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The value of team-building exercises

 
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As a manager, you know your company’s success depends on your team. And your team can only function well when you know how to motivate a diverse group of people, all with different personalities and work styles, to produce great results. Of course, a lot of this comes down to solid day-to-day managing skills. Assigning work to the appropriate employees, giving them the tools to perform well, and encouraging them to rise to the next level are all aspects of your daily responsibilities. However, there can be times when your team needs a little help to really pull together. That’s where team-building exercises come in. Team-building exercises can be useful in the following situations:

  • When a new employee is having trouble fitting in. Even if a new hire appeared to be a good cultural match during the interview process, he or she can still have trouble integrating into the group. Incorporating one or more team-building exercises into the onboarding process can help your team members get to know one another better.
  • When team members aren’t communicating and collaborating effectively. Lack of communication in the workplace can adversely affect how people work together, create conflicts, and ultimately compromise productivity. According to Chron, team-building exercises can teach employees how to communicate—without the pressure associated with work-related projects. This can help them see things from each other’s point of view, resulting in less conflict and a better understanding of how to collaborate as a group in order to achieve great results.
  • When a company is struggling and staff morale is low. Difficult times affect everybody in a company, and it’s not unusual for employees to become stressed and demotivated. In situations like these, team-building exercises can help employees gain perspective on the situation, band together as a group, and become motivated to improve productivity.

Selecting team building exercises

According to U.S. News, team-building exercises are the most effective when they’re positive, have clearly defined goals, and offer clear lessons. That’s why you need to select exercises that are tailored to the situation you want to address. For example, if you want your employees to get to know each other better, choose relationship-building exercises rather than trust-building ones. Asking each employee to share something personal about him or herself with the team will be much more effective than instructing people to participate in a “trust lean” exercise in which one person has to lean backward, trusting he or she will be caught by the assigned partner before losing balance.

There’s a wide variety of team-building exercises, from puzzles and word games to weekend retreats and obstacle courses. However, some of these activities might make your employees feel uncomfortable or be more demanding on your employees’ time than others. For example, somebody with a health condition might not be able to participate in a day of adventure activities, while employees with young children or elderly live-in parents might not find be able to get away for longer than a day. So before selecting any activity, U.S News recommends making sure it respects your employees’ physical capabilities and comfort zones.

Examples of team building exercises

In order to select team-building activities that are appropriate and effective, most companies employ specialized consulting firms. However, to give you an idea of what’s possible, here are three team-building exercises you can easily do in the office.

  1. Information gathering: Tools for Mentoring lists this as a relationship building exercise. Split the team up into pairs and instruct them to find out as much as possible about each other in three minutes. When the time’s up, ask the partners to introduce each other to the rest of the group, referring only to the information they just learned.
  2. Bull’s eye: In her book The Big Book of Conflict Resolution Games, author and corporate trainer Mary Scannell recommends this exercise for conflict resolution. On a flip chart, draw a large bull’s eye with three circles. The outer circle represents the company, the middle circle is the team, and the circle in the center represents the individual team members. Ask your team members how effectively resolving conflicts in the workplace impacts them, their teams, and their companies, and write their answers in the appropriate places on the target. Then build on their responses to encourage a discussion about how to improve conflict resolution at work.
  3. Back-to-back drawing: Mindtools recommends this exercise to improve communication. Divide the team into pairs, and give one person of each pair a picture of a shape, the other a pencil and piece of paper. Instruct the people with the pictures to describe them to their partners without actually saying what the shape represents. Ask their partners to draw the shapes based on the descriptions. Finish the exercise by evaluating how apt the descriptions were, how well the instructions were interpreted, and whether there were any problems in the communication process.   

Team building is an integral aspect of good management, both when new employees are introduced into the workplace and as an ongoing endeavor to promote communication and collaboration. And when individuals feel understood and appreciated as part of a larger endeavor, then the goals of that team become far more attainable.

Source:

http://money.usnews.com/money/careers/slideshows/the-best-team-building-exercises/7 http://smallbusiness.chron.com/importance-teambuilding-activities-40587.html http://wilderdom.com/games/TrustActivities.html http://www.institutik.cz/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/The-big-book-of-conflict-resolution-games.pdf http://www.toolsformentoring.com/small-group/relationship-builders.html http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMM_52.htm


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