When it comes to building effective teams (and effective companies), you want to make sure the right people end up with the job. Resumes, interviews, and the day-to-day grind can only take you so far—without a cohesive, unified group of passionate people (that work well together) your success might be limited. You want your team to enact your company’s goals and vision, people who not only want to work hard, but want to be here.
Please check out these 21 effective team building strategies that will get you where you want to be.
Table of Contents
21 Effective Team Building Strategies
- Selective Hiring
- Conflict Management
- Establish Trust
- Define Roles
- Set Ground Rules
- Give and Accept Feedback
- Acknowledge and Reward
- Always Celebrate Success
- Hold Regular Corporate Retreats
- Nurture Leaders, Not Workers
- Frequent Collaboration and Not Just Communication
- Give Employees Autonomy
- Invest In Team-Building Events
- Dismantle the Hierarchy
You want to make sure that the most basic of basics are taken care of, which starts with hiring. This is the first stage of any good team build and should be handled with care and intention. You know your company’s vision and what sort of people you want to work with, but those applying might not. When going through the hiring process, simply going by your gut or instincts might not be good enough. Any hiree’s work experience and professional qualifications do matter, but we should be looking beyond that.
Truly constructive teams unify around single goals and purpose, where everyone can pursue their work with cooperative fervor. When tackling a new hire, make sure the team that works with them takes part in the interview process and has a say in each applicant. You will be able to knock down any barriers or obstacles that might come up early on, and if you work with your team you will show them you care about their opinions and preferences.
Any hard-working team begins with purpose and confidence. A good team is one whose cohesion is built upon morale and encouragement. This is partly the responsibility of management, whose responsibility is to engender this encouragement and do things to galvanize group morale. Pay attention to the individuals on your team: Who is stressed? Who is anxious? Who is bringing people down?
Similarly, a manager’s job is acknowledging who is bringing what to the team. Recognition is immensely important, and people want to be praised. Even if it’s as small as an email or a note, if you take a few minutes out of each day to note what everyone is doing well and praise them for it, you are going to see working dividends in team building strategy.
“The rolling stone gathers no moss.” Certainly, you’ve heard this phrase, and it very much applies to your workplace. Change is scary, but it’s necessary and important. Productive teams will change and adapt to meet the needs of the day-to-day, from microcosms of email/site changes to the macro of workplace policies. Effective team members want to grow in business climates that are adapting themselves to our changing world.
A good team is constructed out of individuals whose skills and personalities push the reset of the team forward. You want people who are constantly looking out for opportunities to grow, where they can expand the workplace and make strides to be better every day.
We all know how powerful active listening is, but how many of us actually know how to do it? How many of us take the time to become better active listeners? Every single person in existence is capable of structured, unique, and powerful ideas. Not everyone will contribute if they believe they aren’t listened to, and there could be incredibly important members of your team that never speak up because they believe no one hears them.
Everyone needs to make an effort to listen to each other. If you create this safe space, you will collectively find better ideas, respect, and increased morale. You may be utterly shocked at how many creative new ideas and solutions might come from team members that are no longer afraid of speaking up.
None of us like to admit mistakes, but the most successful people know that admitting mistakes (and correcting them) is the quickest path to proper growth. We all make poor decisions from time to time, but stubbornness and pride are the enemies. Sometimes when a plan doesn’t work, the resulting mistakes and lessons create a better, more organized team. The very best teams know that course correction is a structured and impactful component of a cohesive network that improves team building strategy.
How many times have you enjoyed conflict? Conflict is difficult, but it isn’t always bad. Conflict arises when conflicting ideas and strategies meet, and it is how we develop and refine our best proposals. The issue is when conflict gets out of hand and disagreements turn into something toxic. This is when we need to challenge our thinking and consider the perspectives of others.
The most constructive teams respect one another. Working through conflict is what matters, and we should never allow our differences of perspective to divide us. When properly managed, conflict can actually be a boon. In some circumstances, it should even be encouraged.
Fostering creativity is how we can make sure our teams thrive under any circumstance. It’s great when workplaces encourage non-linear thinking, but sometimes the only way to really foster creativity is by getting out of the office. When we step into different environments we can reach more relaxed states, which translates into more cohesive brainstorming.
Take your team to new locations and help everyone bond through these shared experiences. You don’t have to take your team to Hawaii or anything like that, simply get everyone out of the building once a month. Go to a restaurant or walk in the park. Have a symposium instead of an office meeting and discuss team building strategy.
