December. A time for teams to come together to celebrate the success of the year just gone; to look at the year ahead, and to recognise the shared goal.
Of course - things are not quite so easy this year.
This year, the annual Christmas party wont look quite the same as years gone by; we cannot meet in the office to laugh at each others Christmas jumpers, and secret Santa will have to take an imaginative approach this year, all as a result of the current social climate.
My daughter blames "Rona".
As a result, more of us, than not, are still working from work. We are still connecting virtually.
Team building, and team strengthening is important all year long, but even more so at Christmas.
Team building is so important; there are many benefits, form strengthening the team, to identifying individual strengths and weaknesses, to helping the team understanding each other better, which leads to better working togetherness.
Project management, without people management, will always fall short of excellence. Knowing your team, and the team knowing each other, is invaluable. Understanding who has what strengths that you can then utilise for the benefit of the project will always give you an advantage. A well orchestrated project is an integration of disciplines, and usable resource, delivered within the constraints of time and cost; knowing where to place the resource available to you is key to success, and it is through team building that we learn this.
To effectively build successful teamworking into your company, you need to negotiate the 5 stages in the team development lifecycle:
The team coming together through commitment and anticipation. Motivation is high, but effectiveness is moderate as they are unaware of each others skillset, specialisms and strengths.
Members can now challenge each other to broadcast own personal views. This can cause a drop in effectiveness, as the team negotiate this stage to find the status quo.
The team are now plateaued, able to openly exchange ideas. effectiveness is on the rise, as are principles of cooperation.
The team have now built a strong relationship. They have trust and a high stage of motivation., confident in each others abilities.
The end of the project, where motivations and cooperation can drop if not managed by a strong leader who can ensure carry over to the next project.
So, how do we ensure we are able to strengthen teams bonds; how do we encourage team effectiveness? Team building activities are key.
Team building builds trust, mitigates conflict, encourages communication and increases collaborations. It can result in more engaged employees, a boost in company culture, and can impact positively the bottom line.
It can also be good fun.
The most successful team building days are those that feel like a day away from the office. Days that are less "corporatey". Activities that provide shared experience, time together and working towards a common goal allows bonding to happen more organically.
Happiness and learning and good bed fellows. trying new things can generate good feelings amongst the team, which turns into a benefit for the business also. Pushing people slightly out of their comfort zone can force people together.
The team will always respond positively when they feel appreciated, so a day spent doing something that is viewed as somewhat a "splurge" will be an investment.
Make sure the activity you choose isnt done and then forgotten. Find ways to keep the excitement going, and motivation high, and the benefits will keep on showing.
Be warned - Its not easy. Finding activities that everyone will enjoy, and join in, is hard - as the saying goes, "you cant please everyone". Throw in the fact that we now have to conduct team building activities virtually, and you have a conundrum.
Virtual team bonding is a new concept, but one I predict will be around for a long while to come. I believe working from home is here to stay, in some form at least.
To accommodate this, we need to find ways to connect as a team, within a virtual realm.
If there is one positive I can take from 'rona, it is the ability of humans to pivot; to change and adapt. To look at the world and its current limitations, and change their offer to fit.
This means there are lots of very effective options for team building in a virtual way.
Virtual team building has its own benefits. A well thought team building exercise can boost morale, at a time when working from home, often in isolation, can be difficult. Morale, when high, creates enthusiasm and excitement, with an optimistic outlook on team effort. It can help eradicate the loneliness that threatens to impact, by presenting an opportunity for the team to reconnect. In fact, 40% of home workers say they have felt lonely whilst working form home due to Covid. That is a huge percentage, so presenting opportunity to break the stigma and encourage bond building will be appreciated.
It offers a focus that isn't just work. We often find ourselves in a routine - wake, work, eat , sleep, repeat. Having something else to look forward to, to remember and discuss, can add an injection of positivity to lives, and have a huge positive impact on mental wellbeing. A step towards a healthier work / life balance.
We know that team building increases productivity, but this is even more impactful when working from home, when concentration doesn't come easy. Home presents many distractions, so reminding the team of the common goals and encouraging working together can be rewarding.
Of course, there's always the added bonus of versatility - a virtual event can be done anywhere and, almost, anytime, and is often a cheaper alternative to physical events. You'll get to know each other too and as a result be able to better manage each staff member.
Ive uncovered lots of options for virtual team building - truthfully i was very impressed with just how many options are available, again, with credit to the many companies out there that have pivoted to offer a virtual solution,
Here are some of the ones that stood out:
Virtual escape the room - these are available both paid and for free, at varying levels of difficulty. The Escape Game Remote Adventures
Clue Murder Mystery - here's an example of a virtual murder mystery.
QuizBreaker is an online icebreaker quiz game that helps remote teams connect & engage in a fun way
Let’s Roam Virtual Team Builders are very popular interactive challenges that include trivia, fact or fib, costume party, riddles and more.
A virtual scavenger hunt can bring the team together Scavify
Treasure Mountain - a game for teams to solve riddles and challenges, competing against each other.
I'm tasked with arranging team building throughout December for a client of mine. I'm managing a team of 6, all who work from different corners of the country, one who is overseas, so a little imagination is needed, but I'm determined to make it a December enjoyable (and profitable). We've worked hard to adapt, and truly deserve recognition, and the opportunity to celebrate the success of the year together.