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Team Building : Beyond Trust Falls

by Britten Studios  

It’s no secret that building a team of “rockstar employees” is arguably the most important and most difficult part of any successful business.  Finding great employees can be a challenge — getting said group of rockstars to work together can be even more difficult (just ask The Pixies, The Eagles, Guns N’ Roses, Blink-182, The Police, or Oasis).

Solid team building is one way to ensure that employees will be creating epic ballads long into the future.  

Here’s the thing about team building though: it’s got an unwarranted bad rep.  Just mentioning a team building retreat or event to your staff generally elicits sighs, eye rolls, and bad jokes about “trust falls.” However, team building isn’t really about corporate retreats or half-day seminars.

The building blocks for maintaining a strong team should be an integral part of your company’s culture.  Things like retreats and team building exercises are great from time-to-time, but when teamwork is engrained into the fabric of your organization, things like trust, teamwork, and problem solving become second nature to your team.

Here are just a few examples of how team building can be weaved into the fabric of your company:

Team-based goals

Make it worthwhile and rewarding for your employees to work together and achieve group success. The act of working toward a common and rewarding goal can galvanize a team and create new levels of coordination, teamwork, and technique sharing. For instance, a traditional commissioned-based sales team with individual goals also benefit from having a team goal. 

Here’s why:

It becomes difficult for Richard, a 15-year sales veteran (and his huge book-of-business) to simply ignore the struggles of his new co-worker Aidan.  There’s incentive for Richard to impart his wisdom upon his teammate because Aidan is a critical component to achieving the team’s goal. In the meantime, Richard may discover Aidan’s shared love of competitive dog grooming, thus creating a bond between co-workers. Here we have a win-win for the company as Richard and Aidan both become more invested in the success of each other, the team, and the company! (On a side note, all characters in this example are fictitious. Any resemblance to real competitive dog grooming enthusiasts, living or dead, is purely coincidental).

Create a TEAM of winners


It’s common for businesses to create “winner takes all” incentive programs to drive productivity. In a nutshell, the person with the most sales, leads, or clients is the big winner.  There’s no doubt that the “rockstar” overachiever should receive recognition, but they’re probably not the only one that deserves an “attaboy.” Why not create a winning feeling for employees by creating more winners more often? Why not reward teams for working together and achieving something bigger than any individual can do on their own? 

At a minimum, dedicate some time and resources on employees that didn’t win the big prize. If you don’t play your cards right, you could accidentally create an entire team of “losers,” instead of a team of aspiring winners. There’s a reason why you keep your other employees around, don’t forget to show them why.

Spread the love 

Nothing helps create a sense of togetherness and accomplishment more than making a difference in your community. Charity events can be a fantastic way to build camaraderie and have the added benefit of making the world a better place. Giving your employees the opportunity to go out into the community helps build teamwork and gives them the reward of helping those less fortunate. 

Even if your business isn’t in a position to participate in volunteer work, there are countless other ways to be charitable as a team. Many charitable organizations sponsor annual toy, coat, and can drives, and on top of that, most charities also accept donations. The key is developing internal programs with goals that work for your company and allow employees to get excited about achieving something together.

Building great teams isn’t just about trust falls and seminars, it’s about creating an environment that encourages and incentives people to work together, to trust one another, and to achieve something bigger than any one person could achieve on their own.