Quick — say the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the phrase "corporate team building". I'll wait...
Did you say, "outward bound"?
Was it "a day away from my computer"?
Or, was it "total waste of time"?
I hope it wasn't that last one, because, truth be told, it's not a waste. When I was in the seventh grade, our school took us on a field trip to the county jail and courthouse. (No, I'm not making this up. Yes, we did question their faith in our future...) While we might have been wishing we were going to a water park instead, I remember talking to kids I didn't usually talk to on that trip, and suddenly having a discussion about things we wouldn't in a classroom. (It's hard not too while standing in a jail cell.)What everyone thought was a waste of time had sparked discussion about our futures, the legal process, and how we could shape our lives.
Obviously, you're not a child on a field trip. However, as a business professional, you probably wonder why you're being asked to take time out of your schedule for team building. Next time you're looking at a team event on your schedule, or if you're trying to come up with a way to excite your team about something you've planned, think about these benefits:
Change of setting/activity can facilitate stagnant communication: You get in your car. You drive to work. You sit at your desk. You look at the same window. You talk to the same small group of people about the same issues. You're in a rut. Chances are your communication is in a rut, too.
Simply taking the group away from the repetitive grind can encourage the communication channels to open, and it doesn't have to involve a "trust fall". Your team building activity may be as simple as a walking meeting once a week, with a rotating cast of colleagues.
Strengthen good relationships and repair difficult ones: The first half of this equation is easy. Undoubtedly, you've got your go-to group of colleagues. It isn't wrong to further engage with them during team building events! However, what if you could reach out to a co-worker you spend less time with? Or with whom you've got some bad blood?
The magic of team building day might not solve every problem in the office, but it may give some of them a chance to air out a bit. As a manager, see how you can foster communication between disparate parties (you know who has problems with whom). As a team member, be bold and give it a try. Reach out to the difficult colleagues, as well as the ones that are tops of your list. One less complicated office interaction = one less roadblock to productivity and positivity.
Bring humor back to the workplace: It's easy to lose levity at work, but humor is a great way to bond with your co-workers. Team building activities like Improv for Business not only improve communication skills, but bring on the laughs. And when you forge connections through shared laughter, you can build on them when you return to the office. Wouldn't it be nice to actually enjoy your colleagues again?
Have you had a team building experience worth its weight in gold? Looking for that perfect event for your team? Let us know in the comments below!
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