Team Building Ideas

When John Dunne penned the phrase: “No man is an island”, he could well have been writing about the work ethos of corporate organizations to-day.

For, long gone are the days when the focus was purely on the individual, and personal goals in the workplace. Nowadays, however small the enterprise, the emphasis is on all members working closely together. And, for that, you need plenty of team building ideas, teaching your members how to communicate and interact well together, working collectively towards the same goals. After all, a business can only be truly successful when staff are motivated and pull together as a team.

History of Team Building

McDougall (1920) is reputed to have been the founder of team building, when he stated that there were five different conditions necessary for a highly productive group, although other persons of note, such as Sigmund Freud, have also recognized the benefits of team work.

However, it wasn’t until the early 1980’s that companies in the United States seriously began to introduce a team-based system of working into their firms.

This method of collectively working towards and achieving required goals has now become recognized worldwide, to the extent that numerous consulting firms have set up, their purpose being to advise organisations and corporations on the best way for that particular firm to build its team, along with ideas and activities to improve the team’s performance.

Team Building Consultants

Teambuilding consulting firms possess the knowledge, experience and tools necessary to advise corporations on, first of all building a team, and then getting the very best out of that team.

They’ll discuss with you the specific goals of your organization, taking into account such issues as the needs of your team, their ages, and the size of the group.

They’ll then present you with team building ideas and activities for improving such matters as communication, motivation, goal-setting, problem-solving, decision-making, and trust-building. It’s also important that staff should explore their own strengths and weaknesses, and learn self-regulation.

All of this should result not only in highly-improved team productivity, but also in a more pleasant working atmosphere, making that particular company a more enjoyable place for staff to spend their working day.

Team Building Activities

So, what sort of activities will consultants suggest to help bring out the best in your team?

Team building ideas vary considerably, depending on the sort of organization you are. For, building an effective team is not only essential in the business world, it’s also very much required by other organizations, such as sports teams, youth groups, and cultural groups.

Activities range tremendously, from outdoor activities – both physically demanding and less physically challenging – through to group bonding sessions or behavioural-based activities designed to improve group functioning.

At the end of the day, whatever type of organization you have, a well-managed team will result not only in success, but also in its members being more motivated and working confidently towards their collective goals.

Top 5 Reasons Why Team Building Games Fail, and How to Avoid Them

When a Californian home security company chose their team building games, little did they know that the program would end disastrously, not just for the employees but for the company as well.

In the fiercely competitive game, sales teams were pitted against each other. Throughout the game, the competitors’ name posts were fixed in strategic places to make the employees ‘fight the crap out of each other’. In the end, the winning team ridiculed the losing team by making them wear diapers, feeding them baby food and throwing pies at them.

After the event, employees sued the company and it had to pay out USD1.7 million as damages! So much for honorable intentions!

A huge number of team building games fails because they share at least a few – if not all – of the elements above. They think that the best team games are those that pit teams against each other through fierce contests and throw up clear winners and losers. This is ironic because most companies desire more cooperation between employees, not fierce competitiveness. They want an atmosphere where knowledge is shared and success is achieved together. Then, where is the sense in selecting team building games where the focus is on competition rather than cooperation?

Some of the main reasons why team building games fail are as follows:

