As we enter the new year, one thing that’s at the top of everyone’s minds is reorganizing priorities. The beginning of the year is a time when we can reflect on what’s really important, and refocus our energies in order to accomplish our new goals. Part of the prioritization process means making and scheduling time to work on these goals, and to think about how to improve.
Team building, similarly, requires setting goals and refocusing needs as the new year begins. As we’ve seen in the past year, teams need more motivation than ever before. And more thought needs to be put into keeping them unified, especially if your team is remote. Team building needs to be made a priority, which means it requires time.
Scheduling regular team building sessions is the best way to meet your team building goals and to understand ways of improving as a team. Team building can act as guideposts, letting your team know how far they’ve come and which areas still need to be worked on. But it can also alert your team to potential danger zones or blind spots, too.
In this blog, we’ll lay out why scheduling regular team building events is so crucial for maintaining healthy and resilient teams. In fact, maintenance is a good way to think about team building. Just like you need regular maintenance and physical checkups on your body and your car, so too does your team need regular maintenance checks. The only difference is that team building is a lot more fun.
1. Take preventative measures and make sure everything is healthy
One of the main reasons to schedule regular team maintenance is to prevent issues from forming. Think of the human body, and how often problems occur that you aren’t even aware about, or can’t even see. Getting regular checkups helps you be more aware of what’s going on, and can catch potential issues before they become too serious.
Because teams are made up of human relationships, which are complicated and ever-changing, you might not be aware that an issue has formed or is getting worse. Your team may be in need of better communication skills, or may have trouble coming up with new ideas together. But you might never know about these problems unless you check in with your team and really delve into what’s going on under the surface.
In other blog posts, we talked about the concept of resilience. Resilient teams are able to adapt to crises and move more easily through them, in part because they are aware of where their potential weaknesses are. Regular team maintenance activities can help your team sound out these areas that need to be worked on, and make your team more capable of dealing with crises that will come.
2. Address problems and issues head-on
Of course, regular team maintenance is good not only for preventing serious problems from occurring on your team, but also for addressing issues when they do eventually arise. Not even the healthiest person can be immune from every disease, after all.
But beyond simply making teams aware of issues, team building provides groups with a space in which to actually confront them. It does this by giving teams challenges in a low stakes environment, so that teams are forced to deal with problems but without the fear of failure that people often feel at work.
One of the major components of high-functioning teams that we’ve discussed in our blog is something called psychological safety. Psychologically safe teams are able to have conflicts and openly address issues by managing these conflicts on the basis of trust. Regular team maintenance activities can help teams confront problems that they have by building this sense of trust and openness.
3. Get to know each other better and build team unity
A major lesson that we’ve learned in the past two years is that team unity cannot be overlooked. Work can in fact still get done even when team members are working separately, but there is something missing when team unity is not taken into consideration.
Team unity empowers teams to be productive together, and to combine resources and skills in order to reach a higher level of efficiency. And the main element of team unity is the connectedness between team members.
By helping team members get to know each and bond in a fun atmosphere, regularly scheduled team building helps strengthen team unity with greater frequency. During team building challenges, team members get to know each others’ strengths and hidden skills. Teams also learn to face challenges together, and their success as a team helps to further solidify a sense of team unity.
The more often that teams work to build up their team unity, the more they will be able to deal with challenges that test this team unity, as we said above.
4. Motivation=more success
Team maintenance also gets teams more motivated by giving them fun challenges that they can accomplish together. This activates their extrinsic motivators and creates a positive feedback loop, so that more successes lead to more motivation to succeed, which leads to more successes.
Motivation has its ups and downs. It’s natural for individuals and teams to feel less motivated at times. It could be due to a particular failure, or it could just be caused by the emotional ebb-and-flow that is a part of life.
Either way, regular team building can help smooth out the ups and downs of motivation. Even if your team is feeling motivated, a team building activity can help prevent this motivation from dropping.
The most important thing to remember though, is that team building should be enjoyable for your team. That way, team members are able to get the most out of the activity and be the most engaged, which will lead to higher motivation and success in the future.
From the above, it should now be clear why it’s so beneficial to schedule regular team building events and activities throughout the year. Under this type of regular schedule, teams will be better positioned to deal with problems, before and after they occur, and will have a deeper well of team unity and motivation to draw from when things get tough.
One last thing we should mention is when it comes to regular team maintenance activities, even a little goes a long way. Short, quick icebreaker activities every other week can sometimes be more effective than a day-long event once a year. The extensive array of team building activities, like online activities and scavenger-hunt-style outdoor games, makes it easy to plan team building events that don’t end up feeling stale and overused.
To borrow from the health metaphor again, caring about your health and body depends on good daily habits, and not just expensive treatment. So this year, make team maintenance a habit and improve the health of your team. Schedule regular team building activities throughout the year and you will see the results flourish before your eyes.