Each team member brings something different to the table, whether it’s experience, knowledge, leadership, or cohesion. Building up your team requires that you know what everyone brings with them, but also that everyone else is aware of the individuals on that team. Management should always be aware of the tools that are available, but they should also make sure the rest of the team is working together to know these things about themselves.
Do you know how your employees view one another? Do you know who has respect and who doesn’t? Do you know who works well together? Keeping a steady eye on gifts and strengths (as well as weaknesses) will allow you to know how your team best functions. You can handle the shortfalls of your team and rely on its strengths.
Remember, your team is made up of real people. This doesn’t mean that every single person is buddy-buddy when the workday is over, but it is helpful all the same for everyone to at least get to know each other and be on friendly terms. People are more than their jobs, and spending some time together outside the office will make life inside the office all the better.
Relationship-building activities (such as team building, lunches, scavenger hunts, games) can really push bonding to the forefront. We need to learn about one another to develop trust and friendship, and this will create a long-lasting, unified environment.
Trust is an irreplaceable part of any constructive, lasting relationship. When it comes to our professional relationships, the trust shared between team members is the basis for reaching shared goals, keeping open communication, and rising to challenges.
It’s no surprise that the average person trusts friendly strangers more than they trust their boss. Many people don’t like to work and don’t want to be at work. If you have a trust issue in the workplace, you could be wearing your team thin without even knowing it. There are a few ways to strengthen the bond with your team.
Have patience, as trust is a consideration and is built over time. You will inspire trust and loyalty if you remain calm and allow your employees to know where they’re at with you. Be open and flexible, and be transparent with your needs and wants. When you provide feedback (and ask for returned feedback) you will increase that transparency. Most importantly, team exercises such as scavenger hunts and other effective team building strategies will forge a bond of trust.
Too often in any situation, we don’t know where we stand with people. There are many different personalities on your team, and every personality type needs something different in order for the wheels of your team to be effectively greased.
When you define people’s responsibilities beyond specific goals, your team can better utilize its individual talents while creating the cohesion of a single entity. Your team wants to know where they belong and they want to achieve their goals, so when both you and your team members have defined roles, they can better function.
Here are a few examples of role types:
- The Champion: this person enjoys moderating the morale of the group and promoting change.
- The Creator: this is your idea person, the one who is always coming up with creative new solutions or adapting quickly to unique challenges.
- The Implementor: this person enjoys follow-through, and wants to be defined by their tasks.
- The Facilitator: this is your relationship person, who is constantly aware of how people are feeling and helps the team bond.
Set Ground Rules
You are the manager, it’s your team, but the team itself should be free to make its own rules when it comes to the day-to-day. Help them establish rules that might relate to communication or deadlines, or how they conquer goals or face obstacles. When this freedom is established and everyone knows the ground rules, you can allow some flexibility when it comes to navigating the day-to-day.
Maintain that your ground rules are actually flexible and can change based on the needs of the team. Create an open-door policy, ensure that your employees remain professional and kind, and establish a baseline of respect.
Give and Accept Feedback
It’s a fact that highly-engaged employees receive weekly feedback. Those with lower company engagement receive less feedback and less praise. When feedback is provided in a positive, supportive way it can generate an individual’s impactful development, which in turn serves to identify issues and increases self-awareness. Team members help each other develop in ways you may not notice, and when obstacles are removed and success is noted, they should know about it. Addressing your team members with respect can build a constructive environment that fosters the professional growth you’re looking for.
Acknowledge and Reward
Everyone loves recognition, and with recognition comes rewards. We all want to be respective, and we are appreciative of respect (and wish to return it). Take some time out of your day or month to recognize your teammates with emails, accolades, and rewards they have earned. Everyone works hard, and so everyone is deserving of something that’s more than just a paycheck. If you’re the type of manager who thinks people are just “doing their job” then you will only see them at the bare minimum.
Right now, everyone wants to feel like they are making a difference in the world, even a small one. If you want to be a more thoughtful leader, make sure your team knows you are paying attention to their efforts. Real, genuine acknowledgments go a long way and will build the trust you’ve been looking for. This is a simple way to effectively build trust and competence across your entire team.
Always Celebrate Success
We are living through a time of bleak uncertainty. We should be taking every opportunity available to make people feel celebrated. This goes above and beyond basic recognition, it’s about fully reflecting upon our accomplishments as both individuals and members of the team.
Even if you’re used to experiencing success, in today’s quickly changing world we are not reflecting on where that success might be coming from, and how that success might impact each other and ourselves. Too many team leaders and managers have simply used their success as an example of further success, and this sort of self-aggrandizement can be a downfall. True, persevering success comes from unified efforts and effective team building strategy.
