Guest post by Tom Buckland
It seems like just about every company is investing in team building these days, from the world’s biggest corporations to the smallest, newest startups. Team building can range from short exercises to full weekend retreats and ongoing regular activities.
But is all the hype around tea building justified? At Inspire Me we work with businesses to run team building activities that get employees working together as a collective unit. We know that these activities are a fantastic way to strengthen the bonds between team members, creating a happier, more efficient and more productive workforce.
Here’s why team building really is essential for the success of your business.
What is Team Building?
In essence, team building is the process of transitioning employees from seeing themselves as individuals and focusing on tasks and results on an individual level, to seeing themselves as part of a team. This is important because when employees operate strictly as individuals the wider team, and the business, in general, misses out in terms of effectiveness, productivity and ultimately results.
Although when we talk about team building we usually mention specific team building days, exercises and activities, it does not necessarily need to be that formal or a dedicated “team-building” time. You can build team spirit through the way general daily interactions and tasks are carried out. However, specific team building activities are by far the most effective way to make the changes to the mentality which will then carry on in the day-to-day.
Does Team Building Really Work?
A large number of studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of team building and its great results for the business. Given that 96% of executives say that the leading causes of issues in the workplace are poor collaboration and ineffective communication, it is not surprising that team building can support businesses to be more effective and help organizations to meet their goals.
When done well, team-building exercises and activities can improve motivation, morale, break down communication barriers, help to clearly define objectives and goals and help the group to function better as a team. The flow-on effects of all this mean more sales and more profits, which generally represent a high return on the investment made in team building.
How do you Measure the Effectiveness of Team Building?
Businesses seek to measure many things: revenue, expenses, ROI and so on. However is it possible to do the same when it comes to team building, and measure the impact of team building on your business? In fact, you really can do this and therefore quantify the benefits your business receives from team building and so gauge the return on investment it delivers.
To measure the effectiveness of team building, first of all, you’ll need to determine metrics to use as a baseline. These are essential to know where you started and therefore be able to measure how far you progress. Your baseline should take into account any particular weaknesses or issues you are looking to address through the team building. From there you can set a goal, and track your team’s progress towards that goal following their participation in team-building exercises. This could be something quite concrete and doesn’t need to be something directly related to “teamwork”. For example, your current baseline may be that your sales team is taking 10 calls per hour and your goal is to increase that number to 15.
What are the Most Effective Forms of Team Building?
Team building can take many forms, as mentioned. Aside from the general day-to-day way that employees interact which can build strong teams (or otherwise), there can be a range of ways to specifically pursue team-building with dedicated activities. One effective way to do this is to take a day out of your business’s regular schedule to focus on team building for the day. Often businesses find it helpful to contract a third-party which specializes in team building to facilitate the day.
Another great way to conduct team building over time and ensure that the result is maintained is through an ongoing activity that encourages employees to work together outside of the work context. This could be out of hours or even allowed for during regular work hours – depending on management’s policy. Examples including a lunchtime walking club, a weekend sports team or a charity group which gives back to the community. These examples not only promote team building but other positives as well, name exercises, healthy lifestyles and giving back to others.
After a one-off activity such as a team-building day, it is important to observe whether there is a boost in productivity. You will very likely notice this, as it is common that staff members will feel encouraged, motivated and feel an increase in confidence. It is equally confident to observe these factors and how they progress over time, and whether this new team dynamic is maintained or returns to normal after a week or two. Avoid this loss of momentum, and keep generating the positive results you’ll enjoy from a cohesive team, by organizing regular events that will continue to build a true team in your business.
Tom Buckland is an SEO consultant and the owner of Ghost Marketing, the #1 link building agency in the United Kingdom. He also owns the SEO blog, SEO Oasis and is an entrepreneur at heart. Connect with him on Twitter.