By Cheryl G. Murphy, OD
Teambuilding workshops, events and retreats claim to increase communication, boost teamwork and enhance the feeling of unity among co-workers. Many activitiesat such events are physically strenuous: rock climbing, rowing, relay races and cracking the codes of riddle puzzles. This maybe fine for some,but thereare alternatives for those who want to build socialization and bonding experiences among their employees without the pressure of athletic or mental performance.
Cheryl Murphy, OD, creating the kind of work of art you and your staff can create at a local studio that offers classes.
Do Volunteer Work as a Group: There are many opportunities to team up and help the community at the same time through food and clothing drives, charity walks or by donating time to local shelters, soup kitchens or other organizations. Local Boys and Girls Club chaptersmay accept seasonal donations for kids or families in need.,such as Easter baskets filled with treats that your crafty staff might like to assemble. Maybe a charity walk or run is in need of volunteers to help check in runners or distribute water.
Or you could use your optometric and optical know-how by helping VOSH (Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity.) Check out the VOSH web site. It lists the contact e-mail addresses under its State and Regional Chapters link. Compose an e-mail to the VOSH contact person for your state or area to find out about upcoming events and to inquire about other ways you and your employees can donate your skills and time.
Take Group Painting Classes: A painting studio in my local area hosts simple and easy painting classes with step-by-step instructions, music and a fun atmosphere. You do not have to be the least bit artistic and the owners actually they say it’s even better when you know absolutely nothing about painting. I noticed they were hosting a team building event there for Target employees. Together the employees got to relax and laugh as they learned how to paint a very cute dog with the corporate symbol, a red bullseye, cleverly incorporated around his eye. All materials were provided by the studio so the participants did not have to bring anything other than themselves and at the end of the two-hour event, they got to take home their own keepsake work of art which was on a 18 x 18-inch canvas. Just think of all of the clever ways a spectacular pair of spectacles could be added to a fun or funky painting.
Organize a Field Trip: If you are going to suggest the whole crew go somewhere together at a time when they are not supposed to be at work, ask spouses and families to join in on the fun (but leave alcohol consumption out of the picture).If the weatherallows,doan outdoor outing like strawberry, apple or pumpkin picking. Arrange a private group tour of a museum, nature center or local landmark. Attending the same movie might also be a nice reward for employees and their families if you can agree upon a film. Or maybe you could all meet out at your favorite summer ice cream and frozen yogurt shop. It’s important to note that the employers should obviously be treating for these excursions and incurring the fees involved. To keep things fair and costs from going through the roof, a gift card or certificate with a pre-applied yet generous amount could be given to each employee.
Dr. Murphy with her finished masterpiece.
Other tips for casual team-building:
• Make a brief speech or inspirational statement at the start and conclusion of activities, but keep the air casual, positive and appreciative.
• Introductions are OK, but avoid forced, artificial or embarrassing exercises that put people on the spot and risk them feeling uncomfortable.
•Schedule a variety of options of different events at different times, some of which are during work hours (e.g.,assembling gift baskets for the Boys and Girls Club) so that caregivers with a demanding family life or limited physical capabilities are not excluded.Host a different type of event four times a year (one volunteer, one art, one outdoor, one tour).
•Seal in a sense of unity by asking employees to wear a shirt with your company logo or ask everyone to wear the same color.
• Have fun! Despite what some TV reality shows might display, no one wants to participate in activities that reinforce that the boss is the boss. This is your chance to break down that wall for a little while and to relate to employees on a slightly more even playing field.
• Stay Positive. Participation in these events may not be 100 percent at first. Encourage all to attend but do not demand it. Instead, smile and appreciate those who were able to make it and work on making it a positive experience which will build interest in future events for those who did attend and those who could not. A fun, free and fulfilling experience will create its own buzz. Stay the course and remember to include a variety of different activities on different days and times throughout the year. Some events might be a bust or just not pan out the way you expected but keep smiling and try again, you will surely find a few that work well.
Have you ever been to a teambuilding event or retreat? What did you do there? In what ways did it enlighten or change the dynamic of your typical workday relations? What were the benefits, downfalls and shortcomings? In what ways do you weave a sense of togetherness among those you work with? Are holiday parties and birthday cakes just about it?