When you’re in an executive role at a business, leading your team can be one of the most difficult challenges you face. With so many personalities to manage, strengths to consider, and goals to keep in mind, it can be tough to know how to motivate your employees and invite collaboration. One way to make this happen is by giving renewed focus to team-building activities that actually work. Here’s our take on a few we’ve enjoyed.
Go from Formal to Informal
The tendency with managing a team is often to work on the relationships while in the office. After all, this is when everybody is already in the same location and has opportunities to work side by side. But, it turns out that team building outside of the office can actually work even better to strengthen relationships and boost overall morale. Even though your employees are busy and have their own lives outside of work, we’ve found that scheduling one event outside the office per quarter doesn’t interfere with employees’ time outside of work. This won’t overload their schedules and yet will keep external events consistent. Hold these events in a different venue and environment than the office to help to loosen everyone up and create a lighter, more social atmosphere that can lead to friendships and trust between coworkers.
Play a fun group game that will keep everyone in the same place and able to chat (like bowling or a ping-pong tournament)
Participate in a philanthropic event (like giving food to the homeless or doing a 5K charity walk altogether)
Try a new pursuit as a group (like rock climbing at a gym or taking a painting class)
When you’re looking to strengthen and grow the team you have in place, it’s important to recognize the positive qualities that are already in front of you. For instance, if your sales department is already great with acquiring new leads, challenge them to work together and use those skills to come up with new and creative strategies to nurture their leads.
Another idea is to pair up members of your staff based on complementary strengths and goals. If an account manager has a goal of keeping more customers long-term, and another account manager already has a stellar track record of customer loyalty and longevity, get them together. Ask the latter to share their tips and insights with the former, so they can learn and grow. Be sure not to elevate one person and put down the other, though. You can avoid that type of uncomfortable dynamic by then flipping the script and asking the ‘mentee’ to help the ‘mentor’ with a different aspect of their role in which they excel and the other could use some tips or a new approach.
Aim for Honest, Constructive Feedback
If you’re too harsh with your employees when something goes wrong, they’ll start to feel scared, threatened, or resentful. But if you’re too lenient and find yourself sugarcoating the truth, you’re not doing your business or your employees any favors. Work to create an environment in which honesty is accepted and encouraged, while never sacrificing tact.
A good way to start this is by setting the example, starting with you and the leadership team. If you messed up on something, make a point of admitting it to the rest of the group and telling them how you’re going to make it right. Invite the rest of your executive team to model giving one another constructive feedback in meetings, too, so your employees can see it in action and feel comfortable doing the same with their peers.
For example, the head of your customer service department may ask for feedback about a new survey they want to conduct with your customers. If you feel that the survey they’re envisioning could annoy your customers, you could say, “I love the idea of gathering information. I think asking customers this early on in their relationship with us to spend this much time completing a survey might scare them off.” This is honest, but you’ve stated it in a way that doesn’t attack the person who came up with the idea. The other side of this coin is that you need to be willing to accept and consider constructive feedback that’s given to you, as well.
Applaud Successes, Tackle Challenges Together
Whenever you have a meeting in which an entire department (or the whole company) is gathered together, find a reason to celebrate someone or something. It can be something big like giving a bonus to a salesperson who just closed a large deal, but it can also be something less obvious like giving flowers to a team member who went out of their way to meet a client deadline. Make sure to note these successes, no matter how big or small, and encourage employees to brag about one another during meetings too.
And when there is a big challenge upcoming or a mistake that’s recently happened, invite everyone to work together to get through it and fix it. This helps reinforce your team’s sense of purpose in their work and also adds to really positive company culture.
If you focus on your employees’ individual and collective growth and are intentional about team building for your business, you’re sure to build the right foundation. And if you’d like more tips about company culture or team building activities, please contact us today.
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