July 28, 2022

9 team building tips to develop a winning strategy

Team building is an ongoing activity that takes focus and energy. Here are several team building tips to guide every stage of the team building process.

Most leaders see the importance of team building. But they don’t always understand how to put that understanding into action.

If you’re trying to improve your team, here are several team building tips to keep you on the straight and narrow throughout the process.

Strategic tips for team building from start to finish

If you want to be effective with your team building, you need to start with a plan in place. These tips give you an overview of how to create a solid strategy for your team building efforts. 

They start with fundamental aspects, like setting expectations and defining success. From there, they dive into logistical, nuanced, and nitty-gritty team building tips for building an effective team.

If you would like some more tips on why effective team building is important, check out this video by Chad Littlefield

1. Take the time to set expectations

You can team build with the goal of “creating a better team,” but that won’t get you far. Vague objectives lead to murky results.

Instead, take the time to honestly define the expectations you have for your team building efforts. Use this time to set goals and create a vision. This shouldn’t just guide you, as the leader. It should inspire each member of your team, too.

Pro tip: If you’re serious about team building, you should also schedule time to revisit these expectations on a regular basis. Adjust them over time. Use them to set daily expectations, too.

2. Clarify what success looks like

Once you have expectations in place, fill in the details required to meet them. What does success look like for your team? How can you get there? 

Start by asking yourself the following questions about your team building expectations:

  • Who does what on your team? Are roles and responsibilities clearly defined?
  • Have you set SMART goals? Are your objectives specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound?
  • Do your goals apply to everyone? Have you set common goals everyone can collectively focus on?
  • Are your goals supported by management? Has leadership bought into your team building aspirations?

Asking questions like these can help you orient yourself and your team before you start investing in targeted team building activities.

Related reading: The ultimate list of team building activities for work in any environment

3. Use recruitment as a team building tool

Team building should be proactive as well as reactive. That means starting your team building efforts on the recruitment level.

Any time you hire someone, keep team building in mind. How will each individual be a positive addition to your team? 

What team building skills, like communication or teamwork, do you consider important? Make sure to look for these abilities before adding someone to your team.

Pro tip: Let your team members influence the recruitment process. Ask them what skills and traits they think you should look for. Then assemble job descriptions and conduct interviews.

4. Prioritize communication and collaboration

The abilities to communicate and collaborate in a healthy manner are critical for an effective and efficient team. They’re so important that they get their own section.

If you’re hiring someone, gauge their ability to work with others. If you’re conducting a team training session, spend time developing critical communication skills. Things like active listening and emotional intelligence are powerful communication tools. If your team is remote, set up quality communication software to keep everyone connected. You get the idea.

Pro tip: The need for communication applies to team leaders, too. Take the time to connect with team members. Explain your decisions to your team. Show them how to communicate well. (More on leading by example in tip 8!)

Related reading: 5 elite communication team building activities to strengthen your team’s dynamics

5. Consider other team building objectives

There are many other team building objectives along with communication and collaboration. Other areas of team building that are well worth targeting include:

  • Teamwork: Consider solving a puzzle together, like a murder mystery or escape room.
  • Problem-solving: There are many problem-solving activities that can improve your team’s critical thinking. 
  • Professional development: Team building activities like cross-training and workshops can help with continual learning. This is critical in the 21st-century. 
  • Leadership: Both cultivating existing leadership skills and developing new leaders can help strengthen a team.

 

There are many things to focus on throughout your team building activities. This could be anything from solving a fake murder together or figuring out how to get the most out of your team building workshop. The important thing is that you consider the specific needs of your team and then tailor your efforts based on that information.

6. Think through team building activity logistics

No matter how good your goals and objectives may be; you’ll struggle to achieve them if you don’t tend to the details. Effective team building takes nitty-gritty logistics into account at every step. This includes details such as:

  • Geography: Do you need to conduct your team building online? If so, make sure you have a good software or video conference platform, like Gomada, in place.
  • Timing: Some team building activities, like professional development, are good for work hours. Others, like a trivia night, are after-hours activities. When that’s the case, respect your team’s flexibility and personal boundaries!
  • Cost: Some team building activities are free. Others can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. Consider how the cost will impact your team building efforts.

Also, consider creating a social contract for your team. Ethics Unwrapped explains that social contract theory says “people live together in society in accordance with an agreement that establishes moral and political rules of behavior.”

In the workplace, this translates as rules and regulations to guide your team. These can be verbal, or they can be written. Either way, establish a formal set of guiding principles (and associated steps if a conflict or other unpleasantries arise.) This is a good way to set a positive course for a group of professionals working together.

7. Be purposeful, consistent, and light-hearted

Rules and regulations have their place in a healthy, functioning team. However, you want to balance them out with a few other things:

  • Make sure all of your team building efforts have a clear purpose. Ensure that they support your overall team building expectations and objectives.
  • Maintain consistency throughout your team building activities.
  • Aim for a light-hearted attitude as you develop your team’s abilities.

Keep these in mind each time you spend time working on team building. Run the activity or goal through this filter of purpose, consistency, and fun.

8. Lead by example

One of the simplest yet critical team building tips is the act of leading by example. If you want your team building inspiration to be infectious, you need to demonstrate it often.

You can do this in a lot of different ways, starting with practicing what you preach. If you emphasize the need for communication, flex that skill. o improve problem-solving, lead your team through a problem-solving exercise. If you want to improve creative output, show your team how you think outside of the box.

You can also be an example to your team by taking the time to highlight their success. When you see something worthy of praise, praise it. When someone in your group is successful, recognize and reward them.

9. Assess and adjust over time

The last step is also one of the most essential. Taking the time to assess your team building success or failure is one of the best ways to remain effective in the future.

You can do this by asking your team for feedback. You can also gauge how productive you’ve been or how many of your SMART goals you’ve met. Also, consider if any of your past goals are no longer relevant.

Take the time to assess the past. Then use it to make adjustments moving forward.

The power of comprehensive team building

Team building isn’t just an activity that you take time for every once in a while. It’s a comprehensive process.

If you can grasp and apply these tips on team building, you can use them to supercharge your team’s abilities and take them to the next level.

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