To be honest with ourselves we must acknowledge that success is fleeting and celebration is short-lived. Taking the time out of your day to celebrate small successes will build over time. Your team will reach new heights and find new successes if you make everyone aware of the team dynamics and diversity that has led to these shared successes.
Hold Regular Corporate Retreats
We need a break, and I’m not talking about hiding in the bathroom or taking a long lunch. Constant work makes people unmotivated and hostile, and during these tumultuous times, you might notice your team becoming distant. If you notice this happening, it’s time to schedule a corporate or team retreat and rebuild some of the lost motivation for effective team building strategies.
Leaving the office behind for a little fun is a good way to build rapport with your team. Whether it’s games, events, team scavenger hunts, or other team building activities, there are lots of things that can be done with a group of friends that everyone will enjoy.
A benefit of this is your team members will see the human side of their boss and manager. Chilling on the beach or going on an adventure will humanize everyone, and prevent burn-out. After you go on a corporate retreat you will be able to see a much improved and rested team.
Nurture Leaders, Not Workers
You may not realize but your next great leader is probably someone you’ve already hired. Good leaders are motivators, they know how to commit themselves to the task and increase the morale of everyone around them. Leaders come to work ready to go with specific goals in mind. Leaders know how to think about their team, their department, even the entire company, and industry.
Good leaders are just bosses, they are handy implements in any project, and you don’t have to constantly push them to get the results you’re looking for. Leaders want to help their colleagues and they promote success. They know the scope of projects and tasks and know how to use every person around them to great benefit.
You can’t simply hire a leader. Leaders are created through your teams, they’re grown through the projects you do and the way you handle the flow of the workplace. Your next great leader will make themselves known naturally, if only you know how to look.
Frequent Collaboration and Not Just Communication
Teams require frequent communication and collaboration to fully function. This is how team members share ideas, face challenges, communicate instructions, and resolve conflict. Good communication engenders and enhances collaboration, and when people feel like they are listened to, they will feel free to ask important questions and give answers without being afraid.
Your managers should be making sure that team members have regular one-on-one meetings and proper brainstorming sessions. If you create agendas that focus on topics, you can ensure that every meeting is beneficial and important.
Give Employees Autonomy
Experimentation and goal-setting is at its peak when we have the freedom to try without fear. When we fail, we should know that there is a network to catch us and support us. Our offices should be places of trial and error where strategy and ingenuity pay off. These are places where effective team building strategies can flourish.
One of the best managing methods is when your team members are granted personal levels of autonomy and freedom on their projects. With this freedom, you will see your employees relish in this trust. Some people might need additional help along the way, but you will notice many of your team members run with their new freedom and create new things that are night and day against old habits. If you create a team where everyone is afraid to be creative or show ingenuity, your employees will stagnate and look elsewhere. You should take a chance on people if you want them to truly succeed.
Invest In Team-Building Events
You can best strengthen the relations between team members by investing in community events and experiences that they can engage in. Events will build communication, and they will make your team members more excited to work together. When events are joyful, educational, and entertaining, you will find many experiences that push the boundary of who you thought your team members were.
Effective team building strategies and events include scavenger hunts, social events, hiking, sailing, golfing, go-karting, board games, video games, movies, picnics, and more. There really is no limit to what you can come up with, and your entire team will be grateful for whatever type of activity they get to do together.
Dismantle the Hierarchy
It may sound a little strange, but the days of the “boss” are rapidly closing. Your employees don’t want a boss. They don’t want to be herded, and they don’t want to be belittled. They want a leader. The hierarchies of yesteryear are things of established resentment that bring out the anxiety and fear of your team. This sort of archaic authoritarian design compromises motivation, creativity, productivity, and morale.
Your workers aren’t subordinates. They are people who have been hired based on the collection of skills and values that you saw in them. They want to be empathized with, and they want to work in a place that respects and enjoys them. Your team members wish to see you as a leader, but they are adults that don’t need to be talked down to. Your employees are assets and when you see them as people and celebrate their individuality, you will see dividends that will also be noticed by your business.
This is the apex of team building, where the team is created based on the strengths of the people involved.
Teamwork is monumentally important, and effective team building strategies start and end with trust, clear communication, and belief in your team. Your team members want to be involved. They want to work hard and they want to be celebrated. If you build your team based on these very human factors, the success you see will be monumental. The team building games and events that you host for your team members will be used as a way to celebrate who they are and what they can bring to the table.