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Category: Team Building

Every enterprise today has access to technology, information, capital, and even talent (though they may have trouble retaining it). So what is it that separates high-performing organizations—those able to retain and engage the best people, and operate at a consistently high level—from their struggling peers? Recent research studies from Harvard and the U.S. Surgeon General agree on the answers.

Two closely related workplace factors have an outsized impact on organizational performance: relationships and well-being. These intertwined elements have huge effects on employee satisfaction and engagement as well as team communication and collaboration, all of which are critical ingredients in the high-performance mix.

Here’s a closer look at the research, the elements of workplace well-being, and how team building and professional development can help organizations improve in these areas, and ultimately perform at higher levels.

The Value of Workplace Relationships

Harvard Business Review reports that workplace friendships are anything but trivial: “By fueling our basic human psychological need for belonging, meaningful workplace connections drive many of the outcomes central to high-performing teams…Employees with close connections at work are more productive, creative, and collaborative. They also report being more satisfied with their job, are less susceptible to burnout, and are less likely to leave their organization to pursue another role. In other words, not only are they better contributors, they provide more stability to a team.”

Relationships have far more value than just their contribution to employee retention. They are the secret to happiness. As Inc. magazine notes, “Personal connection creates mental and emotional stimulation, and those things are automatic mood boosters, while isolation is a mood buster. Humans are an intensely social species.”

The Inc. article goes on to explain how modern technology, for all of its benefits, plays a big role in increasing isolation. Technology is vital to high business and operational performance. But to optimize both performance and employee happiness (which are closely linked), organizations have to foster human connections as well.

The Elements of Workplace Well-Being 

Based on extensive research, the Surgeon General has created a framework for workplace mental health and well-being. In introducing the framework, the Surgeon General’s website states, “Work affects both our physical and mental well-being—in good ways and bad. (In recent surveys) 84% of respondents said their workplace conditions had contributed to at least one mental health challenge (while) 81% of workers reported that they will be looking for workplaces that support mental health in the future.

“These five essentials support workplaces as engines of well-being…Creating a plan to enact these practices can help strengthen the essentials of workplace well-being.”

Note that workplace relationships (Connection & Community) are one of the five critical components in the model, working with and supporting the other elements.

The Role of Team Building and Professional Development

Obviously, applying this model in the workplace requires many things: leadership, executive buy-in and commitment, investment, and creativity among them.

Team building and professional development programs can also play vital roles in enhancing workplace relationships as well as the four other elements in the Surgeon General’s model. Here’s how.

Protection from Harm

Physical security is a big consideration of course, particularly given recent stories ranging from rude restaurant patrons to abusive air travelers.

But psychological security is also crucial to workplace mental health and well-being. Our Emotional Intelligence Training workshop helps participants better understand their own emotions and the emotions of others to manage them constructively. The application of EI at work helps create a culture of trust, loyalty, enhanced social awareness, and honest and open communication.

Conflict in the workplace is unavoidable, but our Conflict Resolution Training teaches participants strategies to handle disagreements with respect and professionalism. Finally, our DiSC Profile Workshop and MBTI Training enable employees to better understand their own personalities and recognize key traits in others, to eliminate bad habits, minimize conflict, and improve communication.

Connection & Community

As noted in a previous post here about how team building jumpstarts employee morale, every team building program incorporates four fundamental pillars: communication, collaboration, problem-solving, and leadership. Those pillars help employees build and enhance workplace relationships by working together to solve problems in a fun and challenging way, outside the normal context of work.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs specifically, in addition to incorporating those pillars, create a connection between the workplace and the wider community. Working together at events that benefit deserving nonprofits creates an emotionally powerful bond and shared experience among employees.

Work-Life Harmony

So many factors play into healthy work-life balance, from management to company policy to workplace structure.

Team building also can also play a role in fostering this harmony. According to Roy Charette, a leader in the fields of team building and professional development training, and managing partner at Best Corporate Events, the takeaways from corporate team building that transfer to life outside of work help bridge that gap.

