I recently read an editorial that concluded “team building” events like social gatherings, rope courses and such are momentary enjoyments and do nothing to build a team.
While I can see the point about their temporary nature, I disagree with the conclusion that they don’t benefit teams. We are human beings first, and by our very nature, relationships matter.
The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. ~ Aristotle
Given the choice of collaborating on a project with someone you know and like or someone you’ve only seen across the table at a meeting, which would you choose?
Perhaps more to the point: if you had a differing viewpoint from each of these people, how would you handle it?
The people who make up teams work more effectively when they have good relationships with one another. In Google’s Project Aristotle, this showed up as part of what they called “group dynamics: I feel safe expressing divergent opinions to the team.” Basically, we’re more comfortable taking risks with people we know.
Chances are you would feel more comfortable discussing a different opinion with someone you know better. Healthy disagreement in the workplace is good for innovation as well as managing risk.
Play Is for Adults Too!
It’s often been said that play is the work of children. Why can’t it be part of our work too? Think back to some of your best work memories: now tell me you don’t feel more fond of colleagues you associate with enjoyable memories.
Showing your relaxed side helps the team see their leaders as human beings too.
This summer, make some time for you and your team to get to know one another a bit better. You’ll reap the results long after the smell of barbecue has faded!
People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing. ~ Dale Carnegie
Summer Fun Ideas
As you plan, remember to consider:
- People’s preferences and personalities: it should not be another form of work for them or be uncomfortable.
- Organizational culture: is it competitive? Is it about giving back? Silly or more serious?
- Capabilities: be inclusive of all team members.
Thinking of those items and your team, decide whether it will be a team thing during office hours or a family event.
There’s no right and wrong – just things that fit better. In fact, it also doesn’t have to be planned. It could also be spontaneous. My most memorable office “party” was an extended thank you lunch that included some wine, cabs back to the office and an afternoon of Pictionary. Tons of laughter and bonding with no advance planning – that I knew of at least!
Here are some other ideas:
- Lunch or dinner on the boss
- A scavenger hunt in pairs or smaller teams
- Boat ride – maybe even with whale watching or a picnic included
- Sports event – either as spectators or participants (think corporate Olympics or silly Olympics)
- Family picnic with games and bouncy castle
- Potluck or a competitive cook-off
- Barbecue or even a breakfast event – flip the hierarchy too! Have top executives serve everyone else
- Open house/take the family to work day
- Charity event, like a Habitat for Humanity build
Enjoy the rest of summer!