Blog by Tracy Stock, CSP
With the pandemic predominantly in our rear-view mirror and most companies bringing employees back into the workplace—either full-time or in a hybrid format—building camaraderie and figuring out how to operate as a cohesive team again can seem uncomfortable at best, and at worst—quite daunting.
Yesterday I had the distinct honor of leading a team building workshop for a local firm. They wanted me to deliver a program that would help demonstrate their commitment of investing in their people, create a welcoming culture as they head back into the workplace, and have some fun reconnecting with familiar colleagues—while introducing themselves to new, unknown faces, too. It was a huge success! Teams were engaged, laughing and having tons of fun—while unbeknownst to them—were also participating in “structured practice” for real-world situations they are confronted with on a daily basis in the workplace.
Clearly, this company understands the importance of team building. Many do not. Let’s compare it to baseball, for a moment. With baseball season now in full swing, baseball players practice together to become stronger, more cohesive teams. Because without the dedicated time, energy and effort put forth in practice, successfully executing during a big game would likely prove to be an exercise in futility, with a win being almost an impossibility. The same is true for your employees. Just as baseball practice helps players systematically develop a range of skills related to their athletic ability, team building helps employees enhance their skills across various aspects of teamwork—such as planning, communication, delegation, trust, creativity, resource management, and decision-making, to name a few.
In addition to creating a more unified company culture and enhanced morale, there are definite halo benefits of team building, too, including:
- It strengthens trust in low-risk situations so it’s ready to come into play when the stakes are higher.
- It generates greater acceptance of ideas and helps to resolve conflicts.
- It helps employees feel valued for their ideas and contributions.
- It enhances motivation and encourages productive problem-solving.
- It unites people and allows employees to get excited about work again.
- It helps employees unlock their creative and learning potential.
- It encourages team members to express themselves authentically.
By this point, you’re probably very intrigued as to what team building workshop I led. The wildly successful program was entitled, “The Marshmallow Challenge.” This powerful, remarkably fun and instructive design team building workshop enhances a team’s ability to generate fresh ideas, build rapport, effectively collaborate and integrate prototyping—all of which lie at the heart of effective innovation. The lessons learned are universal. Following the activity, teams were asked to reflect upon the experience and share aloud their findings related to communication, decision-making, teamwork, etc.
The goal of The Marshmallow Challenge was simple: Build the tallest free-standing structure in 18 minutes using only the four supplied materials, with the marshmallow needing to be on top. The 13 teams of six-people each (with most participating in-person and the balance engaged virtually across multiple locations) had three winning teams. And in addition to earning some bragging rights, each person on the winning teams earned a fantastic prize!
- Third place winners each received Succulent Smores—including chocolate-filled marshmallows, graham crackers and Hershey chocolate bars. How fitting, right?
- Second place winners each received a signed copy of my latest book entitled, The One Choice Rule: Transform Your Life and Work by Changing Your Mindset and Behavior.
- First place winners each received a fabulous gift-basket! They were able to pick from seven uniquely designed baskets filled with high-quality goodies!
So if your job is the big game, then team building activities are your practice sessions. And if your team or organization are seeking a home run and ready to step up to the plate, connect with me today!