“When a team building activity really resonates with a participant, the lessons they experience are often the ‘24/7’ variety in that they apply to all aspects of both personal and professional life. Enhanced active listening or conflict resolution skills, for example, will transcend the workplace and brighten interactions at home with friends and family.

“Participants will sometimes feel so connected to the lessons from a particular activity that they want to replicate that experience with their family, church group, or other organization they are associated with. It reminds them of a struggle they are having or a problem they need to solve outside of work.”

Mattering at Work

Team building impacts this component of workplace well-being in a couple of different ways. First, CSR activities help employees see a larger purpose in their work. They see their organizations making an investment in giving back to the community—whether it’s a Bike Build Donation® or Bears and Blankets program to help kids or a Build-a-Wheelchair® activity to help seniors, veterans, and others with mobility impairment—and are powerfully impacted by the opportunity to play a part in that.

Second is the feeling these activities create in terms of making a difference. For the sake of mental health and well-being, employees need to feel a purpose larger than just crossing items off an (often ever-expanding) to-do list.

What precisely will make employees feel like they’ve made a difference will vary among people. It may be making a difference for customers or clients. For some workers, it’s about making a difference in helping out their team. For others, it may be taking on a big challenge that no one has been able to figure out, or becoming the go-to subject matter expert in a certain area.

“What’s great about the programs at Best Corporate Events,” says team development professional Steve Ockerbloom, “is there are so many different team building activities that help accomplish those goals, that help employees connect the exercise to their regular work and feel that sense of making a difference.

“In a program like Crack the Case!, groups of employees compete to solve a series of puzzles and challenges designed to test creative thinking, problem-solving, ingenuity, and deductive reasoning, in order to ultimately crack the case before competing teams.

“CSR programs like Build-a-Guitar® and the Mini-Golf Build Food Donation present challenges that produce a sense of accomplishment as well as giving back to the community. So if we think about meaningful work in terms of being purpose-driven, or solving challenges that seem impossible, or becoming the subject matter expert, these team building activities give people an opportunity to latch onto that aspect, which can be incredibly motivating.”

Opportunity for Growth

Performance coaching and feedback isn’t just for helping struggling employees get up to standard and feel like they are contributing what’s expected. It’s vital to also apply this to top performers to help them understand their opportunities and perform at an even higher level.

“Development coaching” is a skill taught in our Managers Guide to Business Coaching program. It will look different for every employee. For some, it will be about preparing them for a leadership role. Other employees may not be interested in a supervisory position, but will want to learn a new skill set, or make a lateral move to gain experience in a different part of the organization, or get involved in a new project. The key is to provide employees with a path to growth within the organization—rather than watching them walk out the door for a new job offer.

One more key point here: leadership training isn’t just for current or aspiring leaders. It can benefit virtually every employee. Attending our personality assessment workshops or other professional development programs can help employees understand different perspectives and learn techniques and insights to influence peers within the organization, even without taking on a management role.

Conclusion

Studies from Harvard and other sources show that developing strong workplace relationships helps employees be more productive, collaborative, engaged, and happy at work, all of which contribute to higher levels of organizational performance.

The sense of connection produced by those strong relationships with coworkers is one of five essentials in the Surgeon General’s framework for workplace mental health and well-being. The other essentials identified in this model include a sense of safety and security, work-life harmony, a sense of mattering at work, and opportunities for advancement.

Implementing the full model requires top-level leadership and commitment, investments, and creativity. Team building and professional development programs can also play a strong supporting role in all of these facets of workplace well-being, ultimately leading to greater employee retention and engagement, and improved operational performance.

The bad news is the state of corporate training in the U.S. today is abysmal. The good news is, this is fixable. And companies that do it well will reap multiple benefits.

First, the bad news. According to recent studies, six out of 10 employees say they’ve had no formal workplace training; they’ve had to learn the job on their own. Only a third of employees say they are “very satisfied” with their job-specific training, and less than 30% are very satisfied with their career advancement training and opportunities.

Yet more than 40% of workers say that training and advancement opportunities are very important factors in their job satisfaction; more than six in 10 say career training and development opportunities are important when evaluating a prospective new employer, and more than three-quarters say a company is more appealing if it offers skills training.

