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Leadership training isn’t just for leaders. If your organization is thinking about leadership training too narrowly, you could be missing out on big opportunities to improve communication, collaboration, and productivity across your enterprise.

Companies often view leadership training as something that’s helpful for new managers, as well as junior managers looking to advance within the organization. But it can actually be helpful for just about everyone in your organization.

That’s because leadership is more than just a title; it’s about how you act and react to people and situations. It’s about improving “people skills” as opposed to technical skills, answering questions such as: How do I communicate more effectively? How do I resolve unproductive conflict? How do I build relationships to help get things done?

Here are several reasons to look at leadership training more broadly.

Today’s Uncertain Labor Market

With record levels of employees voluntarily leaving companies as well as workers taking early retirement, companies are recognizing the need to improve their “bench strength” at every level.

It’s not only about preparing senior director-level talent to move into a VP or CxO role, but also about backfilling director spots, training managers to move into director roles, and preparing talented, ambitious individual contributors to make the move into management.

Leadership training can also help with retention. When employees see that their company is making an investment in them and helping prepare them to advance in their careers, it increases satisfaction, engagement, and loyalty.

The “Superstar” Problem

Quite often, the people who get promoted into management positions are those who are strong performers as individual contributors, whether in finance, marketing, operations, or another function.

This is particularly true of salespeople. The hope of management is that by promoting their top-performing sales person into a sales leadership role, they can replicate that strong performance.

But for many people, making the leap from being a strong individual performer to becoming an effective leader is challenging. That individual became very good at accounting, or sales, or whatever their role may have been, by honing their technical skills over many years. Leading others, however, requires a very different skillset.

The problem is that many companies don’t have the structure or training process in place to mentor the new mentor. So, new leaders are left on their own. That’s where leadership training comes in; pulling them out of the office gives them an opportunity to stop and think.

It starts with a behavioral assessment, asking the new leader to look in the mirror first, to be able to say, “This is what drives me in the workplace. This is how I communicate. This is how I interact with people.”

Then we ask them to flip the mirror and say, “Okay, these are the people whom I now work with. How do they behave in the workplace? How do they communicate? How do I interact with them?” Leading becomes less about the leader and more about the team they manage.

It’s Not About You

In making the move from individual contributor to leader, the employee needs to shift their focus from doing a task well to increasing the skills of others. It can be tempting for new leaders to keep “doing the work,” which leads to lack of focus, resentment from the team, and even burn out.

It’s challenging to go from managing one’s own to-do list to leading a team of people, each with their own task lists. An individual who may have been comfortable as an individual contributor in sales or accounting is now being pulled into more meetings, called upon to resolve conflicts, and asked to coach others.

They may know that having regular one-on-one meetings with their team members is part of their role, but they may not understand how to get the most out of these. Those individual conversations are more than just a status check—that can be done with email. They are opportunities to coach, to make sure employees are engaged, and to help them improve their direct or indirect job skills.

Leadership training helps managers to not only do the right things, but to do those things consistently well.

One Size Does Not Fit All

Any work team may include one person who is eager to get promoted; another who loves their role and never wants to get promoted; another who has young children at home and whose focus is therefore on work-life balance; and others, each with their own priorities.

Managing each of those people requires a somewhat different skillset or approach. Being an effective leader requires learning how to recognize and adjust to those different perspectives.

Individuals often under-perform or limit themselves because of obstacles they’ve unconsciously placed in their own way. It may be an attitude, a belief, or a shortcoming they are unaware of.

Leadership training helps managers help employees to recognize the limitations or hurdles they’ve placed in their own way, so they work to change those things. The employee often can’t articulate why they’re not performing; they can’t figure it out. Leaders need to understand different approaches they can try to help the employee see the answers that are right in front of them.

Managing Up, Down, and Across

It’s clear why new leaders and even experienced managers can benefit from leadership training, but what about that employee who loves being an individual contributor and isn’t interested in a promotion to management—how can leadership training benefit them?

First, it helps them learn to “manage up” more proficiently; to influence their boss so they can get what they need in order to be more productive in their job. The basis of leadership training is empathy and communication, which can improve outcomes when an employee is talking to their boss just as much as when the boss is coaching that employee.

Second, it helps people to “manage across” more effectively. A great deal of work today is done collaboratively. Employees rely on others, in their own department or other parts of the business, in order to accomplish goals. The ability to influence others is just as important when working with a peer who is not a direct report as it is when managing and coaching subordinates.

Third, it helps employees to better understand how their manager thinks, and why they do or say certain things. Developing the ability to understand that perspective helps employees to ask better questions when meeting with their manager, and to improve that working relationship.

Finally, most employees value increasing their skills, and appreciate their employer investing in them. This may mean direct skills like sales training or classes with CPE credits. It may mean learning indirectly helpful knowledge like presentation skills. Or it may mean enhancing their interpersonal relationship skills through leadership training.

