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What is teambuilding?
Teambuilding is a collective process often based around doing various activities or collaborating on tasks to enhance social relations and define roles within a team. The goal of teambuilding is to better interpersonal relationships as this, above all, helps improve productivity and overall satisfaction with one another and the jobs they do.
Early research on teambuilding came about in the nineteen-twenties. Known as the Hawthorne Studies, this experimental managerial strategy focused on the socio-psychological aspect of human behavior in organizations. What they discovered is “people ” as later publications claimed. Until this time, workers were treated more like machines. Having the opportunity to speak freely about one’s job helped them to see eye to eye with supervisors and fellow workers. This created a highly productive environment, well beyond monetary incentives.
Why is teambuilding in a small business important?
Of all organizational activities, studies show team development to be the most effective strategy for improving organizational performance.
Jack and Marsha owned a small business with eighteen employees. Marsha prided herself as being tough as nails, someone to be respected and feared. To make small personal gains, staff kowtowed to Marsha, and she intern pitted them against each other favoring the few who met her demands.
Jack felt developing respect, a positive attitude, and keys to improving the business came by allowing employees stewardship over their jobs. With staff making decisions on how to perform tasks in their own unique way, a sense of ownership developed and for a while it helped the business grow.
At weekly staff meetings, the conflict in management styles grew apparent when employees began to complain that the monetary incentives controlled by Marsha were unfair. To remedy the conflict, Jack relied on anecdotal stories and motivation exercises to engage the staff.
Marsha despised the meetings and argued with Jack over allowing the “underlings” to have a say in how the business should operate. Like children caught between divorcing parents the work environment eventually fractured.
In Jack and Marsha’s business, the closest exercise to a teambuilding experience was the weekly cleaning day where all were expected to oversee individual tasks until the work was done. Of course, this was Jack’s idea, Marsh claimed, because he was too cheap to pay someone to clean.
Other than the business owner’s names, the story is true and an example of what often happens with conflicting management styles. Had this company created a teambuilding experience where the management and staff worked together and helped the business grow, the company may have survived.
What makes teambuilding successful?
Crucial elements for effective teambuilding require the following:
- Management to show a personal interest in each person’s achievement.
- The manager takes pride in achievements made by the team.
- Leaders should work together with the team to develop stewardship or responsible management while letting them set their own conditions of work.
- Managers should faithfully report achievements made (acknowledgement).
- Each team member needs to develop a sense of pride in their own achievements and find satisfaction through outsiders showing interest in their work.
- The team should not feel pressured to make changes.
- Should any changes be made, the team should be consulted first.
- Successful teams develop confidence and a shared honesty.
How do I start teambuilding?
Team Building starts with setting goals with emphasis on clear objectives. Set both team and individual goals together with defining factors for success or failure. Utilize incremental tests or use charting to track progress along the way.
Clarify duties and roles: Defining roles among the team reduces ambiguity. It also creates a sense of independence and value as goals are reached. Had Marsha and Jack decided who was in charge and then each fulfilled their roles without cross-communication, they might have saved their business.
Identify problems: In the development of openness and confidence problem solving is necessary.
Communicate: Giving and receiving support builds up the team and lessens interpersonal conflicts. Use the team leader or a facilitator to guide the conversation and develop mutual trust and openness.
I only have 1 or 2 employees; how can I team build?
Anything a small business can do to boost morale and create a sense of inclusiveness is good for overall team strengthening. Here are some ideas for teambuilding with a smaller team:
- Do a collaboration activity that requires each person to add or enhance the work of another.
- Practice resolving an ongoing company issue or puzzlement by utilizing problem-solving skills as a team.
- Get to know each other with something as simple as telling “campfire” stories. This can help break down barriers and build trust and confidence.
- Do an in-office trivia game that relies on observance of fellow employees to meet correct answers.
The internet is full of suggestions for teambuilding events. To stave off eyerolls and racing for the exits, choose things of interest that are fun.
Want more ideas on how to build cohesive teams?
We have a fantastic series going on RIGHT NOW called The Building Blocks of Cohesive Teams. It’s not to late to attend this FREE online course and there are still several sessions left to attend! Click the link above to register.
For additional information and ideas on how to team build in your small business, or for fresh, new ideas to help your team bond, please contact us at the Small Business Development Center – SBDC – Serving Paris area: Lamar, Hunt, Hopkins, Delta, and Red River counties.