Poorly trained or untrained employees are less efficient and productive than their properly trained peers, and in certain roles, can even cause safety risks.

In a nutshell, most workers say their employers do a poor job of corporate training. Those employers will find it harder to retain employees, attract new talent, and get the most out of their current workforce.

Benefits of Improved Corporate Training

Beyond the statistics cited above, other research has found that:

  • 34% of employees who left their previous job were motivated to do so by more career development opportunities.
  • 68% of employees say training and development is the company’s most important policy.
  • 70% of employees would be somewhat likely to leave their current job to work for an organization known for investing in employee development and learning.
  • 93% of employees said that well-planned employee training programs positively affect their level of engagement.

And an astonishing 94% of employees say they will stay at a company longer if it invests in training and development.

Clearly, providing training opportunities is vital not only to retain your current workforce but also to attracting new employees.

Not only does training help you hang onto your smart and capable staff, but it also enhances engagement and improves their skills, making them more valuable and productive. Just as top-performing organizations make team building a regular event, they also weave training and development opportunities into the fabric of their operations.

Strive to Improve Inside and Out

Optimizing your organization’s performance requires a combination of external training workshops for skills development and internal training to expand job-specific knowledge.

One challenge faced by internal trainers is that they often aren’t taught how to be instructors. It’s frequently simply a matter of seniority: Bill has been running the warehouse for years, so he can train anyone in on any function there, while Sheila has worked her way up through the finance department to a leadership role, so she can teach new accounting professionals all they need to know.

While that approach is certainly better than counting on new employees to figure things out for themselves, it’s not a lot better. It’s just as important for Bill, or Sheila, or any experienced employee to understand how to teach as to know what to teach.

The statistics cited above make it clear that employees value training and want to be trained effectively. But too often, the subject matter experts—the Bills and Sheilas of the world—while smart and well-intended, lack the communication skills, or the knowledge of how to be engaging and how to structure the information they’re presenting, to maximize comprehension and retention.

Challenges Faced by Internal Corporate Trainers

Individuals who conduct training workshops, facilitate team building events, or deliver keynote presentations are professional communicators. They impart knowledge for a living.

But your internal subject matter experts, often tasked with training new team members, are experts in their respective fields: accounting, customer service, IT, HR, engineering, design, or whatever function it may be. They are, generally, not trained speakers or educators. Four specific areas that present challenges are:

Generational differences: Your senior staff members may be Millennials, but are more likely Gen Xers or even Boomers. Regardless, any of these individuals can potentially be called upon, at different times, to train and mentor members of these generations or Gen Z workers.

“A skilled trainer has to be able to work well with all of the current generations. No matter what age they are,  they must be able to speak to them where they are coming from, to impart knowledge effectively,” says Tom Leu, MS/CPC, who delivers a keynote titled My Generation. “Having trainers or instructors who are also skilled communicators who know how to teach people from multiple generations is not only ‘nice to have,’ but more necessary than ever.”

New technology: Experienced professionals know how to use current technology within their roles, of course, but may not grasp the way that different generations think about and view their devices and software.

For Boomers and GenXers, learning to navigate the web and their smartphones is something they’ve done as adults, or at least as teens. Members of Gen Z on the other hand, and most Millennials, haven’t lived in a world without these things. They have no memory of a time before these existed.

It’s important to understand these perspectives when training younger (or older) employees. GenZ office workers know where the “Save” button is in Microsoft Word, but many have no idea that the icon represents a diskette—because they’ve never used one.

Learning styles: Some people are auditory learners (they understand and retain information best by hearing it), while others are more visual or kinesthetic (hands-on).

Corporate subject matter experts who aren’t trained as trainers tend to teach in the style they learn best. But different styles, or a mix of different mediums, may work best for the employees receiving the training.

What’s in it for me (WIIFM): To maximize understanding and knowledge retention, it’s vital for professional teachers to communicate to their students why some particular information is important, and why it matters to them. Professional teachers, trainers, and instructors know how to communicate the WIIFM to their students. Corporate subject matter experts may understand this but often haven’t been taught the skills or tools to impart that knowledge.

