16 Effective team-building strategies to try this year

Teamwork is to business what David Attenborough is to nature documentaries.

…Fundamental to success.

But let’s talk numbers. While you probably have an intuitive understanding of its value, what’s the actual financial impact of building teams in the workplace? Or, by the same token, what’s the financial fallout if you fail at it?

It’s hard to know for sure. However, the damage done by a breakdown in communication at work sheds light on the issue. According to a recent report, almost a third of sales lost for this reason were valued at a minimum of $100,000.

Enter the very tangible value of team-building strategies! Do it right and you’ll end up with a tighter, happier, and more capable workforce that benefits your business in myriad ways. Sound good?

Let’s dive into 16 killer strategies for building effective teams.

1. Embrace an open-door policy

There’s nothing more demoralizing for employees than feeling unheard, unappreciated, and underutilized. When you work hard but receive no feedback, and/or have ideas (or concerns) but nobody to voice them to, it’s a matter of time before morale dips and you question your place at the company.

Adopting an open-door policy in any business acts as both a prevention and cure for this issue. The idea’s simple: let the team know your door is always open! If they have a question or concern they want to raise with management, they can do so. They’ll feel happier, more valued, and less afraid to volunteer their thoughts. 

2. Organize a company retreat

Few strategies boost communication and build camaraderie faster than going on a company retreat. It breaks up the typical routine, gets the team out of the office, and inevitably puts a smile on peoples’ faces.

Why not give it a try? Go someplace new, have fun doing some team-building activities, and walk away with a newfound sense of togetherness. Better still, it doesn’t have to be a hassle to sort out. Try Surf Office for an efficient and cost-effective way to organize the perfect team-building retreat. 

3. Have a clear company vision

Have you ever heard of Jack Welch? He was the super successful chair and CEO of General Electric between 1981 and 2001. Anyway, Welch once said that: “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentless drive it to completion.”

We couldn’t have put it any better! Seriously, rallying your team around a shared goal is a potent way to fuel cohesion. So, make sure you know exactly what you’re trying to achieve and shout it from the rooftops. Giving people the same North Star will boost productivity and teamwork to no end.

4. Create a friendly and respectful company culture

Nobody wants to work in a company with a toxic culture. Period. Indeed, according to Forbes, employees are 10.4 times more likely to quit because of toxic culture than low pay. If they feel disrespected, witness unethical behavior, or don’t see evidence of diversity, equity, and inclusion, then you’ll struggle to build a successful business – let alone a successful team.

By contrast, everyone wants to work in a friendly and respectful culture that rewards effort and strives for success. Be kind to people, treat everyone fairly, entrust them with responsibility, and promote respect whenever possible. Furthermore, protect your winning culture at all costs once it’s established. Like trust, it only takes a second to ruin what could’ve taken years to cultivate.

5. Trust your team to perform

Your business is your baby, which is why it’s so tempting to micromanage people. Unfortunately, you become a bottleneck in the operation as a result. Not only that, but you also risk damaging that all-important company culture. Over time, it’ll make the team a) doubt its abilities and b) resent your lack of trust in them.

Avoid those kinds of negative outcomes by giving your employees autonomy. They may fail now and again, but (with appropriate support) they’ll also learn what went wrong and adapt accordingly. Furthermore, it’ll empower people to try new and creative strategies that deliver results. Ultimately, you’ll end up with a stronger team that feels and works better together.

6. Define and clarify employee roles

Think about a professional NFL team. Each person on it, whether they’re a quarterback or a wide receiver, has a specific job to do. As a result, they know exactly what’s expected of them and how their role fits into the wider dynamic.

Try to imbue the same level of clarity into your team. Define their roles! Make sure they know precisely who’s doing what, and when. Succeed and they’ll become like cogs in a well-oiled machine – all working together as a single, cohesive unit.

7. Improve the hiring process

Building effective teams is 100 times harder when you hire the wrong people. After all, a bad apple spoils the bunch, right? Not only are bad hires disruptive, but they’re expensive too. Some studies suggest the average cost of bringing the wrong employee aboard ranges from $17,000 to $240,000!

Of course, mistakes happen. But consider auditing your current hiring process if you’ve experienced a string of bad hires. Are you clear on your ideal candidate and company needs? Are you advertising job opportunities in the right places? Does your screening process need to be stricter? Do you place enough emphasis on a candidate’s cultural fit as well as their technical fit?

Asking these kinds of questions should ensure you find high-quality employees who’ll work well with the current team.

8. Double down on strengths

One of the best team-building strategies is also the simplest: to allocate roles based on peoples’ strengths. This achieves two main outcomes:

  1. You stop trying to fit square pegs into round holes. Instead, you capitalize on peoples’ natural competencies.
  2. Your team will feel understood and should enjoy work more now they’re performing tasks they’re good at.

