Everybody comes out of a team building workshop feeling renewed and with a deeper sense of camaraderie. The immediate splash back is that co-workers tend to be more helpful and tolerant of each other a few days after the activity. But unless the team building activities lead to some type of behavior change, the same old monsters are bound to rear their ugly heads again during the next stressful situation.

Companies spend thousands of dollars each year on team building activities and that is not because workers need to hone their egg balancing skills. Team building is supposed to instill values necessary for the company to achieve its targets. But, how do you translate fun and high energy games to real-world workplace skills that have a favorable impact on the bottom line?

Here are some tips to make team building activities more effective:

1. Have a clear-cut purpose for doing the activity. Many issues can plague a workplace – lack of communication, too much divisiveness, incompatible values - the list is long and varied. It is impractical to try to address all issues at once in a single team-building activity so it is important to set a realistic goal. Once you have identified a key issue, all activities can center on highlighting this one specific concern. For example, a common workplace problem is lack of trust between co-workers or across the management chain. Building trust takes time but short team building activities can allow team members to open up to each other. “Getting to know you” activities can encourage people to share personal information and thus allow deeper understanding of each other. It is important to avoid cramming too many activities with incoherent objectives that will only wash-out the goal of the team building.

2. Keep the pace dynamic and interactive. The downside of finding a nice place outdoors for team building is that it can make people so relaxed they would rather do something with friends than participate in activities. To avoid this, it is important to have a series of planned activities complete with icebreakers that will make it more fun to stay with the group than sneak out to enjoy the view. Professional training groups always design activities that encourage participation and engage the whole group. When activities require dividing into teams it is best to stay away from normal groupings such as teams per department or per position as this will tend to encourage even more division. It is also wise to stay away from competitive games especially physical ones that can bring out animosity between winners and losers.

3. Encourage everyone to participate in a debriefing. Make sure to leave enough time and energy for everyone to contribute actively in a debriefing. This is important to get direct feedback from the participants on how they feel about the activity. The debriefing should cover all aspects of the team building from the goal setting to the physical arrangements. Participants can be asked to rate how successful they think the activity was in terms of meeting the agreed goals. They should also be asked to comment on the venue, food, and amenities. All these feedback points are important for planning follow-through activities either in the workplace or with follow up team building activities.

4. Follow-through in the office. This is one of the most important aspects of team building activities – connecting the results of the team building workshop with tangible results in the workplace by reinforcing the values learned from the activities. Trust, for example, can be nurtured by assigning team tasks that would make everyone responsible for the outcome of a project. Communication can be enhanced through regular huddles and less formal meetings. At the end of the day, team building activities are only good if it does indeed build a team.

Author's Bio: 

Rob Jackson is President of Magnovo Training Group, a soft-skills training company focusing on corporate team building, presentation training and leadership development. Rob has been a speaker and trainer for over 20 years specializing in effective leadership, executive presence, personality discovery, relational sales training, presentation skills, and charity team building.

Rob is a member of the National Speaker's Association and has served as President and Chairman on several Executive Leadership boards. In addition to being a Certified DiSC Trainer, Rob has logged hundreds of instructional classroom hours. He is the author of Campfire Leadership, which explores effective leadership from a personality perspective. In all of his efforts Rob's goal is to inspire significant positive change in communities and companies. For more information please visit http://www.magnovo.com.