Employees are a business's most valuable asset. As a business owner, you should recognize their importance and find ways to connect with your team — and help them connect with each other. Team building is a great way to achieve this. We interviewed experts on why team building is so important and ways you can achieve it.
What is team building?
According to Ashley Cox, PHR, SHRM-CP, and founder of and leadership development expert for SproutHR, team building includes "activities to help a group of people develop greater interpersonal skills and work together collaboratively." They are intended to strengthen bonds and improve communication and performance, she added.
"Effective team building needn’t cost loads of money and take place over a full weekend, although many companies do find this useful, especially if they have hundreds of employees," added Frances Geoghegan, managing director of Healing Holidays.
Such activities can range from challenges such as Escape Rooms to fundraisers like 5K runs — any effort to bring workers together without the stress of work and deadlines.
Why is it so important?
Without your team, you wouldn't be able to accomplish nearly as many tasks or grow your client base. Don't view your employees as replaceable; rather, learn more about their personalities, quirks and interests. This will show them you care about them as people, not just workers, and will increase their loyalty to your brand.
Not only will it improve your employer-employee relationship it will also strengthen bonds between your colleagues, which is vital to positive collaboration and teamwork.
"Team building is important because it helps the people on a team learn more about one another, appreciate similarities and differences, understand each other's roles better and develop skills to work together more effectively," added Cox. "It makes working in a team more human, and less machine-like."
Just like on a sports team, you want each member to get along well and acknowledge each other's strengths and weakness, so they can work together accordingly. Collaboration will be more seamless if everyone is comfortable with each other.
Additionally, the company culture will feel more welcoming and supportive. Imagine walking into a room filled with silent colleagues who keep to themselves and don't give you the time of day; now, imagine working with colleagues you also consider friends or acquaintances, who you can enjoy grabbing lunch or having a casual conversation with. it makes a major difference.
"It’s amazing how much of a positive impact a well-functioning team can have on the mood of an office," said Geoghegan. "If everything flows harmoniously, it helps to alleviate the stress and strain of everyone — from the employees carrying out the work to the managers who are responsible for them."
Arvind Raichur, CEO of MrOwl, added that team building has lasting positive effects on business.
"It can help build morale, accelerate growth and increase retention," he said. "Team work is important because it empowers team members to own their roles in working toward the same collective goals regardless of department or level. By continuing to improve this team ethic, employees can feel a sense of importance and pride in what is accomplished as a unit."
Ways to achieve it
If you're looking to improve your team building efforts, try these simple ways to do so.
Start on the first day
Don't wait for the perfect moment to gather your team. As soon as you recruit new talent, plan icebreaker activities so everyone can get to know each other right away, illuminating any discomfort that might lurk among team members.
Also, make time in your schedule to speak with the new worker one-on-one. Not only will it benefit you to understand your workers, but it will also help bridge the gap that often exists with new employees.
"Take the new team member out to lunch or coffee early on and connect with them on a personal level," said Raichur. "Take the time to find out about their interests and hobbies. Learning who employees are and what they care about is a crucial step some companies don’t take. It lets your employees know that you consider them a part of the team and that you’re invested in their success."
Personalize your efforts
You should cater your team building approach to each employee's personality type by using science-based personality assessments and playing to individual strengths. This will personalize your team building experience and increase your understanding of every worker, making you a better leader and helping your team grow in the right direction — one that benefits each person.
Build an open company culture
Trust is crucial in team building. If your employees don't feel you're open and honest with them, they'll likely avoid asking questions or voicing concerns. Transparency works both ways; and as the leader, you need to be the one to establish it from the start.
Raichur said that he encourages his employees to speak up and share ideas at company retreats and meetings. He also is transparent with his team about company goals and the intended direction of his brand. Ensuring communication is open on both ends will reduce tension, misunderstandings and anxiety among workers, and increase respect and loyalty among your team.