The Solution: Train the Trainers

Fortunately, there are a variety of professional development workshops and programs that can help anyone in your organization become a better communicator, and therefore a better trainer. Anyone involved in delivering formal or informal, on-the-job training can benefit from these activities.

One helpful approach is to go through a personality assessment workshop, which helps trainers better understand their own traits and recognize how to more effectively communicate with colleagues. Three valuable programs are:

DiSC Profile Workshop: This workshop helps participants learn how their own behavioral and communication styles correspond to others, and how the management of those styles can significantly impact the overall success of the group. It teaches individuals to identify and appreciate the traits of their peers and replace poor habits with empowering strategies for communicating.

Emotional Intelligence Training: Emotional Intelligence (E.I.) is the ability to understand and effectively apply the power of our wide range of emotions in positive, productive ways. This training helps employees better understand how to manage their emotions, take responsibility to contribute, and use this knowledge to communicate more effectively.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Training: The MBTI training workshop will increase awareness of your team’s relationships by identifying the types of personalities that make up your group and demonstrate how awareness of personality styles can translate into positive behavior. It explains thinking, organization, and decision-making associated with each personality style, and demonstrates how knowledge of learning and communication preferences can affect others.

Beyond these workshops, your internal trainers can learn more effective one-on-one communication skills in our Manager’s Guide to Business Coaching program and group communication practices through our Presentation Skills Training.

Finally, as a follow-up to his keynote talks, Tom Leu can deliver a half-day in-person training program reinforced by one-hour to half-day monthly virtual sessions on strategic communication skills.

Summary

Employees place a high value on training, both in terms of evaluating prospective employers and remaining loyal to and engaged with their current company. Skills training is vital for enabling employees to increase their productivity and be prepared to grow in their careers.

Yet as important as training is, far too often, organizations fail to do a good job with it. Only a third of workers say they are highly satisfied with their internal training, while nearly six out of 10 say they received virtually no training; they were just thrown into a role and forced to figure things out on their own.

Even when businesses do make training a priority, the subject matter experts doing the training may not be optimally effective. They know the information and the role but frequently have never been taught communication or instructional skills.

Fortunately, there are a variety of professional development workshops and programs available through Best Corporate Events that can help internal trainers better understand the role that emotions, personality traits, learning styles, and generational differences can play in training and learning. By becoming more effective trainers, they can help their organizations improve retention, recruitment, and overall business performance.

In today’s tight labor market and challenging economic environment, it’s more vital than ever to not only attract great employees but also keep them engaged. So what’s the secret to building and maintaining extraordinary teams?

According to Harvard Business Review:

“When it comes to building extraordinary workplaces and high-performing teams, researchers have long appreciated that three psychological needs are essential: autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Decades of research demonstrate that when people feel psychologically fulfilled, they tend to be healthier, happier, and more productive.”

Of those three needs, relatedness—connection to others—is the most challenging for organizations to develop. The difficulty has been compounded as organizations have moved to remote and hybrid work models since March 2020.

The HBR article lists several things that high-performing work teams do differently which help to foster connection, including being more strategic with their meetings; bonding over non-work topics; and giving and receiving recognition.

Professional development trainers and team building facilitators can help in all of those areas. Here’s how to recognize the need and then use those resources strategically to help create and sustain high-performing work teams.

Signs of Trouble

Obviously, any falloff in team performance is a source of concern worth investigating. Employee complaints are another sign of trouble, whether those relate to coworkers, tasks, strategy, the work environment, or other issues.

However, if those complaints are followed up by an acknowledgement of the employee’s role in the problem, and ideas for solving it, that’s actually a positive sign. It shows that the employee is engaged, concerned, thinking about the issue, and taking at least part of the responsibility for making things better.

Silence can be more dangerous than complaining, according to Roy Charette, a leader in the fields of team building and professional development training, and managing partner at Best Corporate Events, “A key sign of trouble is disconnectedness. When employees stop caring enough to complain or identify what’s wrong, they just go silent. That’s a big red flag.”

If you’re seeing any signs of performance or engagement issues, it’s vital to look for ways to build or rebuild that sense of connectedness among team members.