  • No understanding of final goals and objectives: Many employers like to spring a surprise on their employees but this can be counterproductive. When participants do not know the end goals, there could be seriously hostility between them. Instead, companies should inform the team members of the teambuilding program. In fact, companies can go one step further and give team members the power to choose. By respecting the team’s views and decisions in the matter and by giving them what they want, companies take the first step towards effective team building.
  • Trying to scare employees into being a team: Facilitators sometimes push a huge challenge on the employees as the very first activity. Quite naturally, this makes more than 90% of the participants hold back from giving their best. Facilitators must design games so that there is proper sequencing of activities starting with games that address the group’s current state of being. Do the team members know each other well? Is there a conflict that must be resolved before the team can work as one? The level of complexity must go up slowly to ensure that everyone is able to contribute evenly.
  • Stiff competition = rivalry: Competition is not the basis for team work, cooperation is. According to studies, more than 87% of times, greater advantage goes to teams that took the cooperative approach instead of the competitive one. The reasons are not hard to find. When you try to make one team (or team member) win, everyone loses. If people get a feeling that they weren’t good enough, it lowers their performance. Often, competition uncovers the inner jerk in the participants and some people may even try unfair means just so they can win. Besides, people learn much less when they are fighting against each other. Therefore, team building games must focus on imparting lessons instead of finding and rewarding winners.
  • Lack of commitment: Sometimes, management makes the mistake of considering the program an exercise in futility, something that is done to keep the employees in good humor. This feeling gets conveyed to teams automatically and results are unsatisfactory. Team building is a value mission and there must be a belief at the highest level that the company thrives on the culture of team spirit.
  • Working with the wrong consultant: Finally, the quality of team building games is only as good as the quality of the team building Event Company you are working with. Experts in the field have the technical proficiency to guide management in choosing the best activities for their goals. When looking for a team building consultant, it is vital to find someone who is passionate about what they do and are ready to work with you for the success of your team.

If a company has had a bad experience with team building games in the past, the reasons are likely to be one or more of the above.

How to Make a Building More Energy Efficient

Each day, thousands of people make a conscious effort to “go green” and become more eco conscious. While Al Gore may have popularized the idea in the documentary An Inconvenient Truth, citizens of the world have been banding together for years to help save the planet. Individually, each of us can contribute to the overall sustainability of the Earth’s resources to guarantee safe and livable conditions for future generations of all species, humans included. Energy consumption is one huge part of the puzzle. Humans are consuming electricity, primarily from coal-burning plants and other fossil fuels at an unprecedented rate in just living our day-to-day lives. One way to make a large impact on the amount of energy consumed is to conserve — make buildings everywhere more energy efficient and environmentally sustainable. Energy sufficiency needs to be our big picture goal.

The following are ways to make an existing building more energy efficient:

• Start with what is called the “low hanging fruit” -Weatherization: Check the building’s insulation: Old, warn insulation, inefficient windows and air leaks will increase the rate at which heat leaves a structure during cold weather months and cooled air in summer. This will require the heating and air conditioning systems to use more energy to keep the building at the desired temperature. Installing additional insulation and caulking leaks is pretty easily done and pays big dividends in saving energy and money. Many communities now have Energy Audit services and Weatherization programs available to help with this effort and these programs are also investing in creating training and employment for “green jobs”.

• Turn off lights and unplug electronic devices that are not in use. Significant reduction of electric usage can happen by simply flipping the light switch or pulling the plug or investing in a smart power strip for your tv, computer and other energy hog appliances. Also, replace incandescent lights with compact florescent bulbs – Florescent light bulbs last upwards of 10,000 hours and use approximately 27 watts of energy to generate the same amount of light as 100-watt incandescent bulbs, which have a lifespan of only 1,000 hours. This not only conserves energy, but also eliminates the waste that is created from constantly having to replace incandescent bulbs.

• Replace older furnaces and HVAC systems – Furnaces that utilize a standing pilot light waste up to 35% of the fuel that it burns. Additionally, upgrading to more modern HVAC systems will help save energy in air filtration, as well as provide the building with a cleaner, healthier airflow. There are several tax and other rebates in place now to help with this investment, so while it may be pricey to replace old furnaces and HVAC units, you will save money in the long run with reduced heating and cooling costs with the additional incentive of a hefty rebate.

• Utilize electronics with the ENERGY STAR logo – Many commercial buildings use thousands of electronic devices, from computers to microwaves. According to its government sponsored website, ENERGRY STAR is “a government-backed program helping businesses and individuals protect the environment through superior energy efficiency.” Making use of ENERGY STAR sponsored products can reduce energy use by up to 50%.

These are just four of the many different ways to make a building “greener.” Never hesitate to contact an energy efficient building consultant if you have questions or concerns regarding strategies so that you can be more energy efficient, saving money and doing your part toward sustainability and energy independence.