Arranging employees into work teams is a time honored tradition that has proven to be effective in the work place, but getting it done is not as important as doing it well. You need to identify individual weaknesses and strengths in order to compose work teams that will be self-sufficient and reliable with as little supervision as possible.
There are right ways to build a team and there are wrong ways to build a team, along with the methods that are just plain time wasters. There is also a time for everything, and some methods will be more or less effective depending on the cohesiveness of the team. Just like those icebreakers everyone hated doing on the first day of class, there are methods that straight up just will not work.
The first thing you need to do is figure out the initial cohesion of the team you are assembling. If you are replacing another HR professional who had developed teams, everyone might already be buddy-buddy and work well together. In that case don’t mess with the chemistry. For these current teams you can employ more ‘embarrassing’ yet appropriate activities because they’ll all be more comfortable around each other and team building exercises that were once ineffective become fun and relaxing. Here are a few examples:
-Two Truths and a Lie
For new groups you need to find a way to get everyone to work well together, and what better way to do that than to get them working together? Give them some sort of hypothetical assignment and put them to work. Depending on the composition, a natural leader may emerge who will get a discussion going and rally the others to be open to opinions. Also, don’t stand around them while they’re doing this. Go leave for a while and let them be in a relaxed environment where they can just talk. Here are a few activities that work in this situation:
-The Tin Foil Boat (only if there are other teams involved)
-Outdoors Geocaching on Google Maps (if it’s a nice day)
But then there are a few things you should NEVER do. These are activities that, while fun in kindergarten camp, can lead to problems by singling out individuals or lowering self-esteem. These usually involve more physical exercises and can be okay with certain team conditions, but as a rule of thumb just never do them.
You get the picture. Just be reasonable and remember, these are adults after all. There’s a reason Stanley despises Michael in ‘The Office.’
What team building activities work for you and your office? Any of the ones mentioned? Let us know in the comments!
IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by genvessel