There’s a common misconception that ‘team building’ basically means occasional one-off ‘team activities’, such as paintball or office trivia, when in reality your workplace is building its team or teams all the time. It’s happening when you celebrate a business win or go for casual after-work drinks on a Friday. Everything is contributing to the way your team dynamic develops. That’s an exciting thought because it means you always have control over shaping your desired workplace culture, rather than trying to ‘create it’ in one afternoon bonding session.
Successful team builds rely on excellent staff recruitment and consistent nurturing of work relationships, which in turn fosters a strong work culture. Conversely, unsuccessful team building efforts can breed a culture of negativity.
So how do you build a work culture with successful team builds?
Great people come first
First you focus on finding great people, then you focus on offering meaningful perks. This means doing everything reasonably possible to hire new staff who will naturally connect well with current staff. While they obviously have to be the right fit for the job itself, ideally your prospective recruit will also meet some of their potential future colleagues—the great people you already hired—and think, ‘Wow, I would really fit in here’.
At the end of the day (and the week, month, year, and so on), we spend a huge portion of our work lives mixing with co-workers whilst working, and only brief amounts of time engaging in extracurricular activities, socialising outside of work, or taking advantage of workplace perks like the ping pong table or gym. Those normal, everyday interactions are where your positive work culture begins and, hopefully, thrives.
Obligation vs. reward
There’s no need to throw the whole concept of team builds out the office window. In fact, successful team builds will take that strong work culture to a whole new level (no penthouse views required). It’s all about obligation versus reward, or more specifically, ditching the obligation and doubling the reward. How you promote a team build is equally as important as the actual perk, event or activity.
Team builds aren’t always exciting if participation is mandatory. That’s called a responsibility, which immediately conjures thoughts of scary words like ‘deadlines’, ‘expectations’, and ‘KPIs’ (Killing People’s Interest?). Instead, try coming up with team build concepts that are optional, diverse, interesting, and ongoing. Why ongoing? Because employees want to feel part of something meaningful. They want to do interesting things with colleagues they genuinely get along with. For example, free weekly fitness or yoga sessions in the local park will bring people together more than that annual paintball day. Less bruises too.
That’s not to suggest those special organised events are a waste of time. Quite the opposite in fact. By all means take your team (that’s the people who actively choose to get involved) on a scavenger hunt or karaoke night, just remember these activities are designed to form only one element of your awesome team build strategy.