Team Building – DPEM Style

Team Building.  Does the phrase make you cringe or get excited? At DPEM we get excited! For those who’ve been in the workforce for a good amount of time, you know this can be rare.  Most companies don’t take time for team bonding and tend to see it more as a frivolous activity than one that actually makes an impact – and in some cases they’re right.  However, we’ve experienced first-hand how impactful a team building program can be if done thoughtfully and with clear direction.

So how do you do it right?  It’s going to vary for every company and team, but we’ve put together a few tips that have been successful for us.

One of the most obvious, but often forgotten aspects of putting together a team building activity is stating what you’re trying to achieve.  By stating the goal upfront, you’re more likely to stay on the right path when brainstorming different activities instead of getting sidetracked by something that seems more exciting.  Below are a few areas we reference when planning our team building activities.  We try to rotate between the different categories – because it’s almost impossible to find one activity that incorporates all of these goals.

- Teamwork & Cooperation
- Creativity & Innovation
- Problem Solving Skills
- Cultural Awareness
- Fostering Fun & Team Bonding
- Professional Development
- Volunteering & Community Outreach

This is one of those critical skills needed for any type of relationship, and it’s just as crucial in the workplace.  There are many facets to incorporating good communication in regards to team building, but we focus on two – the first being asking our team what they’re interested in.  We’ve incorporated this into surveys and have discussed it in our team meetings.  It doesn’t matter how you obtain the feedback, just as long as you’re providing an outlet where people can share their ideas and interests.  Some of our favorite activities have been staff suggestions – like when we ventured out to Flora Grubb for the afternoon and fed our creative souls by designing our own succulent arrangements.

Flora Grubb - Team Photo Flora Grubb Succulents

The second area of communication leads back to Tip #1 – tell your team what the goal of this activity is.  If people understand the purpose, they’re more likely to engage and invest their time and energy.

We try to keep in mind that each of our team members is unique (which we love) and may not enjoy or feel comfortable participating in certain activities.  It’s never fun being forced to participate in something that is completely outside your comfort zone, such as an obstacle course or singing karaoke. You want the activity to be challenging AND fun, and something all personalities types will be comfortable doing.

Another often-neglected step is following up after the activity.  How did the team feel about the activity – Did they like it? What did they like about it? What didn’t they like about it? Would they want to do it again? All valid questions that help us improve our team-building program.  We also refer back to our original goal, making sure we stayed on track with the original purpose of the activity.

Although these tips are great, the most important aspect is having a leadership team that truly values the importance of team building and the impact it can have on productivity.  We’re so lucky to have that at DPEM, and since we’ve placed more emphasis on team building we’ve seen great results.  If you’re still not convinced, below is a brief list of positive improvements we’ve experienced.

- Feeling more connected to the team and the company.
- Improved company culture and work environment.
- Getting to know each other’s strengths and skill sets – identifying each other as potential internal resources for particular projects.
- Overall group cohesion.
- Reduced “burn-out” and work fatigue.
- Discovering unknown talents of different team members.
- Greater understanding of each team member’s stresses, resulting in reduced misunderstandings and conflicts.
- Improved performance and happiness.

We’re curious, what team-building activities have you found successful?

Posted by: Lindsay Sutherland, Tips of the Trade