When it comes to assembling, motivating and keeping a great team happy so that they can flourish in your business, the truth is that it’s a bit of both.  It cannot be understated how important a great team is to a business’ success. The quality of the work you do will never exceed the quality of the team behind you. To many entrepreneurs’ and managers’ dismay, team building often seems as complicated as watchmaking—there are a lot of moving parts, and things have to be just right in order to create something magical.

Fortunately, academic research on team culture and group dynamics sheds some much needed light on creating and motivating the perfect team. Let’s look at a few of the best studies available, and break down what’s important to look out for and what practical things you can do to ensure your team is set up for success.

Team-Building Exercises Can Work

Building a great team and actual “team building” exercises are often viewed in very different lights.

Team building is one of those business topics that will evoke a few eye rolls. The first thing that comes to mind for many are those superficial activities that force people together into some sort of awkward scenario, with all of the participants hating the process and wishing it would end.

Team building shouldn’t have this sort of reputation.

The Small Group Research journal paper “Does Team Building Work?” analyzed data from 103 studies conducted between 1950 and 2007 which found the strongest scientific evidence to date that team building can have measurable, positive effects on team performance.

The “secret” in making team building work is to keep things normal, and to avoid situations that feel invasive, awkward, or forced. Do NOT assemble your team and ask everyone to share their greatest fear—a huge majority of the people involved won’t appreciate this forced mix of their work life and personal feelings.

So what should you do instead?

The Best Team-Building Activities

In light of the lackluster reputation of team building, you probably aren’t surprised to read that research from Citrix has shown that 31 percent of office workers say that they can’t stand team-building activities.

This negative association is a shame, because, as discussed in this Harvard Business School publication, a connected team is a motivated team. Further supporting research from the American Psychological Association (APA) finds that team building activities can help employees feel valued, and those that do are the most motivated to do great work.  Almost all employees (93 percent) who reported feeling valued said that they are motivated to do their best at work.

There are ways to circumvent this mentality and fulfill the goal of providing great bonding experiences for co-workers. David W. Ballard, head of APA’s Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program, discussed in a U.S. News & World Report interview some simple team-building activities that have shown to be successful:

Physical activities. Sports make for superb outings that allow employees to work together and get physical exercise.
Field trips. Simple, casual trips such visiting a park or museum or going to a baseball game can work wonders for your team.
Professional development activities. Quality workshops give teams the opportunity to stay up to date with education and develop professional relationships in new settings—all without the stigma of going it alone or the awkwardness of trying to network solo.Shared meals. Eating regularly with your team allows for casual conversation in a comfortable environment, letting team members get to know each other outside of work.

The Team Building programs that EPIC Adventures has developed incorporate ALL of these elements!  If you are interested in taking your team and business to the next level, give us a call at 1-855-5BE-EPIC and let us design a custom program just for you and your team’s needs. 

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