Team building is one of those aspects of work culture most find difficult to define. How do you rate the cooperation different employees display with each other? Is the failure of a team to perform the result of poor individual participation, a lack of chemistry between members, or bad direction?
There’s an issue with teamwork in the modern business environment. Though most acknowledge teams are invaluable in accomplishing tasks too large for a single person, 85% of US employees believe working on teams is difficult. Our thinking about teams is inverted; where teams should be making it easier to set goals and accomplish, many think teams are slowing them down.
Team building exercises can help guide employees to work with each other more effectively, but how do you measure how effective each exercise is? Here are a few ways to build up cooperation in your organization while keeping track of improvements.
A Blind Fold
Communication is among the most important aspects of a successful team. A folding exercise can demonstrate how well each person on the team understands each other. Have everyone sit down, blindfolded, and fold a piece of paper blindfolded, according to the instructions of one team member. Each person’s paper will end looking differently, depending on how they interpreted the instructions as well as their personal aptitude.
What to track: Have the instructor select which fold is closest to what he wanted to see which employees understand each other best. More employees should be able to approximate the instructor’s vision over time. By using this test to discover which employees have similar working, thinking and listening styles you can get an idea of how they might work well (or not!) together.
The House Teams Built
If your company has the resources to do so, have a team volunteer to help build or repair a home for an organization such as Habitat for Humanity. This is a perfect team exercise, since this one large task is made up several smaller tasks employees must assign and delegate.
What to track: Employees should find how to know what they’re able to do best. Keep track of which employees naturally fall into which tasks, how long it takes for everyone to delegate and begin on tasks, as well as how quickly every milestone in the project is completed. Note squabbles, general laziness and who cooperates to get the job done, well.
Inspiration at Lunch
Not all team building comes in the form of arranged exercises. Something as simple as employees having lunch together can help build their confidence in each other. Between casual conversation about the news and themselves, ideas about how to improve the team, a process, or the workplace are bound to pop up.
What to track: Employee’s private conversations should be kept as such, but you create an incentive for them to catalog ideas created during these casual conversations. With enough participation, trends should emerge, revealing which employees bounce ideas off each other most often and how many good ideas come from idle time. This should give your company a good idea of where its best inspiration comes from.
Trust in a team can be just as important as communication. But how do you build it? Here’s a quick exercise that helps foster it: take a few objects from around the office (nothing too sharp, mind!), litter them around on open space, and once again, blindfold the participants. This time, employees should work in pairs, with one person guiding their blind partner through the maze by calling out directions.
What to track: Keep an eye on time, which pairs tend to work together consistently, and how often each person collides with obstacles. Also try to monitor how hesitant each blindfolded new person is to follow instructions by tracking how fast they respond to commands with a new partner. Building trust isn’t mutually exclusive to thinking logically, but sometimes placing faith in a partner should supersede one’s desire to avoid failure.
Phoning it in
If you can convince employees to take part in a children’s game, you could wind up improving your team’s communication. For the uninitiated, a game of Telephone involves people sitting or standing in a straight line, having one person whisper a message to the person next to them, and having that person tell the person next to them the same thing. The message will invariably change by the time you get to the last person.
What to track: It might be a little hard to monitor each specific change to the message, since it’s imperative that the message remain a secret. However, you can keep track of how much the message changed, and how the meaning of the message changed as a result. This will tell you how people interpret and condense messages sent to them, and how people should structure their messages to get their points across.
Exercises can help build teamwork by themselves, but using tracking software like ClearCompany’s seamless performance management system can help you use them to their full potential. Sign up for a demo today and see how you can improve productivity in your workplace!