Steve Jobs once said: “Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.” He was 100% right. The single most important ingredient for business success is teamwork. And it is not just businesses which require teams to achieve great things. Every organization needs well functioning teams in order to achieve its objectives.
For any team to function effectively, there needs to be a strong bond among the members. Team bonding (or cohesion) leads to better communication, cooperation, collaboration, problem-solving and conflict resolution within teams. All this makes the teams better at working together to achieve both short-term and long-term goals.
Basically, the single most important investment any organization make is in fostering bonding in its various working teams. The obvious question is: how can you achieve this? To answer this question, it is important to understand how team bonds develop.
The Foundations of Team Bonding
There are three core ingredients which are essential for team bonds to form and flourish. The first is a shared culture. This gives team members a sense of identity, distinction, and uniqueness. A feeling of belonging to a special group is essential for bonding. This identity sets the stage for seeing fellow team members as comrades, brothers/sisters-in-arms or family – depending on how the culture perceives colleagues.
The second is trust. For bonding to occur, team members need to trust each other. Each team member needs to believe that their leaders, colleagues and subordinates have got their backs. They have to know that they can count on the others to give their best towards common goals.
The third ingredient is solidarity. You can also call this camaraderie, esprit de corps or team spirit. It is basically a feeling of togetherness among the group members. This solidarity (feeling that “we’re in this together”) is what causes team bonding. When the solidarity is channelled towards collective objectives, the results can be amazing.
How to Build Team Bonding
For bonding to develop, teams need to be given opportunities to cultivate culture, trust and solidarity. The best way to achieve this is through interpersonal interactions among the members. Now, team members normally interact during the course of their work. Could this lead to bonding?
The answer can be “YES”. However, it depends on the nature the interactions. For most teams, the at-work interaction is usually controlled, serious, artificial and work-focused. This is especially true for teams which operate in high-pressure working environments. In such situations, the interactions may actually lessen bonding. This is especially the case when frustrations lead to arguments, disagreements and tempers flaring.
In such environments, the best way to build team bonding is through non-work interactions. These are basically interactions in which the pressures of targets, deadlines, and professional expectations are non-existent. As a result, team members can relax, enjoy each others company, learn more about each other, and learn how to cooperate in a non-work environment.
Strategies for Building Team Bonds
Team bonding can be cultivated through in-office or out-of-office interventions. Here are three strategies which you can use to improve bonding among the teams in your organization.
1. Celebrating Personal Achievements
Employees often achieve personal milestones. Examples include birthdays, weddings, anniversaries (e.g. 5th anniversary of joining the company), graduation, becoming employee-of-the-month, and so on. Each of these achievements offers an opportunity to foster team bonding. This can be done by bringing the team members to celebrate their colleagues.
The celebration doesn’t have to be big. Even taking 10 minutes off for the team to sing “Happy Birthday” to a colleague can go a long way in fostering unity. Basically, one quick way for any organization to build team bonding is to begin celebrating personal achievements of the individual members.
2. Fun Office Cultures
A little fun at the office doesn’t hurt. In fact, it can go a long way toward fostering bonding and office morale. Most employers mistakenly assume that when people have fun at work, they don’t work. The exact opposite is true. They often work harder.
As such, a great way to foster team bonding is to think of fun office cultures. Examples include Cupcake Fridays or Office Pranks. The best strategy is having the team members brain storm on the fun ideas they can integrate into their office culture. The brainstorming alone will bring them together. The fun culture will foster camaraderie.
What most organizations do is organize occasional activities out-of-work to foster bonding and teamwork. There are plenty of activities which can achieve this goal. Examples include volunteering/charity work, office barbecues, day-outs at the beach, team adventures (e.g. hiking, kayaking, fishing), and many others. The only requirement is that the activity has to be sufficiently engaging to the team members and doable in a group.
There are actually companies which specialize in organizing activities for promoting team bonding, cohesion, and teamwork. These can even infuse training into the fun and games. For instance, there are games which improve team communication, problem-solving, planning/prioritizing, troubleshooting and conflict resolution. One such a company is Get Out! Events.
The advantage of the specialized team bonding activities is that the benefits can go beyond team bonding. You also enable the team to develop critical work skills while having fun. This equips team members with relevant skills to maximize the opportunities brought about by the improved bonding. It also saves you money since you don’t have to organize separate training and bonding activities.
Bill Gates recommends that “Teams should be able to act with the same unity of purpose and focus as a well motivated individual.” The way to achieve that unity of purpose is through bonding. A well-bonded team works as a single unit to achieve strategic objectives.
There are three strategies which your organization can use to promote bonding within your teams. These include encouraging teams to celebrate their members, instituting fun office cultures and organizing bonding activities.
Of the three strategies, the easiest to implement is through specialized bonding activities. These can enable your organization to begin building team bonds immediately. The activities can also provide the atmosphere in which teams can brainstorm fun office cultures to implement. Therefore, if you want to improve the quality of your teams, you need to begin thinking about the kind of bonding activities you can involve them in.
The good news is that you don’t have to figure it out on your own. Get Out! Events has already helped dozens of organizations to implement exciting team bonding activities.