Ensuring that your collaborative work team(s) get along should be a top priority for businesses. Employees that feel comfortable and confident around one another are able to work more efficiently. They can take stronger stances, feel empowered to think creatively, and feel more enjoyment in working. Forming teams to tackle problems, rather than individuals, has scientifically backed results. Dr. Patrick Laughlin a researcher at the University of Illinois has founded evidence in support of teamwork.
“We found that groups of size three, four, and five outperformed the best individuals,” -Dr. Patrick.
There’s also evidence supporting the importance of work team(s) for innovation. A report from McKinsey & Company showed that teams made up of members from diverse backgrounds (gender, age, ethnicity, etc.) perform better by up to 35%. They are also more creative and have more distinct perspectives on issues, which leads to better problem solving.
“Diversity is a well-documented pathway to unlocking new opportunities, overcoming new challenges, and gaining new insights.” -Frans Johansson, author of The Medici Effect.
We want every company to be able to reap the benefits of teamwork as best they can, but its more than just putting teams together. The teams have to be cohesive, willing to work together, and comfortable around each other. It’s not always an easy endeavour. To help, we’ve put some of our favourite (and not forced or boring) team exercises below. Starting with the smaller teams, and moving to the biggest.
1. An escape room
An escape room is the perfect brain-teasing environment for a work team to be in. It can get the whole team thinking without having them feel like it’s just another workday. Testing their skills in an escape room is a greater way to establish patterns of communication and see the dynamics of the team. Leadership roles can be naturally formed, and each person will reveal their strengths while solving the puzzle at hand. By the end of the escape room, the work team will really feel like a team, and have a better understanding of one another. This is perfect for smaller teams of 6-12 people.
2. Shark tank
It’s how it sounds — teams come in with an idea and they pitch it just like in the show. This is one that can really boost the creativity of a team and give them an opportunity to shine. In order for this to work best you’ll want to form several teams to come in to compete. Consider having a panel of judges or putting the ideas up to employee vote. This can be a quick activity, or you can drag it out throughout the week. Give each team 2 hours to come up with their wackiest idea and a quick presentation or give them a week to figure out everything from specifics to scripts. May the best team win!
3. Make a team playlist
This is another exercise best done with smaller teams. Have your team set up a collaborative Spotify playlist or create something together on YouTube. Each member can add in their favourite songs, talk about their favourite genre with the group, and create a team sound. The great thing about this exercise is that no two teams will be the same. The uniqueness of each playlist helps to establish a team identity, much like a team name would, but a bit more unique. This exercise gives members of the team a great chance to learn more about one another. It helps to establish creative thinking, collaboration, and empathy. People get pretty passionate about their playlists, so this is an easy way to get new teams talking.
4. Leave-it-at-work lunch
This one isn’t so much an exercise, as it is a standard practise to start incorporating in your workplace. The idea is simple — at lunch you can’t talk about work. When employees head out to lunch they should leave their work thoughts at the desk. This forces team members to get to know each other organically, instead of reverting back to easy workplace topics. Employees might find it challenging at first, but after a while they will find there’s lots to talk about.
5. Hold a paint n’ sip
This isn’t the first time we’ve talked about hosting a paint n’ sip on the CiVS blog. When we talked about boosting employee satisfaction, paint n’ sips were one of our top suggestions for encouraging creativity. It’s a great way to get creative juices flowing and has the added benefit of being a lot of fun. A glass of wine, beer, or prosecco can help employees unwind and get out of any social rut they may have been in. A fun activity like this is a great way to get work team(s) talking in a stress-free environment. Laughing over brush mistakes and sharing ideas on what to paint are some great early talking points.
6. Team movie night
This ones great as it can be done in person or online. A zoom team movie night can be a great way to round people together for an easy viewing experience. If you opt to host one in person, you can easily boost morale by providing popcorn, chips and/or drinks. This is great for larger groups and is especially good for new teams who may be nervous talking for extended periods. A movie night offers the perfect opportunity for teams to spend quality time together, without straining conversation. Once the movies wrapped up, everyone will have easy talking points to discuss as well. This ones a definite no-brainer.
Which activities are right for you?
Today, there’s lots of team building exercises available. Unfortunately, not all are universally loved. Many companies today are plagued by sunk costs on unenjoyed team activities. Team retreats, meditation and camping all come with a price attached, but is that price worth it? It’s hard to say. With the right team, these activities could make a world of difference and add a lot to team morale. With a different team, it might feel like a complete drag. A CiVS employee survey can help measure employee satisfaction and see how necessary these activities may be. It can also help you realise which activities will work best, and which ones your teams will love. Think about adding some team-building activity questions to your next survey with us.
If that sounds interesting, you can contact CiVS to setup a survey at (08) 6314 0580 or firstname.lastname@example.org.