Wrapping It Up – the Best Leadership Training Programs

Leadership training can benefit virtually every employee in an organization in some way. And it’s a wise investment for companies to make: it helps increase retention, develop bench strength, assist employees with the transition from being strong individual contributors to effective leaders, and help non-management employees better communicate up and across the organization.

Among the key skills employees develop through leadership training are communicating more effectively; resolving conflicts; coaching and developing others; goal setting and time management; strategic thinking; and relationship building.

Leadership and professional development programs offered by Best Corporate Events include:

Conflict Resolution Training

Managing conflict effectively can make the difference between a simple “bump in the road” or lost productivity and long-term animosity in the workplace. Participants learn strategies to engender a workplace culture better equipped to handle conflict.

DiSC Profile Workshop

Participants are introduced to the DiSC Model, a behavior assessment tool that helps professionals understand their own styles of behavior and communication, as well as those of their colleagues.

Learning how to manage these styles can help participants eliminate bad habits, minimize conflict, and improve the overall success of their team.

Manager’s Guide to Business Coaching

Constructive guidance and consistent coaching are critical responsibilities of all managers, but the best managers utilize proven coaching practices that can strengthen relationships, bolster trust, and reap the benefits of open and positive communication.

Emotional Intelligence Training

An Emotionally Intelligent company is one in which each member understands their Emotional Quotient (E.Q.) and how best to tap into it for professional growth. Applying E.I. within an organization can build trust and encourage open communication.

In short, as noted in the opening, leadership training isn’t just for leaders. Employees at all levels can benefit from learning how to productively influence others. These training programs are ultimately about helping your team members better understand each other by first learning more about themselves.

As technology automates more and more simple, linear tasks, more of the work that people do involves collaboration. Put another way, professionals today spend less time on individual, solo tasks than in the past and more time working as part of a team.

New products are designed by teams. New software is developed by teams. Sales are often closed by teams. New system procurement decisions are made by teams. Even this blog post was created by a team (a writer, a facilitator/subject matter expert, an editor/coordinator, and a webmaster).

Our last post, How Team Building Makes New Employees More Productive, Faster, detailed four ways that team building programs help get new (or new-to-the-role) employees up to speed more quickly by helping them get to know, understand, and connect with their coworkers.

Team building also helps teams to be more effective and productive. Regardless of how long each individual member of a team has been employed in the organization, any time a new team is formed there are phases it will pass through before reaching full productivity.

Team building can help accelerate that formation process, helping teams become more productive more quickly. In his classic book on group and team communications, author Donald B. Egolf, Ph.D., defines four stages of team development: forming, storming, norming, and performing.

Forming

The forming stage is the “playing nicely together in the sandbox” phase. Everyone is polite, deferential, and on their best behavior. There’s an almost artificial niceness as everyone is feeling things out. This generally lasts only for a relatively brief period of time before teams go into the next stage, storming.

Storming

The storming stage is where conflicts begin to arise. There are behavioral differences that come up. There are certain irritations and annoyances that are surfaced. There are differences of opinion about what’s going to happen, or how to proceed.

Norming

Effective teams work through those issues and move into the norming stage, as they start to figure out how to work together. They ask, “How are we going to operate?” They come up with team agreements. They understand and accept each others’ differences. They define when and how they will communicate, and how they will work together.

Performing

If the team does a good job getting through that norming process, it reaches the performing stage, becoming a high-performing team.

How Team Building Helps

In a typical work environment, teams can languish in those early stages of the forming and storming for a long time as they’re feeling each other out. This is even more of a danger when people are working remotely, as their interactions with each other are much more limited.

Team building activities can accelerate this process; you can get through the forming stage pretty quickly and get into some storming. Storming within groups—having some challenges in a team-building activity—isn’t a bad thing. It’s actually helpful.

It’s not that you want groups constantly struggling at a team-building activity, of course. But having a few frustrations and needing to work things out among team members can be a great thing, because it gives members the tools and knowledge to better understand each other and begin creating some norms.

If they can go through the process of forming, storming, and then creating some norms during their orientation stage when solving an inconsequential team building problem (such as a Crack the Case mystery activity or an Amazing Chase SmartHunt®, as opposed to a real-world business problem), it will help them move through those stages much faster when they’re back in the workplace, and hopefully, reach a high-performing level more quickly.

How long does it take for a new employee to become fully productive? Estimates from different studies vary widely, from six months to eight months to a year to as long as two years.

The process of onboarding a new employee (or a current employee transitioning into a new role) can’t be skipped over or short-circuited. As Dick Grote, performance management consultant and author of How to Be Good at Performance Appraisals has said, “The idea of a new employee ‘hitting the ground running’ is a farce. You know what happens if you do that? You fall on your face.”

There are many aspects to bringing a new employee up to speed, of course, from learning about the company and its products or services to understanding the requirements of the role and the supporting technology.

