Managing people isn’t easy. Keeping tabs on everyone, administering pay and benefits, ensuring knowledge gaps are filled and that your workforce is happy is a monumental task. Of course, people management software makes this easier, but there are still many extra ‘add-ons’ that need to be in place to ensure that teams of people are working as effectively and enthusiastically as possible.
One of these extra add-ons is team building activities. ‘Team building’ days are something you’ll see happening in offices up and down the country. Beloved by HR teams, team building activities offer employees to get to know one another better, draw on their key skills, build confidence and get them working as a cohesive unit.
But is there any science behind it? Do team building activities really work, and should your business be hosting them?
Well, according to this article, a team of researchers set about to find out if team building activities actually work. They looked at four team building components: goal setting, interposal relations, problem solving and role clarification. The correlations they identified suggested that there is indeed a positive effect across all the team building components, and even more interestingly, goal setting and role clarification were the two factors that were most strongly improved by team building activities.
So, there is certainly scientific evidence that team building activities work.
Furthermore, team building days actually give businesses a chance to measure things we typically consider to be unquantifiable. For example, high performing teams typically demonstrate energy, creativity and shared commitment, all of which are hard to ‘measure’ in a scientific sense.
However, it is actually possible to measure these things scientifically, and that’s because they all rely on communication. Communication can be measured scientifically by collecting data or carrying out simple observations on how much an employee is talking when doing a team building activity, how much they’re listening, their tone of voice, their volume and their body language. This kind of behaviour can then be analysed to indicate how effective a group is likely to be.
That’s why team building activities are such a good idea: it will allow you to see how effectively a team is communicating to achieve a common goal. Fun activities will help to strengthen key skills your team needs to be effective, and you can do these inside or outside the office. All you’ll need to do is identify what it is you want to achieve from your team building event before looking for activities that fill the bill.
Once you’ve organised a team building activity, look for some key qualities and try to develop them in employees who don’t seem to be exhibiting them. For instance, a successful team building activity should see the group:
- Allowing everyone on the team to have a chance to talk
- Listening to each other
- Connecting with each other, not just the team leader
- Making an effort to face one another and demonstrate enthusiasm and positivity
Remember, however, that teams need to consist of members with different personalities and strength to succeed.
Be mindful of the fact that very extraverted or confident team members may dominate conversations and decisions if they’re not gently reminded to give other team members a chance, and bear in mind that very introverted or shy team members might not exhibit the same communication skills or enthusiasm as their colleagues – but it doesn’t mean they’re not committed to the team or enjoying themselves!