Business Owners Build Success Atop Strong Team Bonding

When employees work together, the company grows stronger. A team-building activity can be an effective way to boost performance.
Business Owners Build Success Atop Strong Team Bonding
Judy Kneiszel

In football, the quarterback often gets credit for a win and takes the blame for a loss. But fans know games aren't won or lost by the quarterback alone. The whole team contributes.

It's the same in business. Success or failure is laid at the feet of the owner or CEO, when, in reality, it's a team effort. Your name might be on the trucks, the building, the letterhead and the paychecks, but your team is out representing you every day. If you have a strong team, each member contributes to the company's success.

BONDING IS THE GOAL

In a company where teamwork is valued, planning and problem-solving are done cooperatively. Team building can improve communica-tion between employees and departments, creating an atmosphere where individuals are motivated to participate in that planning and problem-solving.

Team building, in a nutshell, is about bonding. It pushes employees to get to know each other better, trust each other more, and work together for the good of the company. A strong team is usually made up of people who have bonded over something, because people who know each other personally are more understanding of each other. If a friend is struggling with a task, a person will usually jump in to help. If it's a co-worker whose name they don't know, a person is more likely to keep their head down or walk away.

Team building requires taking time out of the regular routine to participate in activities designed to boost morale and encourage cohesion among co-workers. But don't roll your eyes and shake your head. It doesn't have to involve fire walking, dramatic skits or rock climbing.

Legendary Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz knew how to build a team, and is attributed with saying, "Ability is what you are capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it." The goal of team building is to improve attitudes and inspire motivation so people perform up to their ability for the good of the team.

MAKE THE TIME

A team-building event is not just a meeting where you talk and employees listen. On the other hand, it's more than a company party. It's somewhere in between. Here are some tips on organizing a successful team-building event:

Plan ahead. Pick a date and time for the event when it will disrupt day-to-day activity the least. Your mid-winter slow season would be ideal. Don't make people come in special on a weekend or day off for the event, or they'll have a bad attitude about it from the start. Instead, have everyone knock off early on what's typically your slowest day of the week.

Decide whether to hold the event on site or off site. Sometimes a change of environment stimulates thinking and enhances productivity.

Promote it early. Don't just spring the idea on people the day of the event. Do a little pre-event marketing to intrigue people. Warn them if they need to dress any differently than normal for the event or if they need to clear their schedules of regular work for a few hours.

Make sure to choose an activity everyone can participate in. Don't plan something like paintball or laser tag battles if you have workers who are physically unable to participate.

Keep it simple at first. If this is your first attempt at team building, just play a few getting-to-know-you games, and serve snacks and beverages. A quick online search will yield dozens of these icebreaker games for groups of all sizes aimed at loosening people up and helping them get to know each other better.

Know what you want to achieve. An effective team-building activity is one in which people have to work or play together, often with people they do not ordinarily interact with. Skills required usually include communication, negotiation, leadership and motivation. Scavenger hunt-type games work well, as do trivia contests when people are divided into teams that have to work together.

Get feedback. Ask participants to fill out a brief questionnaire after the team-building activity is over. Ask them if they had fun. Did the activity resolve any workplace issues? Did people get to know each other better? Would they recommend future team-building activities? What would they do differently next time?

Be observant. Over the days and weeks following the team-building activity, try to determine if people are interacting differently. Do they seem to be working together more effectively? If, over time, people do not see any change or improvement as a result of team-building events, they may consider them a waste of time, so make note of any progress you see.

TAKE TEAM BUILDING INTO OVERTIME

Don't be discouraged if you don't see a lot of change after your first team-building event. A great team isn't built in a day. Make your team-building efforts ongoing.

First, be an example of a good team player. If you really want to have a strong team, you can't control every aspect of your company. So don't try to do everything yourself. Hand the ball off once in awhile. On the other hand, don't demand others to do things you would never do yourself. Seeing the boss get his hands dirty occasionally also helps foster an attitude of teamwork.

When possible, continue to build relationships and encourage bonding by assigning unlikely partners to work on special projects together. This will help them understand each other's jobs and personalities. Assign a team of people to plan a company luncheon together or have teams compete in raising funds for a local charity.

Also, recognize teamwork when you see it and celebrate "wins" companywide, acknowledging the contribution everyone makes to the successes. Remember, the quarterback isn't solely responsible for his team's losses, but he doesn't win games alone either.



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