At some point, all teams experience low points in terms of motivation. This is quite natural–motivation usually moves in a wave-like pattern. It’s hard to sustain motivation all the time and keep spirits up, and it simply takes a lot of energy.
However, you can minimize the low periods with some motivation-boosting and team building activities. Such activities are good if your team needs a quick pick-me-up to get through a busy or difficult period, or if you want to implement a strategy to target and improve long-term motivation and team growth.
In the following, we’ll review the basics of motivation and team spirit, and give you some ideas for how to kick them up a notch. These ideas include specific ideas for activities, but also some longer-term programs you can implement to make your team’s structure more “motivation-friendly”.
How to raise team spirit: identifying motivators
Nowadays teams need more motivation than usual. We’ve talked a lot about hybrid teams and team unity here before, but it’s important to emphasize how much the shift to remote and hybrid work styles has affected teams.
In one of our blog posts on staying motivated while working remotely, we discussed the three main “motivators” (what gets people motivated) that are impacted by switching to remote and hybrid environments. It’s useful to mention them again here, because I think it will help us to think about what kinds of activities and programs can touch on these motivators (and therefore increase motivation).
The three motivators are:
•Play–this is the “joy” you get from work, maybe from problem solving with other people. It could be the joy you get from just chatting with colleagues and interacting with them casually. Or it could be the joy that you get from brainstorming a tough problem and coming up with the answer. The space to create and run wild with your ideas is part of this, too.
•Purpose–this is related to how you visibly impact your company and the feedback you get about your work. You could also ascribe it to finding “meaning” at work and being valued by the rest of your team.
•Potential–this has to do with how you view future opportunities at your company and your continuing development and training. We discussed the importance of communicating potential and creating a shared vision for development within teams when it comes to new employee training (younger team members are especially motivated by mentoring and skill development training). But really all team members, at all stages, have a lot to benefit from further mentorship and training opportunities.
Already, we can see that these motivators have taken a hit recently. Of course, it’s been hard for companies to shift work modes and deal with all these motivators at the same time. But it’s extremely important that teams take an honest look at these motivators now that teams have settled into a more regular working pace, in order to prevent serious motivation and burn-out issues from happening.
In the next sections, we’ll see how these three motivators play out in the recommendations we offer.
Ideas for Team Development
First, let’s talk about some ways that you include more team development and training into your regular schedule. While these might seem to fall more heavily on the “purpose” and “potential” side, they can involve some “play” too, especially if team members get to think creatively and brainstorm with each other.
1. Goal-setting discussions
Talking about your goals together with your team is a crucial part of team building. It helps motivate team members by giving them a stake in the direction of the team, and the feeling that they have some purpose to play in its development.
Goal-setting can be done in a number of different ways, too. In fact, it’s better to be creative here, so that team members can express themselves in different ways and maybe have some fun:
- Divide into smaller groups first to make discussions run more smoothly.
- Use SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) charts
- Or use sticky notes (have team members write their ideas/words relating to different topics on sticky notes and stick them to the white board).
- You can even decide to draw or act out goals as a way to get the creativity flowing.
2. Team building workshops
Team building workshops are for dedicating a specific time and space to team building and learning about team building. Learning together is a goodway to motivate your team by getting everyone on the same page.
You can plan a workshop by yourself internally, and simply mark off a set time where you’ll do some activities and learn about how to strengthen your team. You can also hire professionals to do this for you.
Invite Japan has a number of team building workshops based on topics such as:
- Team roles (Belbin team role model)
- Psychological Safety
- Anger Management
- Improv and Creativity
Mentoring is hugely important right now, especially for new and/or younger employees. Research indicates that mentoring on average has fallen in recent years, and that was before the shift to remote work.
The reason mentoring is important is that it makes team members feel like their future is being invested in. This makes team members want to stick around and grow with their team, rather than leave because they feel undervalued. It also builds serious trust between workers and management, and between older and younger members of the team. This is beneficial not only for strengthening relationships, but for making your team more resilient in times of crisis.
4. Skill training
Along with team building, investing in specific skill training related to your business or organization can get everyone on the same page. One major issue when it comes to hybrid and remote teams is that team members’ skills become much more disparate. Some team members may be developing or gaining new skills much more rapidly than others since everyone is separated.
