There are certain images that come to mind when the phrase “Team-Building” gets passed around the office. They range from free-falling off a table into the arms of co-workers, to corporate retreats, to fun activities like bowling and rock climbing. These are all well and good (and necessary, in my humble opinion), but there are also ways to work concrete team-building endeavours into your organization’s training materials.
Making your training program group-focused can:
- make team members more aware of the strengths and learning styles of people with whom they work (including their employers). This can do wonders for productivity and efficiency, as it will be more clear who is best suited for various tasks and responsibilities.
- allow extroverted team members to shine, while also inviting less gregarious team members to come out of their shells. Inevitably, there will be individuals who are dying for a chance to get away from their desks and interact.
- give team members the opportunity to practice conflict resolution before conflicts actually happen. Simply put, it gives teams the chance to find out where they’re likely to clash, and to work around it.
- alleviate some of the stress involved in training. Having another mind working on difficult training tasks can be an incredible relief.
- Many of the activities and exercises included in training can be made into group projects. Adding a little depth and complexity to these tasks ensures that everyone in a group has enough to do. Even activities for individuals can still be concluded with a sharing/discussion component.
- Including case studies and real-life scenarios in training is another good source of discussion and collaboration, especially if these case studies have more than one possible outcome.
- Invite team members to evaluate and analyze their roles, capabilities and strengths in group situations. After team-based activities, also ask each group to evaluate its performance, not as groups of individuals, but as a unit.
- Get creative! Artistic and play-based training isn’t just for groups of children. The team that plays together, stays together.
Training may be largely based-on acquiring skills and knowledge, but that doesn’t mean that learning can’t bring about collaboration and trust among team members. The best part of making training a team-building endeavour is that it doesn’t have to be done explicitly, and partnerships between members can evolve organically, even after training sessions have ended.
Amy Leask is VP of Enable Education. As an educator and an employer, she’s seen all kinds of effective teams form, and is a big believer that two (or more) heads are better than one.
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