But one of the most critical factors is getting to know the people they will be working with. What are each person’s strengths and unique knowledge? Are they outgoing or introverted? A “numbers person” or someone who operates more on gut instinct? Do they like to talk things out, or are they more of a “just the facts” type? Visually oriented? A good listener?

One of the best ways to get new employees productive more quickly is to find a way to get them acquainted with the people they’ll be working with most closely. This will enable them to communicate more effectively with each coworker and avoid missteps or misunderstandings. And the best way to accomplish that is through team building!

Here are four ways team building activities help make new employees (or new-to-the-role employees) more productive, more quickly.

It Breaks Down Barriers

Team building breaks down barriers by removing the shackles of work. It’s not about deadlines and priorities; it’s about addressing communication skills, learning how to deal with conflict, and building relationships at a deeper level.

One of the biggest challenges when starting in a new role is getting to know people well enough to work with them productively. Just being introduced to Jane in accounting is fine, but team building short circuits the process of getting to know coworkers, to really understand what they are like and how to communicate effectively with them. It’s informal, it’s light-hearted, it’s easy, and it’s non-threatening.

In team building exercises, the groups can be departmental but are often cross-functional to help build relationships across the organization. In any case, doing a team building event helps employees break down barriers, create openness, and get to know each other on a more personal level.

It Helps Align Actions with Team Goals

Team building is really about aligning actions with team goals: improve performance, create synergies, and deliver results. The reason to do a team building event/workshop is to get your team firing on all cylinders.

You’ve put together this group of people with different backgrounds and strengths, and you want to leverage all of those strengths. You also want to address any shortcomings someone may have to help with their career development and benefit the team.

Professional development programs are about getting to that next level with a person to make it easier to have challenging discussions. It makes it easier to have a conversation about changing processes or bringing on somebody new, and to align these actions with team goals.

It Builds Connections

Often (particularly in large organizations), teams in different locations need to coordinate efforts. How do you create that connectivity? The challenge goes beyond just holding a team meeting over Zoom. Team-building activities help those groups learn how to solve a problem together and how to include everybody in the solution.

The crux of that is communication skills. Some team members will be alphas, while others are followers. Team building programs require all team members to work together to accomplish the goal. It creates a situation where you align everyone’s individual actions for the greater good.

It Creates a Shared Experience

Team building creates a shared experience that gives people something in common even if they don’t have much otherwise. You may have an extrovert and an introvert, but they built a bike together for a donation. And even if they weren’t on the same team, they can compare how their teams solved a specific problem. They have that shared experience to talk about.

In Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the bottom two layers are physiological needs (food and shelter) and safety. Once those are satisfied, people are looking to be valued, included, to have a seat at the table, to make a difference. That’s what team building does. It checks all those boxes.

Wrapping Up

The faster a new employee can become fully productive, the better it is for everyone involved. It’s good for the business. It’s good for team members who want to be able to rely on each other. And it’s good for the individual new employee, who wants to feel they are spending their work time contributing to the organization—not just watching safety and training videos.

A key component in bringing new employees up to speed is integrating them into the work environment, helping them get to know and understand their coworkers well enough to communicate effectively and avoid misunderstandings.

Programs like escape rooms or our Escape SmartHunt® are great for bringing new employees on board because the clues pull on different strengths: memory, visual, reasoning. By relying on different people’s skillsets, they keep the whole team involved and working collaboratively.

Trivia games or programs like Best Corporate Feud are also effective. They can be customized to include company facts and information, making them educational as well as fun and challenging for new employees.

Finally, any of our charitable CSR programs like our Bike Build Donation®, Build-a-Wheelchair® program, or STEM Backpacks for Kids work well for new employee orientation, as teams work collaboratively to assemble items then donate them to worthy charities. They not only enhance teamwork but also build a memorable, emotional bond.

Team building can help employees get acquainted with the people they’ll be working with most closely and learn how to collaboratively solve problems with the team in a fun and non-threatening setting.

It accelerates team development, breaks down barriers, helps to align actions with team goals, builds connections, and creates a shared experience. In so doing, it helps new employees become more productive, faster.

Burnout. Turnover. The Great Resignation. Labor shortages. A common thread across all of these issues is low employee morale. The good news is there is a solution—an answer that’s more effective, more fun, and less costly than big pay increases.

As noted here previously, team building should be job #1 as employees return to work post-COVID. Team building turbocharges morale because it’s interactive, engaging, reconnective, and it plants seeds for building new relationships.

Many companies have hired employees on a full-time remote basis during the pandemic. Many of these employees have never actually met most of their coworkers (other than perhaps as a video image in a Zoom box). And many long-time employees haven’t seen (or at least haven’t seen much of) each other since early 2020.

The fun team building programs we’ve delivered lately, whether they’re charity-focused or competitive events, have reunited people. Face-to-face is exciting. It’s rejuvenating. It’s folks getting to see and associate with each other in three dimensions again.

