Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Real Team-Building

How many times have you mentioned "team-building exercise" and seen eyes rolling and people heading for the door? That many? Without even knowing you I bet I can tell you why. It's because your exercises have nothing to do with any kind of relationship to your staff's jobs. A 250 pound man falling backwards for a 125 pound woman to catch is not going to help them at work.

When developing a program ask yourself what your real need is. Is it to actually build teamwork? Is it simply to improve morale? Is it to increase communication? Depending on your answer, the way you go about developing is going to be quite different.

If you're going to team-build, it has to be more than just a fun activity. It has to be something that will apply back at the workplace. Referencing a team-building book (there are tons of them out there) is great, but you still have to tweak it to your needs. Remember to be sure that you work in your organizations mission and values. This is the perfect opportunity to do so without the "here it comes again" attitudes. Team-building done correctly will leave them feeling more apart of the organization.

If your goal is to improve morale, by all means, go out and do something fun. Take everyone to a ballgame or go play laser-tag (very fun). Do something totally different.

If you're trying to increase communication, get that team-building book out. You'll find a lot of ideas in there where staff have to work together in order to get something accomplished, things where they have to talk with one another in order to get the job done. They'll get a sense of camaraderie and a better understanding of each other and how they think.

The whole idea with these three programs is to engage or reengage your staff. Nancy Mann Jackson summed it up best in a recent article in Entrepreneur magazine - "An engaged employee will stop and pick up a piece of trash in the hallway, a disengaged employee will walk by the piece of trash and leave it, and an actively disengaged employee will throw the trash on the floor." Which employee do you want?

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