How Team Building Creates Connections

Team building activities can help any work team to do those things that high-performing teams do differently, as identified above, even in hybrid and remote work environments.

Be more strategic with meetings: Professional development programs like our in-person Meeting Management workshop or online Conducting Better Virtual Meetings program equip your team leaders to run meetings that are more effective, productive, and valuable for everyone involved.

Bond over non-work topics: Every type of team building program creates memorable shared experiences, particularly corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs, which have a profound emotional impact on participants.

That common experience is one type of shared interest, which “fosters deeper liking and authentic connections” per HBR. Organized team building events develop relationships that lead to more ad hoc employee conversations and gatherings.

Professional facilitators explain to managers how to bring the energy and enthusiasm of team building activities back to the work environment. This is even more effective when combined with personality assessments and leadership training workshops.

Give and receive recognition: Per the HBR article, “recognition is often a more powerful motivating force than monetary incentives.” Recognition, appreciation, and acknowledgement are key elements in team building activities.

Roy shared a remarkable story about the power of team building for recognition and connectedness: “One of the nicest compliments I ever received was at the end of a workshop, when a woman came up to me and said, ‘I wasn’t going to attend this workshop because, unknown to my boss and everyone here, I was planning to leave the company tomorrow. I had my resignation paperwork all written up. But after what I just did with my team, I’m staying.’

“And she stayed. She told her team a year later that she had planned to quit that week but then changed her mind, and that the impetus was the workshop I had led, because she had so much fun with her team. She hadn’t thought that was possible anymore, but it happened. And then she hired me to work with her team again. That’s a great compliment.”

Programs for Creating High-Performing Teams

Any of our professional development programs are excellent for building team effectiveness and cohesion. Options include:

Competition to Collaboration®: This is a unique series of team collaboration activities with a powerful message of organizational synergy. This engaging session will impart to your group coaching and mentoring skills, and highlight the positive results of sharing best practices, while celebrating the success of colleagues.

Igniting Team Performance: A fun, fast-paced, and dynamic training series that measures and defines your group’s current teamwork ability while imparting lessons on goal-setting, leadership enhancement, and communication skills. This program challenges your team to complete a series of progressively difficult challenges. Guided conversations uncover strengths and areas for improvement.

Total Recall: In this challenging and multi-faceted event, sub-teams of five are assigned specific roles while working together to replicate a pre-built structure—to be assembled in a totally different location—utilizing communication skills only through a chain of conversations. This is the ultimate activity to drive home critical lessons that can be applied immediately to enhance clear communication in the workplace.

What’s most important is the value of creating a shared experience. As Roy notes, “When you have a life-changing event and then try explaining it to someone who wasn’t there, it’s hard to make them understand why it was so powerful. But when you share an experience with your team, you develop connectedness, a shared understanding of why the activity was so impactful. It’s something everyone can relate to, look back on, and apply lessons from in the workplace.”

Bringing It All Together

Regarding relatedness, that most challenging need for organizations to address, the HBR article notes that, “Members of high-performing teams were significantly more likely to express positive emotions with their colleagues. They reported being more likely to compliment, joke with, and tease their teammates. In emails, they were more likely to use exclamation points, emojis, and GIFs.”

That paragraph caught Roy’s attention, who added, “When we deliver live programs, we share laughing and good times. That’s a smiley face emoji in real life. Participants will tell each other, ‘Great idea! That’s exactly what we needed.’ And then they will implement that idea. It’s the in-person equivalent of the exclamation point.

High-performing teams share several attributes: bonding, recognition, strategic meetings, phone calls, direct communication, and positive interaction. Team building delivers the equivalent of smiling emojis and funny GIFs in a live, three-dimensional experience.”

As the HBR article concludes, “Creating a high-performing workplace takes more than simply hiring the right people and arming them with the right tools to do their work. It requires creating opportunities for genuine, authentic relationships to develop.” Team building programs are among the most effective and fun ways to create those opportunities.

During team building activities, participants experience challenges, camaraderie, recognition, and fun. But what do they take away? After the shared laughter and the high-fives, what do they bring back home and to the workplace from that experience?