FYI, this is another reason it helps to go on work retreats! By virtue of spending time together in a new environment, you’ll learn more about peoples’ hidden skills. 

9. Acknowledge hard work and offer incentives

As Warren Buffet’s right-hand man and the Vice Chairman of investment juggernaut Berkshire Hathaway, Charles “Charlie” Munger knows a thing or two about successful companies. So when he says, “show me the incentive and I will show you the outcome,” it’s worth paying attention to!

In essence: rewards lead to results. That’s why anyone building teams in the workplace should celebrate employee successes whenever possible. Thank people for their hard work. Say “well done” when they achieve something. And offer gifts, bonuses, and promotions. Your team will love you for it.

10. Elevate via mentorship

Most teams have both senior and junior members. In these cases, another effective team-building strategy is to create a mentor program. You simply link newer team members up with a mentor! They can show them the ropes, provide access to their professional network, and help them in their new role.

Everyone’s a winner. The junior employee feels supported and speeds up their progress in the company. The mentor receives plaudits, goodwill, and possible financial rewards. And the business benefits from greater teamwork, employee satisfaction, and higher retention rates.

11. Have fun outside of work

Fun fact: socializing beyond the workplace can help boost teamwork within it. As a team leader, then, you should encourage and enable these types of collective activities whenever possible.

We’ve been through the benefits of organizing company retreats already. But what about going for post-work drinks on a Friday evening? Or booking a table at a local restaurant for a lunch at the weekend? Or how about bowling, go-karting, or laser tag? The more you do together, the strong the team will become. Pay for it using the company credit card and the results will be even better…

12. Solve conflicts ASAP

Even the best teams experience tension, arguments, and disputes every now and again. Conflict is natural when you have different people working together for extended periods of time. Throw big ambitions and egos into the mix and it’s a miracle such issues aren’t more common!

To keep the team together and stop these situations from festering, it’s vital to act with speed and fairness. We could write an entire post on this topic, but the trick is to avoid pointing fingers and make sure both parties feel heard. Let them express their side of the story, then take reconciliatory steps.

Follow this mediation up with appropriate consequences (don’t forget to explain the reasoning behind them) and create a plan to avoid the issue re-occurring.

13. Keep everyone accountable

Cultivating a strong company culture doesn’t mean you can’t hold people accountable when they do something wrong.

If someone’s poor attitude, lack of output, or other misdemeanors continue to go unaddressed, it’ll soon start affecting others. Keep the team in high spirits and working together toward your shared vision by holding everyone accountable and nipping issues in the bud.

Oh, and don’t be afraid to give direction and set boundaries! This is a key component of strong leaders that – assuming it’s don’t with kindness and respect – helps keep a team on track to do their best work.

14. Invest in your employees

Does your team have access to professional development and training opportunities? If you answered “no”, then it’s time for that to change! Trust us, it’ll pay for itself ten times over. Here’s why:

Firstly, your team will sharpen their current capabilities and gain invaluable new skills. Secondly, they’ll appreciate your investment in them and thus feel happier at work. And thirdly, because these opportunities inevitably help build rapport between teammates. You end up with a more talented, satisfied, and cohesive group of employees.

Top tip: Avoid signing people up for random training courses! Seek their buy-in beforehand by asking what courses they actually want to do.

15. Use the right tools

You could have the best Formula 1 driver in the world. But they’d never win any trophies if their car wasn’t good enough. Strange as it may sound, it’s a similar deal with team-building strategies…

Basically, getting people to work well together is often a simple matter of giving them the right tools and resources. For example, maybe they need a purpose-built collaborative platform to improve communication? Or perhaps some proper project management software would help the team complete tasks quicker?

The best way to find out is to ask. Whether via email, phone, surveys, or one-to-one meetings, get the team’s opinion(s) on what they need.

16. Encourage listening and involvement

You don’t have a cohesive team if a few members do all the talking. Nor do you have one if everybody simply agrees with what you say!

By contrast, successful workforces invite, encourage, and applaud contributions from everybody. Hence why another key part of building effective teams is creating an environment where people listen to each other. It’s the only way to ensure people feel confident and respected enough to share their ideas.

Succeed here and you win. The entire team will feel united, morale will be high, and creative ideas will flow without fear or ridicule.

Try these team-building strategies at an offsite retreat

Building an effective team can make or break a business. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of awesome team-building strategies to help you do it!

With any luck, this post will have introduced you to a few ideas you hadn’t come across before. Whether you try one or all of the suggestions above, you’re sure to reap the rewards in your workplace.

If the most appealing option happens to be the team-building retreat, then please get in touch with Surf Office today! We’d be delighted to help organize a customized offsite retreat for you and your team.

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