Team building techniques are the pro-active approach to turning group problems into positive results. Most groups have areas of conflict, barriers to communication or a clash of personalities, but team building allows the group an opportunity to solve problems through fun and healthy activities.
Team leaders and group members can identify both problems and solutions to overcoming challenges in the workplace through a step-by-step process.
Tension from conflict or an overbearing workload can inhibit communication between group members or cause individuals to “shut down” within their work environment. Break the ice before you begin to tackle the real problems, and group members are more likely to approach team building with some enthusiasm.
Stress Reduction Exercise: Find a high-energy song that most people know, such as a popular rock tune from the 70s or 80s; it should be something upbeat and maybe a little silly, too.
Keep the CD of it along with a stereo in the office, because you may want to repeat this exercise in the future. Provide each group member with soft foam objects, such as balls, bats and Frisbees. The exercise is for each member to throw the foam objects at one another for the duration of the song. Expect to have a giggling—but more relaxed—group by the end of the tune.
The greatest challenge in all types of relationships is that of effective communication. A group’s success relies on its members’ ability to communicate needs, tasks and challenges in a clear and positive manner. In addition to team building exercises, it’s helpful to host workshops on effective communication and the many facets of verbal and nonverbal behaviors.
Communication Exercise: Divide your group members into two separate groups. Provide one group with valued items, such as gift certificates, to hide in another area of the building or somewhere outdoors, and hand blindfolds to the other group.
Each person who hid something must verbally direct a blindfolded person to the hiding spot to find the item. Switch the group roles afterward so that everyone has a chance to work on communication and walk away with a reward for the activity.
Sometimes the best team building techniques are those that come from the imagination of the group. Similar problems affect all types of groups and organizations, but individual groups have a specific set of problems that only they can identify. The trick is to identify these in a way that threatens no-one.
Activity Creation Exercise: Host a group meeting and encourage members to identify the group’s barriers without criticism of any specific person. They can write these issues anonymously on a piece of paper to hand to the team leader or discuss them openly.
As the team leader notes the common theme of identified problems, the group members can brainstorm a team building activity that addresses the specific issues.
Remember to ask your team how they plan to apply lessons and methods from team building techniques to their everyday work within the group.
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