According to Roy Charette, a leader in the fields of team building and professional development training, and managing partner at Best Corporate Events, the specific takeaways are many, but fall into two main types.

Team-Oriented Takeaways

High-performing teams require a mix of skills and attributes: technical, analytical, organizational, and social skills combined with energy, passion, creativity, and engagement.

Team building programs help individuals to better understand what they bring to the team as well as the unique strengths and contributions of co-workers. It builds communication, collaboration, appreciation, and relationships.

As Roy describes it, “In our debriefs, we ask: What have you brought to teams you’ve worked with? And what can people count on you for?’ Facilitated team building activities and initiatives allow individuals to highlight their strengths and specific attributes, giving others an opportunity to recognize and appreciate each other as valuable and contributing team members.”

Teams also have an opportunity to identify areas for potential improvement and gaps in team-related performance. The activities act as a vehicle to delve into rich process discussions on the steps that can be taken to improve areas of weakness—revisiting communication systems, for example.

Individual Takeaways

When a team building activity really resonates with a participant, the lessons they experience are often the “24/7” variety in that they apply to all aspects of both personal and professional life. Enhanced active listening skills, for example, will transcend the workplace and brighten interactions at home with friends and family

Participants will sometimes feel so connected to the lessons from a particular activity that they want to replicate that experience with their family, church group, or other organization they are associated with. It reminds them of a struggle they are having or a problem they need to solve outside of work.

In Roy’s words, “I’m always giving away props, card decks, or other materials to people who feel connected to the activities and the value in what we did. I’ll answer their questions and give them guidance on facilitating the exercise with their own groups.”

Conclusion

Participants in team building programs take away lessons pertaining to high-performing team attributes as well as lessons specific to themselves as individuals. Organizations that invest in team building give their employees opportunities to grow as people, not just to be better workers. The payoff comes in both higher team performance and increased connectedness and commitment among employees.

While there are hopeful signs for employers that labor market tightness may be easing a bit, the long-term trend of slower growth in the workforce means competition for talent will continue for years.

That makes it imperative for organizations to create a workplace culture and environment that employees want to join, want to stay with, and are engaged in. Those that don’t, risk declines in performance and competitiveness.

This shouldn’t be surprising, and yet recent research shows that employee stress is at a new all-time high, while global engagement and employee well-being measures are low.

According to the State of the Global Workplace: 2022 Report:

“Before the pandemic, engagement and wellbeing were rising globally for nearly a decade—but now, they’re stagnant…With only 21% of employees engaged at work and 33% of employees thriving in their overall wellbeing, most would say that they don’t find their work meaningful, don’t think their lives are going well or don’t feel hopeful about their future.”

Numbers like that should spur leaders across business, government, and academia to action. But before developing strategies, it’s vital to understand what’s causing these high levels of stress and low levels of engagement.

Why Are Employees Dissatisfied and Disengaged?

The bad news for employers is that today’s worker shortage isn’t just a temporary blip caused by the pandemic, but is part of a longer-term trend. The good news is that the underlying reasons for worker dissatisfaction are within the control of leaders.

In a series of studies going back to 2012, Pew Research has found that while the specific reasons given by employees for voluntarily leaving their jobs has changed somewhat over time:

“When you look at the patterns and trends across the last decade, the big picture becomes clear—employees have realized that they are no longer willing to work in roles and for employers that consistently compromise their universal needs.”

The universal needs at the root of the labor crisis are identified as:

  • Foundation/function need: Compensation, benefits such as health care, child care issues, excessive hours, etc..
  • Value need: People quitting because they didn’t feel important, they felt disrespected, a lack of support, favoritism, and not being recognized for their contribution.
  • Growth need: Lack of challenge, not growing professionally, career development, and no opportunities for advancement.

Team building, training, and professional development programs can help, particularly with “value” and “growth” needs. As noted in our previous post on leadership training, “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.”

Here’s how.

Recruitment

Prospective employees will check out your company online before you even know they exist. Sites like Glassdoor and Reddit give them a glimpse into your company culture, leadership, compensation practices, and more, provided by your current (or former) employees.

