As seen in our recent Olympic games, in companies worldwide, and right down to your local Boy and Girl Scout troops – teamwork matters. But it isn’t always a natural process to encourage people from all walks of life to work seamlessly with one another; in most cases teamwork has to be built and earned. Much like the equity in a home, it can be a slow process to build a strong team, but once you have it, the result is priceless. So how is it that some companies seem to find teamwork effortlessly? The secret is they don’t.
Think about it, Girl Scouts for example are known for camaraderie, but when you think of the clique-prone young girls in Junior High they seem to represent the antithesis. So what makes these cookie-toting schoolgirls so team oriented? Hard work! Team building exercises are key to promoting a harmonious and productive work environment, and they take time, but even a little bit can go a long way. Here at TSheets, we do more than just time tracking. We have weekly story-sharing meetings with all our employees to keep everyone on the up and up when it comes to their coworkers’ professional work and personal lives. There’s also the occasional TSheets Golf Tournament to encourage teamwork and some healthy competition, though bowling or barbecue is never off the table either. So what can you do to promote teamwork in your workplace? I’ve searched the web far and wide to find some of the more entertaining ideas and compiled them here – just for you!
1. Googlism. This was a new one to me, would only take a few minutes, and was surprisingly entertaining. Before the next meeting, have your employees head to www.googlism.com and look up their own name. Once they do, have them circle or write down a few of their favorite results, and share them before the meeting. Alternatively, you can take a break during the meeting and have people share to break up the monotony a bit – it’s your call. This is a good ice breaker, gets people in a chatty mood, and puts a casual spin on conversation to encourage the open trade of ideas.
2. The Draw. As a Communications Major, I’m a big fan of ideas that promote communication but also keep things lighthearted and fun. The principle behind this idea is to have two individuals sit back to back, one with a blank piece of paper and a pen, the other with a paper that has a shape or figure on it. Only allow one individual to see the shape or figure, then without using the word of the shape, have them guide the other individual through how to draw it. This can get pretty entertaining to see some of the results, and understand not only how others communicate, but get a better idea of your own effectiveness as a communicator. As your employees become better and better at communicating with one another, start making the pictures more and more complex!
3. The Great Egg Drop. Personally, even I remember doing this one all the way back in elementary school. The basic principle is to group your staff into teams (preferably individuals from outside departments that they don’t usually interact with), then provide some standard supplies like duct tape, balsa wood, rubber bands, etc. Once they have their team and their supplies, let them know their mission: To build an apparatus that will protect an egg from a 6 foot drop. Don’t give too many restrictions. The goal is to allow ideas to flow naturally, and then give them a time limit to build it. Once everything is put together and their time is up, gather everyone around to test them out! You can provide awards, or just let the sheer feeling of victory over others be the prize.
Now, if you’ve read through all of these ideas and thought they were either too elaborate or just not your style, keep in mind that team building exercises can come in all shapes and sizes. In the dead heat of summer, wouldn’t it be nice to treat your staff to some ice cream at the next staff meeting? Maybe provide a couple different topping options and let people exchange their favorite ice cream pairings or stories – or do the same thing with hot chocolate in the winter. You’ve got a lot of choices; the only limit is your imagination. So go forth and synergize your team, your efforts will be well rewarded in the end.