Here are three ways team building positively impacts employee morale.

Reunited and It Feels So Good

At one of our recent live team building events, 20% of the client’s workforce was hired during COVID. This is the first time they were ever meeting their other coworkers in person. The longer-term employees were also thrilled to finally get together live again.

But team building isn’t just about reconnecting, as crucial as that is in boosting morale. It also provides the opportunity to meet in a non-work setting and solve fun problems, engaging with each other in collaborative and unifying ways.

When professional facilitation, the right venue, and clear purpose—whether team building or team building with charity—are brought together, people have fun and feel good about benefiting their community.

More Than a Paycheck

Many employees today are rethinking where they work and why they work there. That’s part of The Great Resignation; workers are asking, what am I getting besides a paycheck? Why am I working so hard? Do I believe in what I’m doing and where I’m going, personally and professionally?

When people see that their organizations are willing to re-engage in a team-building program and reach out to the community, that says something to them about the company they work with and the corporate culture.

And people are taking a hard look at that element of culture. Is it just to work us as hard as possible to maximize the bottom line…or is it more than that? Do they care about me, my personal and professional growth, about giving me the opportunity for continued education within the organization? Are they reaching out to the community and showing who they are as a company? And do I believe in that?

And if so, how important is it for me to be involved in a program where we’re not only thinking about what’s happening within the organization, but we’re benefiting the community around us? That electrifies morale.

It makes employees feel more connected to the organization, to believe that leadership cares about their professional growth, and shows it with continued workshops and the opportunity to be coached by people within the organization to help move up the ladder.

Combining fun collaboration with professional interpersonal skills development and community service is tremendous for boosting morale. It gives employees a reason to work and to stay beyond just getting a paycheck.

New Work State of Mind

Much has been written about the pandemic’s toll on mental health. The mix of fear, anxiety, isolation, sense of loss, and frustration has many employees reassessing where and why they work.

People have been through a lot. They feel the need to get together and reconnect. To help employees improve their mental health and re-establish their connections—to each other and to the organization—companies are using team building programs to bring workers together to collaborate in an environment that’s high on fun and creativity and virtually stress-free.

Study after study shows that laughter, fun, and engagement are good for mental and physical health. Laughing is good for your blood pressure, your diaphragm, your face, and your brain. To have fun and interact in an engaging way with colleagues is more vital than ever in light of COVID and the effect it’s had on everyone.

The Heart of the Matter

Every team building program incorporates fundamental pillars: communication, collaboration, problem-solving, and leadership. In today’s environment, they provide the added benefit of improving morale through healthy re-engagement.

Many activities also involve fun competition. The winners may receive certificates, medals, or gift cards. But the value, for both participants and the organization, comes from the shared experience.

Though in-person events have the greatest impact, virtual get-togethers can also help improve morale. They still engage people. Virtual options include everything from professional development (presentation skills, meeting management, time management) to outright fun with challenges like escape rooms. Virtual game shows and trivia contests still provide learning, and when company content is added to the mix, the game can become even more relevant to the organization.

Team building events, whether live or virtual, re-energize employee morale by bringing people together, enhancing their connection with each other and the organization, and improving mental health. Again, as noted here previously, there’s only one bad choice when it comes to team building, which is to do nothing at all.

Team building plays a critical role in the new employee onboarding process. It’s as essential as getting set up with a company email account or watching your company’s safety videos—and does even more to get new employees productive quickly.

Part 1 of this series detailed why team building is crucial in new employee orientation. It detailed four ways that these programs can help new employees get to know, understand, and trust their team members.

This post showcases three different types of team building programs that can help new employees get comfortable with their teammates and up to speed as contributing members of the team faster.

Charitable CSR Programs

As noted in our post, Seven Fun Activities for Bringing Teams Back Together Post-COVID, corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs combine the benefits of team building activities—teaching problem-solving, leadership, communication, and collaboration in a fun, engaging way—with giving back to the community. The result is a powerful, emotional experience that increases employee loyalty and engagement.

An excellent choice for an employee orientation activity is our Bike Build Donation®, one of our signature trademarked programs. This is a great exercise to build your team while they build bicycles for donation to disadvantaged kids locally. When people go through that experience of giving back to the community, it brings them together and forges strong bonds. Other popular CSR “Build” programs include Build-a-Wheelchair® and Build-a-Guitar®.

SmartHunts® (High-Tech Scavenger Hunts)

Best Corporate Events’ sister company, SmartHunts®, combines mobile app technology and games with traditional scavenger and city hunts to take these activities to an engaging and interactive new level. In addition to testing participants’ knowledge and collaboration skills, SmartHunts are a great way to discover a new campus, museum, or city. One popular option that’s an excellent choice for employee orientation is the Amazing Chase SmartHunt®.

