Tips and Techniques for Better Teambuilding at Work
Fun and Games with Serious Benefits
If you're like most people, the mere mention of the term "teambuilding" probably sends a shiver up your spine, bringing to mind past episodes of self-conscious camaraderie among co-workers at a medieval theme restaurant or being forced to fall awkwardly backwards into the arms of a fellow employee.
It's true that teambuilding can be uncomfortable. However, recent research confirms that by working through these obstacles together, personnel can overcome their surface-level differences and develop a more profound sense of mutual trust, respect, and cooperation. Not coincidentally, these qualities also happen to be defining characteristics of teams that are equipped to deliver the kind of top-quality customer service that is necessary for long-term success in the highly competitive hospitality industry.
The Importance of Effective Teambuilding in the Hospitality Industry
Experts and researchers agree that properly administered teambuilding initiatives can foster positive outcomes ranging from increased morale to improved profits. In the specific context of the hospitality industry, most studies have evaluated the ability of teambuilding exercises to impact turnover, a persistent problem that has long plagued the hospitality labor market.
Again and again, research data have shown that effective teambuilding programs can dramatically increase the rate of retention among hospitality workers. However, ineffectively administered teambuilding efforts may have the opposite effect of pushing staff members so far out of their comfort zones that they become alienated and disinvested from the organization.
Effective teambuilding exercises have also been shown to foster improved communication, cooperation, and solidarity among managers and staff members. In the hospitality industry, these variables can promote a dynamic, interdependent working environment and organizational culture that can generate truly exceptional customer service.
Because service quality is such a singularly important factor in determining the success level of a particular property or brand, organizations seeking to maintain a strong competitive position in the hospitality industry should explore the potential promise of teambuilding exercises.
Merrymaking With a Mission
Some critics have derided the current trend of teambuilding exercises as little more than meaningless amusements that are unlikely to prompt meaningful changes within a company's organizational culture. However, a number of notable studies have linked ongoing teambuilding exercises with improvements in team functioning, cooperation, and communication, as well as increased retention.
Still, the criticism of some stand-alone teambuilding efforts does have a measure of validity. Not every group activity that staff members engage in should be regarded as teambuilding. Sometimes, an outing should be scheduled that is intended purely as entertainment or reward to deepen the sense of camaraderie among team members.
Getting the Most Out of Your Teambuilding Initiative
A major inadequacy of many teambuilding efforts is the failure to link the exercises to concerns, problems, or challenges that exist within the organization. In order to maximize the return on investment of the time, effort, and resources that will be invested in the teambuilding program, it is important to make as many tacit and explicit connections as possible between the organization's real-world challenges and the learning exercise.
Encourage organization-wide participation
One of the most common mistakes that organizations make when planning teambuilding activities is focusing solely on staff-level employees. However, in order to foster true teambuilding, experts recommend that a cross-section of the company should be represented, ranging from executives to support staff. Clear interest and dedication from the upper-tier managers and decision-makers will greatly augment the kind of connections, trust, and morale that are the goals of teambuilding exercises.
Introduce the lessons learned into workplace
Before, during, and after the teambuilding exercise, it is crucial to maintain a dialogue about the significance and meaning of the activity. A 15-20 minute open discussion period after the conclusion of the activity should be planned to help the employees process what they've learned, and periodic follow-ups can reinforce the lessons in the long-term.
Develop a long-term teambuilding plan
In some cases, a single, stand-along teambuilding exercise can be sufficient to spark a major change in the culture of a workplace. However, the best results are often gained through an extended teambuilding initiative. The incremental accumulation of lessons learned through teambuilding over a sustained period of time is most likely to foster deep-seated change in the organization.
Some suggested teambuilding activities
According to Karen Clark Frederick, proprietor of Teambuilding Adventures in Birmingham, Michigan, some ideas for effective teambuilding activities include ropes courses, team sports, outdoor excursions, obstacle courses, military exercises, skill-based competitions, charitable campaigns, volunteer work, drum circles, scavenger hunts, art projects, paintball excursions, game tournaments, retreats.