One of the most frequent requests we receive from prospects and clients is to help develop their teams so that they can be truly high-performing, whether they are teams at the top, or teams at the front line. We believe that team-building exercises can be a useful complement to the more serious work of getting teams to build the ROCC of Trust with one another, which requires keeping commitments to one another (Reliability), communicate transparently and listen empathically (Openness), develop one another’s strengths and address their weaknesses (Competence), and most importantly, have each other’s and the organization’s best interests at heart.
SheFinds founder Michelle Michelle Madhok and her team after a playful paint-throwing exercise. Photo credit: WhoopeeTeambuilding exercises often get a bad rap as a waste of employees’ time, but some entrepreneurs are finding value in activities that are tailored to resolve specific challenges in their business. Designed correctly, team building programs can strengthen unraveling employee relationships, help sustain corporate culture during periods of fast growth, and build morale amid layoffs, human-resource experts say.Exercise: To educate employees in an entertaining way, as well as bring them together as a team, Koch came up with Beer Jeopardy, an annual game where roughly half of the 850 employees compete against one another to test their beer IQ. All departments compete, but employees in the brewery play a tougher version of the quiz game separately. In addition to answering trivia questions, employees must do blind taste tests to identify different brews. Top prizes include hop-buying trips abroad and a visit to Oktoberfest in Munich. The game “has a way of knitting us together,” Koch says.Boston Beer founder Jim Koch at the podium hosting Beer Jeopardy, a company event that tests employees beer IQ.Photo courtesy of the company
Expert advice: A creative approach works well when trying to teach company and industry knowledge, says Aneil Mishra, managing partner at Total Trust Coaching and Consulting, a Durham, N.C., firm that provides team development programs. “Games and creative exercises such as this are more likely to be retained by employees than rote memorization.”
The most important aspect of team-building exercises is whether they are truly applied to teams’ real work after the “experts” depart. If the exercises not only surface important issues that the teams face, but also provide the tools to address those issues, and if the leaders make sure to apply those tools and reinforce desired team behaviors, then the money spent on the exercises will be well-spent. Otherwise, the exercises will be viewed as “flavor of the month” or worse.
What kinds of team-building have you participated in, and how have you applied them in your organization?