This program enables your team to star in its own Amazing Race with a technology-driven scavenger hunt. Once formed into teams, participants are given iPads loaded with instructions to explore an area. Along the way, they’ll hunt for clues, complete photo and video challenges, answer quiz questions, solve puzzles, and more as they race to cross the finish line first.

If your goal is to have an enjoyable and memorable shared experience, building camaraderie to move things forward, there’s nothing like an Amazing Chase SmartHunt. It gets competitive juices flowing but effectively bonds a group of people together as they have fun and work through challenges, trying to rack up as many points as possible.

Professional Development Programs

Professional development workshops enhance your employees’ career growth and value to your company and are a productive choice for new employee orientation. They focus on the critical core competencies required to succeed in today’s business environment—from conflict resolution to time management skills. These workshops combine professional facilitation with an engaging and dynamic approach to learning and retention.

One popular professional development option for employee onboarding is Competition to Collaboration®, an engaging, trademarked training program highlighting the positive impacts of organizational synergy, both in sharing best practices and celebrating colleagues’ successes.

This activity gets people doing something that at first seems to be competitive, but then the twist comes when participants suddenly realize they need to communicate with a different group about the activity they just went through, including all of the rules, regulations, and strategies. They need to do this so well that the other group can beat the benchmark that was just set. Neither group is considered successful unless both benchmarks are surpassed.

A second excellent option is our DiSC Profile Workshop, which helps participants understand communication differences, motivational differences, some of their own tendencies, and some of the preferences of their fellow new employees to figure out how to work better together.

A third alternative is Emotional Intelligence Training. This program gives participants improved self-awareness as well as better recognition of the emotions and motivations of the other team members here. So, as they’re starting work in a new environment with some of their colleagues, they’re much more aware of how they’re coming across, how their coworkers communicate, and how to work with them more effectively.

In Closing

Team building activities play a vital role in the new employee orientation process, whether those new employees are just joining the company or they’ve been working remotely and are only now meeting many of their coworkers in person for the first time.

It helps establish trust, build personal connections, understand communication styles, and create shared experiences. Three types of team building programs that are particularly effective as part of the employee onboarding experience are Charitable CSR programs, SmartHunts®, and professional development workshops.

Team building activities should ideally be a vital and integral part of your employee orientation process. Here’s why—and it includes a significant impact you may not have thought about.

Every company has an onboarding process for new hires: get all the necessary forms signed, assign them a laptop, create their access badge, set up an email account, provide login credentials for the appropriate software systems, and so on.

Many corporate leaders have a general sense that team and relationship building are an essential part of that onboarding process as well, but may not be able to articulate precisely why.

Unfortunately, that can make it tempting to skip this step when budgets are tight, the department is short-staffed, or when a new manager comes on board. It’s easy to view team building as the “fun stuff” that can be skipped because there is “real work” to be done.

Here are four critical reasons to avoid that mistake and make sure team building is part of the new employee orientation process.

It Builds Trust

As business author Patrick Lencioni points out in his book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, trust is the foundational element of team effectiveness. Unless you have trust within a team, you won’t get constructive conversations, accountability, or the results you’re looking for.

Team-building at its core starts creating that element of trust through understanding each other and developing relationships. It does this by allowing the team to work together on a problem or challenge that is non-consequential in the sense that, if the group isn’t able to solve the problem, nothing’s at stake. It enables teams to “work out their bugs” without business risks.

And it gives team members the sense that they can rely on each other. Obviously, trust won’t be fully established during orientation, but a team building exercise is highly effective for laying the groundwork.

It Fosters Personal Connections

As workers return to the office post-COVID, many companies are dealing with significant employee turnover as well as bringing back staff who’ve been working remotely, possibly in a hybrid work arrangement.

That means, frequently, companies are not only onboarding new hires but also bringing in people hired within the past 18 months who’ve never physically met many of their coworkers.

Most employees, even those who enjoy the flexibility of remote work, are anxious to get back together in person. Company leaders can sense that people are getting worn down by the isolation, and things need to change.

When everyone is remote, there’s less connection. There’s less of the element of “We’re a team,” and a lot more of “This is a job,” and “We’re a workgroup, not a team.”

There’s a definite difference between a workgroup and a team. A team has energy. People feel like they have each other’s back. They talk about “we” and “us.” A workgroup is just a collection of individuals working on the same project. Both work groups and teams work on tasks, but they work on tasks in two very different ways.

In-person team building activities let workers see each other in full, three-dimensionally, head to toe, not just as a torso within a box on a Zoom screen. They can interact directly and enhance relationships that will lead to more of those informal, ad hoc hallway conversations that are difficult and awkward to manage virtually.

At in-person team-building events, participants get a different perspective; they see a completely different side of coworkers. Returning to the idea of trust, one of its foundations is showing some degree of vulnerability: that you can’t do it all, that you do need other people, that you have some challenges and weaknesses. Just showing that vulnerability in a team exercise where you do need to rely on other people can be incredibly valuable.

