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Shireen Qudosi

What You Need to Cover in Your Next Team Building Pow-Wow Session

Jun 19 2013, 06:00 AM by

Gone are the days of team development sessions, wasted days and half days sitting in a semi circle talking about team work, playing silly useless games to encourage team building. No one is happier to see those days in the past than your team members. No one is more disappointed than team building ‘consultants’ who no longer have the opportunity to charge exorbitant amounts of fees for monkey-like activities.

If you want your employees to get along and develop rapport outside the office, then you’ll have to actually host a fun day out during office hours. Please note keywords, ‘during office hours’ – anything beyond office hours and you’re reinforcing employee hatred for you. They’ll bond all right, but over what a slave driver you are for making them have fun and hang out with people they don’t like…and not get paid for it. There is a better way and here’s how:

Structuring Your Employees
That said, team training can and should also happen within the business day to day. How you organize your employees can make for break their team synthesis. For example, setting up workers in a factory-assembled line of cubbies is not only divisive but also gives shyer employees the opportunity to “hide”, often feeling invaded upon when someone comes to their work area or when they’re asked to leave it and report elsewhere. There’s no flow of communication and no openness is such design.

Workspace Design Magazine understands this, with a recent article on really simple, easy to incorporate in-office features that move beyond just aesthetics to team functionality. They recommended writeable walls, which tvdesign’s Don Ricker adds, “fosters genuine collaboration with a sense of play and fun, which in turn, opens the floodgates of creativity while serving as a potent morale booster.” While a writeable wall isn’t an entirely new idea, having them in central spaces is. You can bring in a writeable whiteboard wall as a space divider, which when paired with lounge-like couches create a much more open conversational feel that gets people honest about ideas rather than remaining wall-flowers afraid of giving the wrong answer (as demonstrated by classroom environments where students/employees feel like they’re being graded on answers).

Next up were communal spaces where the same principles of open flow spaces apply. Creating a central working area, whether a lounge or a library, offers the feeling of togetherness and collaboration versus individualism. This is a trademark preference of a younger generation workforce that want to remain tied to a collective even if not necessarily part of it.
Raising the Collaborative IQ
TIME Magazine believes that “a group’s intelligence emerges from the interactions that go on within a group. A team’s intelligence can be measured, and like an individual’s IQ score, it can accurately predict the team’s performance on a wide variety of tasks.” They argue that the smartest groups are made up of people that can read between the lines. This means being ‘socially sensitive’ and picking up on nonverbal cues. Not only does this thwart miscommunication it also super conducts communication itself.

In addition to sharing the proverbial conch and figuring out the nitty gritty of project execution, group IQ can also be raised when social bonds are forged outside the workplace and/or formal meetings. But really, additional bonding time reinforces the idea that group members pick up on social clues. The final recommendation is to have a group be open to external influences, which means “team members regularly take off on their own to explore and discover.” Exploration and discovery not only facilitate creativity but they also keep the overall group sharp and on trend.

Posted in Tips & Resources, Cool Stuff for Small Businesses

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