12 Jul 5 ways to make the most out of team bonding
Team-building exercises can be a powerful way to unite a group, develop strengths, address weaknesses and have some fun. But all too often, they are not used to best effect.
So having just returned with the team from a successful residential training course in Limoges, France, here’s my tips to making the most from your team bonding activity:
Conquer your fears
Conquering your fears head on is vital both in life and at work. We have to overcome challenges everyday, where support and encouragement are fundamental to our success. What better way to face your fears than stand on precariously perched platforms and suspended logs 50ft in the air, especially when you have a severe fear of heights?
You may be thinking ‘really!?’ But actually, yes. You can learn a lot as a team when you face a series of seriously high obstacles, from the importance of communication and guidance, to practicing your coercive skills when a team member freezes midway through an obstacle, and the necessity of a plan B – in this case a supervisor that can come and rescue you when you get stuck midway down the zip wire. Facing your fears forces you to place your trust in others and pull together to make sure no one gets left behind – and the sense of team achievement when you’re done makes it all worthwhile.
Learn something new
As Greek Philosopher, Heraclitus so wisely said, “the only constant in life is change.” That’s why, it’s so important to keep learning. We need to constantly learn and re-learn not only new topics and techniques, but important life skills – how to write, how to interact with people, how to do our jobs.
Whether it’s learning a new language, recipe, lengthy words (which you are unlikely to ever use again), or something new about a place or each other, team bonding is the perfect opportunity to practice expanding your mind – and it can bring you all closer together. Even the silliest of questions like ‘if you could only eat one vegetable for the rest of your life, what would it be?’ can help you learn a lot about one another; albeit maybe just that your colleague has a tomato allergy.
Do something silly
There is a lot of research out there that shows the mind is like muscle in the way it becomes fatigued after sustained use and needs a rest period. A team bonding trip is a great opportunity to take a break from the daily grind, spark creativity and you’ll probably find – once you get back to the office – it has boosted productivity too.
Doing something silly is a great way to take your mind off work. Whether it’s playing a silly game, swimming in a lake (supervised by lifeguards of course) or chuckling at a colleague who is stuck up a tree. As they say, laughing is good for the soul.
Share part of your culture
Understanding different cultures and the various ways people do things is important in any job; as a marketing agency with international clients perhaps for none more than us.
Since there is no better way to learn about a culture than to immerse yourself in it, there’s a lot to be said for holding your team bonding activities abroad. And when that involves sunshine, a slower pace of life, and plenty of cheese and wine, I’m sure complaints from the staff will be few and far between.
To make the most from team bonding, however, you should not only experience another culture together, but share your own. From an assortment of card games, to a wide array of food we all have different backgrounds and lifestyles, especially when one or more of the team originate from another country.
And there can be some great benefits from sharing these with each other, not least some yummy food (in our case a scrumptious Chinese feast – thanks Carolyn!)
Work in synch
No team bonding session would be complete without a specific team activity that involves good communication, co-operation and co-ordination. Like canoeing.
Just like at work, it requires everyone to have certain roles and responsibilities. A leader is needed to direct the rowing and steer the boat, someone has to take the right and the other the left. You have to understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses and adapt your strategy accordingly. You learn very quickly when rowing that having one strong person isn’t always to your advantage, you can end up simply going round in circles or, as we learnt the hard way, end up in the river.
It also teaches you the importance of listening to others and not being overconfident – heed the advice of the experts. If they tell you to attach your sunglasses with a piece of string, take their advice; otherwise they will end up on the riverbed, as mine did!