It Improves Team Dynamics

Often during a team-building activity, participants learn about each other’s communication do’s and don’ts, about what approaches resonate, and which ones drive a person crazy. When they’re working in a team environment, they can understand some of those aggravations. For example, if it’s analysis paralysis, they can see the frustration that creeps up—or they can see that pure enjoyment at areas of success.

When we understand and appreciate those value differences, pet peeves, communication styles, and what truly motivates people, we can really start to apply those into the work we have to do on a daily basis. Fundamentally, team-building exercises help with new employee orientation by establishing a foundation they can build upon as they start their journeys working together.

It Creates a Shared Experience

Establishing trust, connections, and communication may seem like obvious benefits of team building within the new employee orientation process. But a less apparent and easily overlooked bonus is the memorable, shared experience it creates.

The initial feedback from new employees after a team building exercise may focus on the fun, or the different perspective they got of coworkers, or the sense that the company cares enough about them to make sure they are engaged, that it’s not just “get straight to work.”

But when employees are asked about their overall orientation experience two, three, or more years later, the team building experience is what sticks. They may not recall much about the orientation videos they watched or the policy manuals they read. Still, they remember details from the team building program because of the emotional impact it had.

That makes the lessons learned in team building incredibly strong. People remember that it was a great way to get to know their coworkers and get started in their roles. For employees who went through that team building program together—and even coworkers who went through the same exercise, though not together—it’s a common, shared experience that creates a strong and valuable bond between them.

The Wrap

Team building activities can play a vital role in new employee orientation. They are as critical to setting up employees for success as getting them the right laptop with access to the right software systems.

By helping to establish trust, build connections, understand team dynamics, and create shared experiences, team-building prepares new employees to contribute productively to group efforts more quickly.

Part 2 of this series will showcase specific team-building programs that can be highly effective as part of the employee orientation process.

As vaccination rates rise and COVID cases fall, live business events and meetings are coming back in a big way.

The recent IMEX gathering in Las Vegas drew more than 3,300 meeting professionals for in-person education and networking, and Smart Meetings is reporting that urban venues are seeing the return of group business. Concerts are back.

And according to AdWeek, while virtual and hybrid events are here to stay, “Few believe the limitless audience of a virtual event is worth the in-person trade-off of a live event…What we’re seeing is b-to-b events come back first, (as) it follows the back-to-the-office trend.”

We’ve noted why team building should be a top priority as your employees return to the office or other workplace. You may not have everyone back in the office full time. You may have new employees still getting familiar with your people and operations. At the very least, you may have employees who haven’t physically worked together for a long while.

So, if you are bringing your people together (or back together) and are interested in the value team building can provide as part of that process, you may be wondering: what are some of the specific activities we should consider? And what are the unique benefits of each?

Here are seven fun in-person activities that are great for bringing your team back together in the post-COVID work environment.

Charitable CSR Programs

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs enhance the benefits of team building activities—teaching problem-solving, leadership, communication, and collaboration in a fun, engaging way—with the element of giving back to the community. The result is a powerful, emotional experience that increases employee loyalty and engagement. Here are details on three of the most popular CSR programs.

Bike Build Donation®

This is one of our signature trademarked programs. In February 2018, we delivered the largest bike build in history: 3,500 employees from Lowe’s built and donated 1,058 bicycles at one program in Las Vegas (watch the video here). Our facilitators have been delivering Bike Builds for more than two decades.

We continue to pioneer the future of this charity event with the use of our proprietary apps and Apple iPads®. This worthwhile program incorporates engaging audio/video clues and fun challenges and activities, enabling teams to earn the parts necessary to assemble bikes for children in need.

Mini-Golf Build and Food Donation

This is a fun charity team building program where, working in teams, groups design, construct, and play a mini-golf course using canned and boxed food items. Each hole has a unique theme and rules.

After the course has been built, an entertaining tournament ensues with scoring and friendly competition. Once completed, the course gets deconstructed and the food donated to a predetermined food bank or other charitable organization.

Build-a-Wheelchair®

Build-a-Wheelchair is another trademarked program, an engaging, worthwhile event that benefits wounded American veterans and other people with impaired mobility. Beginning with various iPads® activities to earn the needed materials, teams assemble, safety test, and decorate new wheelchairs for donation. Whenever possible, a representative from the selected charity arrives to accept and thank the group for their donation.

SmartHunts® (High-Tech Scavenger Hunts)

Best Corporate Events’ sister company, SmartHunts, combines mobile app technology with traditional scavenger hunts and games to take these activities to an exciting, engaging, and interactive new level. In addition to testing participants’ knowledge and collaboration skills, SmartHunts are a great way to discover a new campus, museum, or city. Among the most popular of these is the City SmartHunt®.

