Effective Leadership: Team Building Exercises That Work

You’re at a cross-road. Everyone on your team is extremely talented and knowledgeable, but there’s just something missing about their ability to work together. Often you find your team members frustrated by another’s actions or simply ignoring the input of other members and pursuing their own objectives. You don’t see them collaborating as much as they should be and it’s really effecting your bottom line.

So, how do you create a positive team environment and team building exercises that work?

Take a rain check on “trust-falls” and check out these ideas for creating team building exercises that work — you may even find a few examples that you want to try out with your team.

Create Healthy Competition

Even if you seemingly have a team of non-competitive workers, creating healthy competition is essential in building effective communication among team members.

The MBO Thermometer. Having MBOs (aka Market Business Objectives) for each of your team members is a great start in helping them achieve attainable goals. What can sometimes create hostility among team members is the pure ignorance of not knowing what others on that same team are being asked to do.

You may think, “Well, that’s not their business.”, but, what you’re really doing is not providing the opportunity for others to know how they fit in to the department’s overall vision for success. You’re eliminating the ability for each team member to know how important what they’re doing is and how they matter to the team and your organization. By siloing each member’s goals, you’re missing out on the opportunity for your team to create camaraderie.

Instead of siloing the goals of each team member into a private conversation or accountability meeting, create an MBO “thermometer” of sorts that everyone can see. Whether a digital dashboard or a physical work of art, allow each team member to see how they measure up against their other team members in completing their tasks for that allotted time period. This creates healthy competition and doesn’t leave any team member wondering if or how they fit in to the plan.

Cross Pollinate

If you have the luxury of working in or for a company that has multiple departments within it that have a substantial amount of staff, try creating joint goals across departments. Intertwine workers that don’t typically work together into joint quarterly objectives.

As an example, if you have a marketing department that has multiple teams within it, more likely than not you have small “hives” of team members who don’t typically spend too much time “pollinating” with others. As social creatures, humans tend to form groups or cliques that can unintentionally divide departments.

To break down these walls, connect, let’s say, your email marketing specialist with your lead blogger and create a joint goal for them to strategize together to create higher response rates and acquire X new leads for the organization. This creates an incredible opportunity for individuals who may specialize in different areas to see how their incredible talent can be enhanced or dampened by how well they are communicating and working with others in the department. This will build respect and appreciation for other team members, while expanding their knowledge about how your organization operates and how they both are important to achieving the overall goals of the organization.

Have A Beer Not A Happy Hour

That’s right. Stop thinking that happy hours help build up teams — they don’t. So many companies think that encouraging social drinking and activities will help build team camaraderie. What many fail to realize is how many introverts and non-social people work for them!

Instead of encroaching on your team member’s personal time by forcing a team happy hour after work, set up 1:1 time with them or schedule 1:1 time between them and a team member they may not know very well and let them leave work a little early to go grab a beer. That 1:1 time is invaluable and allows your team members to relax and have some time to shoot the breeze without having to worry about filtering their conversations with others around — especially you!

This shows an incredible level of trust and encourages relationship building without the pressure of having to “perform” in front of others. Let people get to know each other in environments that they’re comfortable with and explore how they connect with people they work with on a professional and personal level.

These team building exercises actually work, so give them a try and tell me how they worked for your organization. Also, don’t think that one time will do the trick! Set up multiple projects and goals and take advantages of these team building exercises.

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Finally writing for pleasure instead of employment.

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