Creative Ways to Build Team Spirit

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When you hear the phrase “team-building,” you probably imagine heading out of the office to run a ropes course or falling backwards to let your co-workers catch you. If those ideas seem overdone or just aren’t right for your business, not to worry! Today, there are more creative team-building opportunities than ever. With minimal planning, you can make them work for you.

Why plan a team-building event in the first place? It’s simple — when your employees work well together, it’s good for them, good for your customers and good for business. Studies show effective team-building events help improve communication, foster positive morale, motivate employees to be proactive and boost productivity.

People who like their co-workers and employers stay in a job longer than those who don’t. They are more likely to help each other, improving workflow and catching possible mistakes before they cost you money. They are typically happier on the job, which means customers walk into a pleasant atmosphere. And happy customers turn into repeat customers.

So, what can you do to get the guys in the shop to interact and have fun in ways that will benefit them and the work they do?

One idea is to plan activities that fit the unique makeup of your team. If you run a lube shop and your employees are mostly men, you might choose team-building events that invite competition. That can be anything from a casual game of Frisbee golf to a formal company sports team. You might also consider an outdoor activity that is native to your area, such as snowmobiling in Colorado or fly-fishing in Missouri.

The activity doesn’t have to be sports-related to be competitive though, especially if your team is more cerebral or includes people who can’t participate in physical competition. Felicity Metzler, digital marketing assistant at 4WheelOnline.com, said her marketing department does a regular team trivia contest.

“One of our managers will pull up a trivia app on his phone and divide our department into teams,” Metzler says. “We have to work together to get the highest score. The first place team in the department gets to leave 30 minutes early. The remaining teams have a powerful discussion about ideas for the company moving forward. It has brought our department closer together. We now have a great team that respects and enjoys the company of one another.”

Something as simple as an evening out at the local double-A ball team in your town is a great way to get out of the office and into a situation that allows everyone to chat, eat some food and share some laughs. But you don’t have to leave the office. If your company has the space, put in an air hockey or foosball table and schedule a competition.

Check out local businesses to see what unique options they have to offer. The Escape, a live locked-room mystery game with branches in Tulsa and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, hosts team-building events all the time. Groups of two to six people gather for an hour in their assigned locked room (there are several to choose from) to figure out the clues and make their escape. If you don’t solve the mystery, no worries — The Escape’s staff will rescue you and your team. It’s a relatively inexpensive way to foster communication and have fun with your co-workers.

Some final tips for planning a successful team-building activity:

1.         Make sure it encourages cooperation and communicating.

2.         Keep the games safe, ethical, fair and fun.

3.         Ask your employees for ideas and let them participate in the event planning.

4.         Whoever is acting as the facilitator should be prepared ahead of time. Have instructions ready. Try the activity yourself first, so you can later coach others.

5.         Groups of three tend to be an ideal size. They add more dynamics to the problem-solving efforts than teams of two, but generate less drama and leadership challenges than teams of four or more.

6.         Don’t allow behaviors that make someone the butt of the joke or the scapegoat. Make sure to foster the idea that everyone is included and everyone is respected. 

The next time you create the crew’s schedule. It might be time to schedule in some time for fun and teambuilding.  

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