City SmartHunt

This program is a creative way to experience the essence of your chosen city. Photo missions, video challenges, and trivia questions guide teams on a fun scavenger hunt through monuments, historic sites, and local attractions.

All SmartHunts programs include destination-specific points of interest, fun trivia, pop-culture missions, clues to solve, photo & video missions, GPS mapping system, social media sharing, team tracking, and a live leaderboard with an event slideshow.

Team Building Events

Whether your focus is on strengthening connections and communications within your employee team, professional skills development, enhancing employee engagement and loyalty, or just enjoyable competition, team building events improve trust and performance. Here are three of our most popular programs.

Competition to Collaboration®

This engaging, trademarked training program highlights the positive impacts of organizational synergy, both in sharing best practices and celebrating colleagues’ successes. It begins with two sub-teams completing various challenges separately, attempting to improve their own performance and reaching goals for the other team to beat—then adds a surprise twist that reinforces the message of team collaboration.

A Minute 2 Win It!

As seen on the popular TV game show, and adapted for team play, groups participate in rounds of fast-paced tabletop challenges. The competition heats up as one-minute games are practiced and scored using commonplace items like pencils, plastic cups, and a deck of cards. Teams cheer and have a blast as they vie to be named champions.

Igniting Team Performance Series™

Whether your team is a newly formed group or an existing project team, this dynamic training session will measure your group’s teamwork proficiency, identify areas that need improvement, and deliver activities custom-tailored to those needs.

Fun and fast-paced, participants will engage in increasingly complex challenges, each one preceded by brief yet powerful group discussions. This program is customized to meet your organization’s unique situation and objectives.

Conclusion

With proper safety protocols in place, live events are coming back. People crave togetherness and connection.

In-person team building programs are an investment your company makes in its people that pays off in improved retention and loyalty, greater workplace collaboration, and enhanced interpersonal skills. As offices and other workplaces reopen after COVID, bringing employees together in a fun and productive way is more important than ever.

Roy Charette, a founding partner of Best Corporate Events, recently joined Phil Brandt, president, and CEO of AAIM, on The Morning Briefing podcast. They discussed the current labor market, team building, philanthropy, employee retention, social media, and much more.

The full podcast runs 33 minutes, and it’s well worth listening to. But we know many of you are pressed for time, so here are 13 bite-sized nuggets of wisdom Phil and Roy shared during their conversation.

1.) Host Phil Brandt shares some eye-opening statistics about “the great resignation” and the top business challenges facing leaders today. (1:04)

2.) What’s the most popular type of team building program? Roy answers what it is, and why. (0:42)

3.) How do companies choose from among the 120+ different types of team building programs that Best Corporate Events offers? Roy explains the detailed, up-front assessment process used to help clients choose the ideal option. (0:41)

4.) Here’s one of the most important reasons business executives are doing team building events right now. (0:45)

5.) Roy details examples of two programs that are very popular currently. (1:06)

6.) Here’s a brief explanation of why team building events are more important than ever right now. (0:48)

7.) In-person, virtual, or hybrid events—here’s how Best Corporate Events accommodates the preferences and comfort level of every client. (1:24)

8.) Roy explains how team building helps accomplish several different business objectives. (1:15)

9.) Here’s how team building intersects with social media and personal branding. (0:39)

10.) In this tight labor market, here’s how team building can help to not only retain employees but turn them into enthusiastic advocates who help recruit new talent. (3:14) 

11.) Not every employee is always excited about participating in team building events. Here’s how to increase attendance, and what even those hesitant workers usually come away with. (2:04)

12.) Roy has personally led more than 1,200 workshops and seminars. Here’s one particular experience that stands out. This story will touch your heart. (1:21)

13.) From research, these are the two main factors in employee retention—and how team building supports both. (1:03)

Most team building activities are competitive—and for good reasons.

Competition is fun, it’s engaging, and it helps set clear goals for the exercise. And business itself is, of course, a constant competition for the attention, loyalty, and dollars of clients and customers.
But success within an organization frequently relies more on collaboration than competition. People need to work together to design the best products, make the best decisions, and deliver the best customer experiences.

How do competitive team building activities provide value to organizations? How can they be used to teach collaboration? And how can team building combine competition with collaboration to deliver the “best of both worlds”?

Here are the answers to those questions and more.

Teaching Collaboration is Hard

Why? Because for most people, competition is their default. It’s innate, hard-wired into us. Collaboration is not.

Think about it. Turn a group of small children loose on a playground, then sit back and watch. What do they do? They race. They see who can get to the top of the monkey bars the fastest. They play tag—and try not to be “it.”

When you’re in college, you’re competing against other students for grades. When you’re going out to get your first job, there may be eight people vying for that job, and only one person is going to get it. When you get the job, four people are being eyed for promotion; you’re one of them. You’re always competing.

Even within the same company in the same sales department, people will compete for regions, compete for clients…no matter how much collaboration there is, people are usually rewarded for shining, for standing out.