When you bring jobseekers in for interviews and tours, they will scope out your offices. Do your people seem happy and collaborative in their work, or stressed and harried? Are the people they meet with friendly and welcoming, or do they treat the interview like an imposition? Or worse, an inquisition?

Team cohesion and management practices set the tone, and both can be improved through team building and professional development programs. Team building should also be part of your new employee orientation process, as it builds trust, creates shared experiences, and helps new employees get productive more quickly.

Retention

As any type of leader in your organization—manager, supervisor, executive, team leader—it’s vital to have open communication and dialogue with those who report to you.

You need to know how things are going; not just in the tactical sense (is this project on track?) but also how things are going with each specific team member on a personal basis. Do they feel secure? Is their work meaningful? Are they optimistic about their professional future?

Again, team building and leadership development programs can help break down barriers and improve that communication. But in terms of enhancing employee retention, they can do much more. Team building programs specifically help employees feel:

Valued: In the words of Roy Charette, a leader in the fields of team building and professional development training, and managing partner at Best Corporate Events, “We run team building activities that let people shine. People take turns feeling valued. They smile a lot in these workshops. We introduce activities designed to showcase people’s competence and ability and productivity, events that bring out the best in people.”

Motivated: Roy points out that in workshops and programs, participants are so busy focusing on the task at hand, laughing, and high-fiving each other that they forget to look at their phones for an hour…or two, or three. He challenges team members, “”If you can get this excited, energized, and motivated around an activity where there’s really nothing at stake, except for fun and team building, shouldn’t you be able to carry some of that over into your workplace where everything’s at stake: food on your table, a roof over your head, supporting your family?”

Passionate: Participants discuss how they can support each other, position each other for success, and move from competition to collaboration in the workplace in the same way they did during their team building exercise. The emotional impact is even more powerful when that activity has a corporate social responsibility (CSR) component. CSR team building activities such as a Bike Build Donation® or Build-a-Wheelchair® event help employees to feel more connected to their communities as well as to each other, increasing loyalty by creating emotionally impactful shared experiences.

Professional development programs for leaders help them carry those outcomes back into the workplace, to create an environment that fosters those same feelings. They learn what they can and should be doing as managers to lead high-performing teams in ways that don’t lose the “connectedness” developed through team building activities.

Relationships

Strong working relationships are key to employee retention and high performance. Employees who have poor relationships with peers or feel their supervisor is treating them unfairly will start looking for new opportunities elsewhere.

Team building activities help build and strengthen those relationships. The experiences are positive and designed to foster collaboration, to enable each team member to bring unique strengths to help achieve the objective. “We’re not putting people into a situation where they will need to deal with conflict resolution,” says Roy, “unless that’s what the workshop is about.”

“Our 100-plus workshops are very positive and engaging,” he adds. “They bring about the best examples of how we interact with each other. We have great communication, we share laughter, and we position others for success. We celebrate each other’s accomplishments. There is recognition, acknowledgement, and value.”

The Best Programs for Attracting, Retaining, and Engaging Employees

Choosing a team building program or professional development workshop starts with an assessment. From there, any program may be customized to some degree to meet the specific needs and goals of the organization.

Managers also often ask if it’s better for them to participate in the team building activity or to observe it from the outside, looking for strengths and weaknesses.

“I normally say, ‘If you participate, that will have an impact, but you don’t have to participate in the whole event,’” says Roy. “I can explain the activities and then based on what they’re looking for, tell them which activities they should step away from, which ones they’re going to want to see from the outside because they’ll love what they see.”

That approach works well with programs that have “pause” points built in where participants can be debriefed and process the experiences, such as Competition to Collaboration®. But in programs like Build-a-Guitar® or SmartHunts® (high-tech scavenger hunts), all participants are involved from start to finish.

Leadership and professional development programs such as the DiSC Profile Workshop, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Training, Developing Emerging Leaders, and Emotional Intelligence Training help managers bring some of the collaboration and communication benefits of team building programs back into the workplace.

