Experiential Team Building – can it work to make your team more effective?
On the surface, experiential team building is a fun day away from the office. People get a buzz from trying new activities, pushing themselves to their limits, and enjoying themselves with their colleagues. Also, research supports the view well-designed, well-facilitated experiential learning programs make people more effective at problem solving, communication and recognizing diversity.
The thing is, we can’t measure a person’s motivation. We have to infer they’re motivated from their behavior. We have no way of knowing what motivates someone to work well at the office, to contribute effectively to a project, to go ‘above and beyond’ for the sake of a work assignment. Even if they tell us what motivates them, there’s always a chance it may not be true.
So what can we do to get the work performance we want from a team?
A motivated team:
- Has a common purpose which is clear to the members and is aligned with their values.
- Faces a challenge, together. It needs to be a worthy challenge, but not impossible. It’s usually something one person alone is unable to achieve. It needs the skills of the whole team.
- Has a sense of camaraderie. The team’s interpersonal relationships are functional. Lines of communication are open. Team members provide mutual support and encouragement.
- Takes responsibility and has authority. This contributes to teams remaining motivated over longer time periods. (But be careful – if the organization has a blame culture, or a tendency to punish errors, responsibility can be viewed negatively and may be demotivating).
- Supports opportunities to grow and learn new skills. Learning, developing expertise, stretching minds. These all enhance self-esteem and help motivation levels remain high.
If you want a motivated workforce, you need to create an environment that supports these characteristics. You need to build an organizational culture that allows teams to thrive by:
- Being sure of their purpose.
- Understanding their team members.
- Promoting open communication and feedback.
- Delegating appropriately.
- Providing staff development opportunities.
Experiential team-building activities have the potential to be an important part of such a strategy. They build self-confidence and social skills. They teach people how to deal with an element of risk – all things which will help create a motivated team.
Team performance comes from more than being motivated. Sometimes, there are other qualities needed; qualities team building activities will promote. But a day or two of well-designed experiential team building can have a substantial impact. The novelty and physicality of the experience and the personal risks involved, contribute to people being willing to do a bit more, to strive a bit harder, both at work and at play.
Red Lodge Ropes Course, a division of NexLevel Challenge, works with businesses that share our mindset, philosophy, and values of Connection, Fun & Excellence. Our powerful experiential training programs create high performance teams.