The results of competition are also much more straightforward to measure. It’s easy to see who crossed the finish line first, who got the high score, who’s numbers look best.
Even in team sports, where collaboration is crucial, it’s hard to tease out its exact value. To what extent did the New England Patriots win six Super Bowls because they out-collaborated their opponents—and to what extent was it the individual performance of Tom Brady? The same could be asked about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, or Maya Moore with the Minnesota Lynx.

Collaboration doesn’t come automatically. Competition does. All of that makes teaching collaboration much harder than simply telling people to share information.

So, when it comes to teaching collaboration in a team-building workshop, it is one of the most difficult things to do. An effective facilitator can model the behavior, point it out, and celebrate it. But to actually teach it and have it ingrained takes a highly skilled facilitator plus great program content. Leadership, problem-solving, and communication are teachable. Collaboration is the most difficult skill to ingrain into people.

Competition Can Be Constructive

Of course, the competitive aspect of team building is certainly valuable. It just depends upon what the goals are. At Best Corporate Events, about a third of our clients just want competition. They’re thinking A Minute to Win It, Catapult, Corporate Survivor, Go-Kart Competition, Team Olympics, or a scavenger hunt. They want groups of x employees to compete, and to have one winner, or three teams to win the Gold, Silver, and Bronze while all the other teams are losers.

We offer many different programs, in-person or online, wherein one team is going to have the most points. They win the gold medals. Competition can drive people to make extraordinary efforts to win, which is great.

But what makes these team building competitions even more impactful is that although participants are competing against other teams, they are working highly collaboratively with the other people on their team.

Team members are problem-solving, brainstorming, looking for solutions, and pumping each other up. Within each group, the efforts are tremendously collaborative, but all the groups are competing against each other. So these programs provide the best of both worlds.

But Collaboration is More Powerful

Another way to teach collaboration in a competitive team building situation is to add all of the teams’ scores together and make that the score for the activity. When participants realize the goal is to maximize every team’s score rather than simply out-scoring the other group, they will share information and discoveries in order to help the other team(s), and therefore maximize the overall point total.

Organizations often identify that realization as one of the highlights of the entire day: that even though the program was set up like a competition, someone recognized collaboration, verbalized it, and got the entire room to understand. Suddenly these teams of employees, who were all too willing to immediately compete for the highest score, started sharing information instead of hoarding it.
A twist on that is to recognize the high-scoring teams but also add the scores of all the teams together and calculate the average. Then there is a “half time” called. The highest-scoring teams are asked to share what they did, to identify and share best practices so that every team does better in the second half.

And then in the second half, though all teams are still operating and being scored independently, all the scores are added together again. The goal is for all of the teams combined to achieve a 25% or 30% improvement compared to the overall scores in the first half. That’s collaborating to compete.

Bringing It All Together

The business benefit is the mindset those employees take back to the workplace. They look for opportunities to collaborate, and are excited about it. They focus more on how their activities and communications impact the overall organization, not just their own roles.

Virtually all of our team building programs involve competition. Most incorporate some level of collaboration as well. And if the idea of improving collaboration through competition sounds really intriguing, you may want to check out our trademarked Competition to Collaboration® program.

Welcome to the BEST blog, a collection of team building articles, industry insights and news about our large collection of programs and events offered in locations across North America.

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If you have immediate questions, please contact us at:

    If you have immediate questions, please contact us at:

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    Email: Sales@BestCorporateEvents.com

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    Programs can be delivered anywhere in North America.

    We have been working on improving our website. If you experience any difficulties with our forms, please let us know at sales@bestcorporateevents.com.

      If you have immediate questions, please contact us at:

      Phone: 800.849.8326
      Email: Sales@BestCorporateEvents.com

      What is a Keynote Speaker?

      Keynote Speaker is an often-misunderstood term associated with simply a motivational speaker, breakout speaker, industry expert, etc. Most professional speakers are not actual trained Keynote Speakers, who are specialists, therefore in much lower supply, and in higher demand.

      Keynote Speakers are experienced, professional communicators who engage an audience, capturing the essence of a client’s meeting. They are able to highlight it to their audience while simultaneously delivering their own key concepts and proprietary content in an entertaining and impactful way. Most companies understand that this specialization is very much worth the time (around an hour) and the investment.

      In order to capture the perfect essence, a Keynote Speaker spends the necessary time researching a client’s industry, their issues, and their audience to craft a customized presentation into a unique and distinctive moment specifically for the client’s event.

      As a top Keynote Speaker, Tom Leu strategically uses compelling storytelling, humor, powerful visuals, audio and video clips, and audience participation elements to weave an impactful message into your event in a fun and memorable way. Tom can also pair his Keynote with Best Corporate Events programming, laying a foundation and setting a tone that best prepares participants for maximum engagement in the forthcoming team events that day.