As managers, it can be easy to overlook activities that help to strengthen teamwork in favor of training that focuses on specific hard skills. Team building is often dismissed as a fun activity, but when carried out effectively, it can go a long way to bolstering collaboration and motivating your staff.

What is Team-Building?

The term 'team-building' has become something of a buzzword, encompassing everything from strategic away days to staff nights out. But at its core, team building can be broadly defined as any activity that entertains, motivates, and challenges staff while having the positive side-effect of improving skills related to collaboration.

Team-Building Activities As a Useful Tool

Over four decades of research, organizational behavior pioneer J. Richard Hackman discovered that good teamwork isn't about the personalities, behaviors, and attitudes of individual team members. Instead, it relies on certain "enabling conditions"; factors such as a supportive environment and a strong team structure geared toward promoting positive dynamics.

In other words, it doesn't matter who you have on your team, collaboration can thrive given the right conditions. Team-building activities can be an effective way to create these conditions. Even if the objective of your team-building day is simply to get out of the office and have fun by bringing people together and out of their comfort zone, you can help to sow the seeds for better collaboration down the line. This, in turn, can be a major motivator for your staff.

Types of Team-Building Activities

The phrase 'team-building activity' might conjure up an image of a group of middle-managers completing trust exercises in a hotel conference room, but there are many other options available.

Common types of team-building activity include:

“Field Trips”

This is a fairly loose term that broadly refers to getting your team out of the office for a day to engage in a specific activity. Whether that activity involves going to a museum or exploring a new section of your city, it places your team in an unfamiliar environment. This can prove helpful in breaking down silos and fostering new lines of communication.

Taking Classes

Is there a skill that members of your team are keen to learn as a group - perhaps coding, or a foreign language? Even if it's not directly relevant to your business, this can be a highly effective way to bring your team together.

Problem-Solving Activities

Tackling challenges and solving difficult problems can give your team a sense of shared achievement that carries over into their day jobs. Going to an escape room or even just participating in a trivia night can sharpen your team’s ability to work together.

Want more leadership tips? Check out our article on building effective teams. For more career tips, browse all of our advice here. Or get in touch with one of our expert consultants to discuss your career options.

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