One of the best ways to get everyone on your team working well together, and moving towards the same goals, is to conduct regularly scheduled team building meetings.
“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” – Henry Ford
These meetings can be critical components in establishing your team culture, which is a key element to productivity and success. Team building meetings also let you bring everyone up to speed on what’s happening and why, which helps strengthen team communications, boosting productivity, and streamlining processes.
Primary Goals for Team Building Meetings
The overarching goals for team building meetings is to improve the way the team members work together. This can be done by fostering a collaborative environment, connecting team members who may not see each other that often, and aligning everyone’s efforts towards the same goal.
Fostering a collaborative team environment
Team building meetings should combine work with fun, featuring team building activities that let team members share experiences together, get to know each other in new ways, and build trust and communication channels to tap into when completing their tasks. Team building meetings are particularly effective for getting new hires introduced to team culture and aligned with the way things are done.
Aligning everyone’s efforts
Team building meetings are great channels for communicating your overall team goals and strategy. They also give team members an opportunity to present how they will contribute to reaching these goals. This is invaluable because it gives team members an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of where they fit and how they depend on each other to achieve the overall goals.
Unifying distributed teams
More and more teams have team members distributed across the country, or around the world. Virtual workers with home offices may not see colleagues often, and can easily feel detached from their team. A team building meeting creates a feeling of togetherness in your team members, building shared goals, and fostering collaboration.
Key Roles at Team Building Meetings
Good teams incorporate teamwork into their culture, creating the building blocks for success.
Team building meetings are all about the team. They need to be inclusive, and team authorities should participate alongside the rest of the team members.
To truly build your team it is essential that you include every single member of your team in the team building meetings. Sometimes this would be a group of people who share a physical office. Other times this would include everyone who is involved in a particular project or process, and span multiple offices, departments, and locations.
It can be beneficial to bring in activity leaders from outside the team to facilitate team building activities, so team leaders can participate alongside other team members. The activity leader could be a team building professional, like an organizational psychologist or off-site activity coach, or someone from within your company, like a manager from the HR department. There are some times when it makes sense to have the team leader plan and run activities with the team, without any outside interference or assistance.
Common Challenges in Team Building Meetings
Teamwork divides the tasks and multiplies the success.
Team building meetings can have great benefits for your team’s communication, productivity, and work satisfaction. However, if team members bring issues like work conflicts and lack of engagement into the team building process, it can backfire and weaken the team rather than strengthen it.
Work conflicts can affect team members’ willingness to fully participate and engage in team building activities. If possible, team leaders should seek to identify and help resolve major work conflicts with the involved individuals before inviting the entire team to participate in team building activities together. Research has shown that misalignment and miscommunication are the main culprits for work conflicts, and having regular team building meetings can dramatically improve team alignment and communication.
Lack of engagement at work
Unfortunately, research show that the vast majority of employees are not engaged in their work. Disengaged team members can be a challenge to involve in team building activities, but these are the employees that team building meetings can help the most. Making the team building meeting fun and focused on non-work related topics can help. Taking the team out of their regular settings for an off-site experience is another way to excite disengaged team members and give them a new perspective of the team.
How to Host Successful Team Building Meetings
A group becomes a team when all members are sure enough of themselves and their contributions to praise the skill of others.
As with any other meeting, planning ahead is the best way to ensure good use of participants’ time and successful outcomes. Start with finding out exactly which aspect your team needs to improve on. This will help you identify suitable activities that includes everyone. Make sure to signal that team building is important, but it should still be fun and engaging. This is a great occasion to celebrate team successes and strengths.
Identify what to focus on
Spend time thinking about your team’s current weaknesses. Does your team need to improve its communication, get to know each other better, improve trust, pull in the same direction, or become more agile? Identifying areas for improvements will guide you in selecting useful team building activities. Different team building activities address different issues.
Team building meetings are all about the team members, every single one of them. Make sure to plan activities that would not exclude certain team members based on their physical abilities, religion, or other personal characteristics. It is important to choose activities everyone feels safe doing. Making anyone feel left out, or less important to the team, is going to undermine the very purpose of the team building meeting.
Make it important
People don’t really care until they know how much you care. At one time each team member was excited about being part of the team, and you should aim to rekindle that excitement on a regular basis. There is no reason why people shouldn’t be circling the team building meetings on their calendars and view them as can’t miss events.
Make it fun and engaging
Teamwork is the secret that makes common people achieve uncommon results.
Engaging with each other and having fun is a great way to develop bonds that help team members work well together. Building a stronger and happier team will ultimately make them more effective, more productive, and more successful.
Celebrate team successes
Invite the team to celebrate successes, large and small. Emphasize milestones reached and areas where the team excels. Involve all team members by having them individually answer questions like:
What are you most proud of doing here?
Who on the team would you like to acknowledge for doing something great, and why?
Better Team Building Meetings with Technology
The ability to connect and engage participants at team building meetings is essential. MeetingSift lets you add activities that allow participants, whether they are attending in person or remotely, to become an integral part of team dialog right from the start.
Easily include and engage everyone
With MeetingSift you can easily engage teams of all sizes via the participants’ smartphones, tablets, or laptops. It’s easy to use, no training is needed, and there is nothing to download or install. Whether team members are co-located or distributed, they all get equal opportunity to participate.
Quickly and easily capture ideas from any size group
Recording and sharing ideas in larger groups can be a difficult task when several dozen people are juggling hundreds of Post-it Notes or shouting suggestions across the room. MeetingSift allows participants to submit ideas and feedback on their mobile device. Their ideas are then displayed for the rest of the group to see and build upon. This kind of parallel input saves time and also removes any potential bias introduced by the order of which the ideas were presented. The collective intelligence of the group is visualized in real-time, enhancing the discussion and group alignment.
Visualize team successes in real-time
MeetingSift combines, analyzes, and visualizes group results in real-time, for everyone to see, react to, and discuss.
Within seconds the entire team can see a snapshot of what everyone is thinking, whether it is a serious topic or something light and entertaining. This is exciting and engaging, and makes it easy to focus the discussion. You will all learn a great deal from the answers.
Tailored group activities that fit any team
Customizable group activities let your team members quickly combine their opinions and ideas in fun ways that create a buzz and energize the team. MeetingSift lets you choose from an array of group activities, that can be tailored to engage your participants.