Skill training together can bring the team back in harmony, or at least allow you to see and assess where everyone is. Of course, skill training could be using a specific app, or a new technological feature, something related to general online productivity. Again, learning new skills helps team members feel like they’re being valued and that they’re growing together–both of which can help boost team spirit.
Activities and Programs
In this section we’ll talk about some more specific activities that are helpful to increase team motivation. These are obviously leaning more towards the “play” motivator, since the objective is to have a fun and enjoyable time together. However, many of these activities can inspire and stimulate teams to think about purpose and potential too.
Icebreaker activities are usually short little team building exercises that can be included anywhere: at the beginning of meetings, right after lunch breaks, in between goal-setting sessions, etc. Icebreakers help lighten the mood and get everyone talking and smiling, which is obviously a good way to motivate teams for whatever comes next.
Ice breaker games are generally about getting to know more about each other. For example, one easy icebreaker to do is called “10 things in Common”. To play, break your team up into small groups (preferably two). In their groups, team members have to find 10 things in common. It can actually lead to some pretty surprising discoveries.
Icebreakers are a simple and easy investment in raising your team’s spirits.
6. Team lunches or check-ins
This one is also relatively easy and simple to pull off. Simply have team members eat lunch together and “check-in”. A check-in means that you give one person time to monologue about anything on their mind–what they’re working on, how they’re feeling, something that they read or watched, etc. When they’re done, other team members can comment or respond. Then the next team member gets to talk, and so on.
The reason this exercise is motivating is that people feel like their voices are being heard and that their thoughts and feelings are valued. It also really helps team members see what’s going on with their team members and how they’re doing.
The reason why it might be good to do this during lunchtime especially is that many online and hybrid teams don’t eat lunch together anymore. Having one day a week where team members are encouraged to have a video lunch and chat session with each other is a nice way to build camaraderie and a collective team spirit.
7. Team Trivia
Hosting a team trivia game can easily increase everyone’s motivation and raise team spirits. Think of a bunch of different questions about your team, things they’ve accomplished, or facts and inside jokes about individual team members (you can also get team members to contribute their questions). Then present the questions in a presentation and have team members compete to see who can answer the most questions correctly.
This is a super fun activity, and the reason it can motivate your team is that it’s about your team. People enjoy answering questions about each other, and you can look back at some of your shared experiences in an enjoyable way.
8. Outdoor scavenger hunt
Outdoor scavenger hunts allow teams to explore new areas together, all while having fun. Invite Japan’s Hidden Secrets Journey scavenger hunts also combine scavenger hunting with puzzle-solving, so team members have to work together to look for clues and combine their skills to complete the challenges. This type of game is fantastic for building team relationships and motivating teams to succeed in the future.
9. Online team builing (Tabitantei, Secret Agent)
Invite Japan’s online team building games work in a similar way as scavenger hunts–except that it’s all online. Teams still get motivated to solve interesting puzzles, and raise team spirit by working together. But since it’s all online, team members that are working remotely can participate, and you don’t have to worry about the logistics of getting everyone to the same place.
Our online games also show teams that you can have fun using online tools, something that can help motivate remote and hybrid teams.
10. Suitcase Mystery (dispatch game)
Suitcase Mystery is another exciting puzzle-based team building game from Invite Japan. But the special feature of this series is that it can be played anywhere, including offices and conference halls, since all the challenges are contained in a suitcase. This makes it a great game to motivate teams in the very spaces where they work. The puzzle challenges involve a lot of interesting props and objects, which get teams excited to continue to solve the mysteries inside.
Suitcase Mystery is one of our most popular activities, especially for new employee training. It easily breaks the ice and gets team members working together, sharing their ideas, and laughing at the outrageous puzzles. Which makes it the perfect way to give team spirit a boost.
Motivating your team should be a focus of your team building regime. You want to make sure that team members feel valued and that there is trust between team members. This isn’t something that you can achieve in a one-off activity. It has to be something that you work on consciously and continually. Hopefully these ideas will help you get started on your path towards boosting team spirit and forging a happy, healthy team that can handle any crisis that comes its way.