfortable to communicate and take action.
– Set the rules for communication. Advocate openness, honesty and respect.
– Help your team to trust each other by making them feel comfortable. Encourage everyone to ask questions, it will help clarity.
– Create a sense of belonging. If a team establishes their relationship guidelines then they will work together coherently and happily.
– Realise that everyone is unique and different, has a point of view and an opinion. Take advantage of the differences in your team, after all a team should be made up of a balance of different skills and it is these skills that will work together to create a pleasing final outcome to a project.
– Think about team building exercises and motivational events that will bond everyone together, a day at the races, a murder mystery night or a cocktail making session can all provide a relaxed environment that will allow conversation to flow and everyone to bond. Once the team have bonded and become friends outside of the office environment they will be more willing to help and nurture each other in the workplace.
– Choose a professional company who can design a strategy for this by setting tasks and games for them to play. Identify the strengths and weaknesses in the group and use other methods of team building to enhance and improve these.

Contact us NOW on 01425 629327 to find out how we can help you with an appropriate activity for your team needs.

Why Development Planning should be part of your Management Planning

Development planning should be a central element to any management structure. Helping your employees to plan their future careers is essential to their growth, team spirit and the future of the company. Not understanding the needs and the talents of your employees can lead to the loss of talent, a company that manages its staff well and with due diligence and care will win every time.
An article titled “Why Top Young Managers Are in a Nonstop Job Hunt” by Monika Hamori, Jie Cao and Burak Koyuncu from the Harvard Business Review stated that
“Dissatisfaction with some employee-development efforts appears to fuel many early exits. We asked young managers what their employers do to help them grow in their jobs and what they’d like their employers to do, and found some large gaps. Workers reported that companies generally satisfy their needs for on-the-job development and that they value these opportunities, which include high-visibility positions and significant increases in responsibility. But they’re not getting much in the way of formal development, such as training, mentoring and coaching – things they also value highly.”
It essentially described that many high achievers are not getting the career development that they need. So why is development planning frequently ignored?
1. Many companies focus on the here and now, day to day operations become more important.
2. No time for activities. This is such a poor excuse, as team building done correctly will serve a wider purpose, not just from an individual’s development but from an overall team perspective.
3. Genuine interest in your employee’s future is important to the morale of the team as a whole. It will also build loyalty. Once you have the engagement of a team member then this will lead to enhanced productivity.
4. Talented people who are good at their jobs want to advance in their careers, supporting and nurturing this is key. Training, mentoring and coaching are all part of making this happen. Being versatile and valuable will enhance an organisation. Allowing your employees to experience this is paramount.
5. Development planning does not necessarily have to be as costly to a company as you may think. Finding the right professional who can tailor events and workshops to your needs will only benefit everyone, not least of all the overall productivity of a company.
6. The right training will lead to a strong team that work well together. Why not think about a weekend get away with your employees, a food and drink event as a reward for hard work, a day on the water or even simple indoor activities to free the mind and get the creative juices flowing.
How will this help? It will help you to understand your employees as individuals. You will be able to establish what their skill sets are and any needs they may have. Identifying the gaps in their knowledge will help you lead them to a brighter future. If you get this right, then the reward will be long term loyalty, so the pay offs can be immense.

Contact us NOW on 01425 629327 to find out how we can help your team.

Leadership – where does it begin?

Leadership – where does it begin?

Teambuilding Solutions had the pleasure of presenting a Leadership Workshop for two hours at Eden Girls School in Walthemstowe, London. This prompted the question of when and at what age should we be thinking in terms of our own leadership and leadership style? At what age is this appropriate?

Well, we believe that the younger you introduce these concepts to children, the better equipped they will be in later life. When I think back to my own school years (quite a long time ago I know!) we didn’t receive any formal learning of teams or leadership – we learnt by doing. My first encounter with management style was at University during my degree, and that was a very formal way of learning. The rest came whilst working in the real world where all mistakes are amplified. It was only through self development did I really become to better understand how important this is in life and relationships. And yes, I’m still making mistakes!

I congratulate schools like Eden Girls for being progressive in introducing the concept and some of the terminology to children as young as Year 7 (11 to 12 year olds). After all, what are the key messages for being a good leader?

Listening skills

Positive attitude

Encourage others

Help people around you grow and develop

Etc

Are these not great attributes for our youth to aspire toward if they are to develop into the kind of adults we want them to be?

Well done Eden Girls School, we applaud your attitude and willingness to arm your pupils with important skills that they will find extremely useful not only during their school life, but later on in their adult life. This is a lesson many companies could learn!

Leaders

Motivating the Motivator – Jane Boucher

Jane Boucher, our American partner and prolific writer and speaker, has the following advice:

How do you manage your motivation?  Do you even think about it?  It is difficult for your employees to be enthusiastic about their productivity when they perceive doubt in their leader.  It’s that simple.

Giving praise, encouraging and motivating others will, in and of itself provide you with motivation.  There is nothing like the hum of productivity and the smiles of satisfied employees to help you love the job you have.  But there are a few other suggestions to help you stay fresh and motivated, especially in an economy that will distract you.

Set your own goals.  Take time to jot down where you want to be on your job in the next few months or years.  Read these goals periodically to help keep you motivated and focused.

Stay informed.  A wealth of information is available through seminars, cassettes, CDs, books, professional magazines, the Internet and your local library.  Sign up for a class that is work-related or enroll in a course that allows you to explore a subject that has always interested you.  You can appoint an employee to give you updates and reports in targeted areas.

Sweep away negative cobwebs from your thoughts.  Having hassles on the job, car troubles, the post-holiday blues?   Sometimes your mind can become cluttered with life’s little annoyances.  They seep into the job before you know it and prohibit you from being the motivator you are.  Clear your mind by quiet meditation or reading inspirational books.  Take time to help a community organization or simply enjoy a stroll in a park for a mind clearing, energy boost.  Take a time-out in between work and family to change gears and mentally clear your mind.  Stop at the gym or walk home and get your blood pressure checked regularly.  You can be just as proactive in your life as you are in business management.

Associate with positive people.  Stay motivated by being around other motivators.  Allow yourself to be inspired by fellow successful managers. Share your concerns, stimulate your thinking and allow others to help you enlarge your capacity to enjoy the work you do.

We hope you found this as interesting as we did. Thanks to Jane for sharing her thoughts.