If you’ve never hosted a team building process you may be asking yourself, “Is this even worth it? Will a team building activity solve any of my problems?” The answer is, “yes.” Many feel that the term “team building” is just a buzz word tossed around to encourage employees. When in actuality team building is the backbone of a productive team.
The main goal of any team building event is to improve productivity and motivation among employees. By taking your employees out of the office you are promoting the elimination of political and personal barriers. This also eliminates distractions and encourages a fun atmosphere.
There are several benefits associated with team building activities. They include the improvement of morale and leadership skills. Company goals and objectives become clearly defined while processes, procedures, and organizational productivity are all improved. A team’s strengths and weaknesses are more clearly defined. People identify the barriers to creativity and problem solving is improved. As the event planner, you can take advantage of all of these benefits or only a few of them.
Define your goals clearly for benefits to be effective
It’s important to clearly define the goals of your team building activity. Lindsay Olson from U.S. News and World Report has these considerations to offer when helping establish an event’s overall goals.
- What is the team climate? Is it hostile? Indifferent?
- How much will management be involved? (Support from them encourages the team building)
- How long will the event take?
- Where will it take place?
- Outside consultants can help identify which team problems need addressing.
Benefits of team building: the statistics
It’s easy to read about the benefits of team building on paper or imagine the outcome of the event in your head. Team building is known to foster better communication between employees as well as improving employees motivation and trust.
Alex “Sandy” Pentland, the director of MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory and the MIT Media Lab Entrepreneurship Program, decided to quantify these metrics to establish what it takes to create a productive team. Her team utilized lapel buttons that collect data, over six weeks, for more than a hundred points. Data included voice inflection, body language, who they talked to, and for how long.
These experiments proved that good communication is crucial to maintaining a good team. Alex states “we found that the best predictors of productivity were a team’s energy and engagement outside formal meetings.”
Alex’s team was asked to help a bank’s call center. The manager wanted to know why some teams succeed when similar teams could not. After the six weeks, Alex and her team recommended that the manager schedule everyone’s coffee breaks at the same time. It would allow people more time to socialize away from their workstations. Once this mass coffee break began the manager began to see a 20% decrease in average handling time (AHT the industry standard for call centers) among poorly performing teams and an overall drop of 8%. The manager has now changed the coffee break schedule at all of the call centers.