Improving Team performance

The Importance of Team Building Exercises for Small Business

John Mce asked:

Team building comes in many shapes and sizes and sometimes gets dismissed as cliche but the fact remains it delivers real benefits in terms of staff motivation, performance and retention. Big business realised this in the 90’s and we saw an upsurge in businesses adopting this into their HR strategy and similarly businesses offering team building and team development activities and courses also became prevalent.

Despite the popularity of team building among larger companies many small businesses- particularly in traditional industries were reluctant to adopt team building, seeing it as an unnecessary expense based on what is typically a small or non-existent training and staff development budget. Teambuilding days for example not only involve the cost of a trainer or training centre or an activity for the team to do together but also the expense incurred of leaving the office for a day or afternoon- in an office of 5 people or less this can mean the close of business for an entire day which is undoubtedly costly.

However, there are real benefits to be gained from good team building activities which far outweigh the costs incurred in the process. Benefits companies who adopt team building often report include- improved morale among staff, higher staff retention rates/ lower staff turnover, improved efficiency measured in terms of meeting project deadlines, higher productivity per capita of staff resulting in higher profitability, lower absence through sickness.

It may be argued that all these benefits touch on key areas which are actually more business critical to the world of small business than large organisations where profitability is usually driven from the organisational mechanic as a whole rather than individual performance (although this still undoubtedly plays a part in the mechanic, it is less measurable).

For the cash conscious small business however there are alternatives to expensive team building which can deliver the same benefits to you business. If you want to run your own team building activity make sure you first understand the principles of what makes good professional team building so successful. Here are some basic guidelines.

-Do it outdoors- it doesn’t have to be on the other side of the world but its good to get out of town.

-Make it active but inclusive- you may be into your extreme sports but that doesn’t mean your team will share your enjoyment of all things dangerous. Make it something people will look forward to rather than dread.

-Look at and address the problems in your team- if there’s a divide, don’t ignore this, choose activities which will force your team to face up to their differences.


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