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Know what works for your people
We teach team-building in many of our courses.
However, we also have a years-old mantra in our company that “engineers don’t do trust falls.”
Don’t bring in “flavor of the month” activities to try to build unit cohesion. Consider your people and what will work well for them. Build trust in practical ways, not through any process that could result in injuries and/or involvement of HR. Consult your people on the activities in advance. Make sure that team-building and trust-building activities don’t create a hardship or exclude team members—after-work get-togethers might be a challenge for a parent whose daycare closes at 6pm, and the off-site rope-course would leave out the team member who uses a wheelchair.
If you do it right, your team will like, trust, and respect each other. That leads to increased morale, productivity, and retention—people like coming to work, and they don’t want to let the other team members down. So, it’s worth developing the team as a team.
If you have not yet done a lot of team-building, consider starting with a lunch. Bring in food they don’t have to pay for, and make sure everyone gets a lunch that fits their dietary needs or restrictions—e.g., no “meat-lover’s pizza” for the vegan or the person who keeps Kosher. Give them notice in advance, so they don’t pack food or make off-site lunch plans. You can let the conversation flow—this should not be a lecture from the boss. But feel free to throw in prompts to draw people out—you can be transparent about wanting the build team up and ask them for their input on making that happen. Be open to suggestions, even if they are not what you would have suggested.
(image source: https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=782461749913484&set=a.207164684109863,
and their source: https://www.facebook.com/wawawiwacomics)
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