Pay attention, because you’re about to witness an Internet rarity.
I do not want you to read this blog. Not at first, anyway.
Instead, I want you to look around your office. Look at all the people buzzing around. All of your team members, working, talking, goofing off – whatever they’re doing at this moment. Don’t judge – just think: Do I trust them? Do they trust each other? Petty annoyances aside, if I’m in a foxhole with them, do they have my back? Do they have each others’ backs?
Whether the answer is “yes” or “no,” the exercise demonstrates the importance of investing in team building.
The value of team building
Team members who are given opportunities to interact with each other on a personal, human level develop familiarity and empathy with one another. Without that familiarity, assumptions fill in the blank space – and assumptions tend to default to the negative. Organizations develop an “us” and “them” mentality between departments and between people. Factions develop, and over time, the culture crumbles. Without a strong culture, recruiting and retaining talent becomes very difficult.
In short, effective team building isn’t a one-time investment of time and resources. It is an ongoing effort that requires patience, commitment and leadership.
Making the investment
You don’t need deep pockets to foster a sense of teamwork. If your company is small, a monthly brown-bag picnic at a local park is a great way to bring your people together. Ice cream socials and happy hours are two other tried-and-true methods; anything that gets your team members talking to one another outside of a work setting is a great start.
As your organization grows and department boundaries become more defined, consider enlisting professional help. A trained facilitator can provide the resources and knowledge to help you create and plan team-building activities such as corporate retreats and community service activities. There is a science to team building, and there are professionals who understand how to put that science to work for your company.
However you do it, remember that team building doesn’t just happen. It takes effort, knowledge and persistence to build a company where trust among team members is the rule – not the exception.
Pete Honsberger is the director of client services at CultureShoc. If you need assistance on how to build better teams contact him at email@example.com.