Half of all Best Corporate Events team building programs use iPads for participants to take photos, record videos, and answer trivia questions among other activities. This provides the ability for participants to look back at those activities later on, enhancing the value of the shared experience.

“Quite frankly,” Roy summarizes, “all of our programs allow for everyone to feel good, to shine, to feel connected, and to have fun with each other. Having fun, feeling connected, and laughing with each other can have amazing impacts on employee retention, loyalty, and engagement.”

Wrapping Up

The bad news is that a tight labor market and competition for talent will be with us for several more years. The good news is that most of the factors driving (and avoiding) employee turnover are within management’s control.

As noted in Entrepreneur, “The reality is that there’s no such thing as a labor crisis right now if you have employees who are happy, engaged and loyal…(and) other people actually want to work for your organization (which happens when you gain a reputation for employees whose universal needs are supported through working with you).”

Among the top reasons employees voluntarily leave organizations today are that they don’t feel valued, recognized, or connected, and don’t see opportunities for advancement.

Team building and professional development programs can help on all of those fronts. They provide recognition and build relationships. And the fact that the organization is investing in their skills and paying them to take time away from their normal work to enhance their collaboration and communication abilities demonstrates to employees a commitment to their career advancement.

Virtually any type of team building or training program will ultimately help with recruitment, retention, and relationship building. Team building activities build recognition and a sense of connectedness through shared experiences. Leadership development programs help managers bring some of the enthusiasm and collaboration fostered by team building events back into the day-to-day work environment, to help build a culture of high performance.

Although COVID-19 is (hopefully) behind us, the pandemic will have long-term impacts on the working world. Having grown accustomed to, and comfortable with, working remotely, many employees are resisting a return to the office.

Though managers would generally prefer to have everyone physically back in the workplace, given the tight labor market and projections for lower workforce growth over the coming decade, they can’t push too hard.

Of course, remote work isn’t an option for everyone. But for knowledge workers who are able to work from home (or pretty much anywhere), some combination of remote and hybrid (part-time in the office) work is likely to permanently replace full-time in-the-office employment.

Developing team cohesion and camaraderie is more important than ever for improving employee retention. Yet it’s also incredibly challenging to do when employees spend little time interacting in person. What are managers to do?

A regular schedule of team building and professional development programs can check all the boxes: it builds strong relationships, enhances collaboration, increases employee loyalty, and improves interpersonal skills. The end result is an engaged, high-performing workforce. Here’s how to get there.

How to Use Team Building with Remote and Hybrid Work Teams

Effectively managing and optimizing the cohesion of physically disconnected work teams requires thinking about the challenge across multiple dimensions, including people, processes, and programs.

Building collaborative teams goes way beyond the technology. Tools like Slack, Zoom, and Monday can certainly be helpful, and remote work applications have in general gotten a lot better over the past couple of years. But the tools themselves are only infrastructure; it’s how the tools are used that leads to high performance (or not).

People

One challenge of managing remote/hybrid teams is that it’s harder to really get to know your team, and for team members to really get to know each other, without the benefit of in-person verbal and non-verbal cues day in and day out.

As noted in a previous post here, maximizing team cohesion with different personalities and work styles starts with utilizing some type of personality assessment tool, such as the DiSC model, MBTI assessment, or Predictive Index. The insights they provide are valuable in any environment but are even more crucial when managing physically disconnected work teams.

Some employees are comfortable working independently, with periodic check-ins and updates from team members. Others are more collaborative and prefer to talk issues through with teammates. Still others need time to process information and are uncomfortable making snap decisions.

It’s vital for managers to understand these differences regardless of the work structure, but even more critical—and challenging—in remote or hybrid situations. For example, an employee who craves socialization may need opportunities for direct conversations with the team leader and coworkers in order to remain comfortable and engaged.

“Managing is less about tactics and goals and more about team cohesion, building culture, and creating one-on-one relationships. Then when conflict or a crisis does happen, you’re better equipped to handle it,” says leadership coach Wendy Bryan.

“You have to arm your managers of hybrid or remote work teams with assessment tools and skills. It’s about really understanding the workplace drivers and what makes people tick, because most employees can’t just tell you how best to manage them.”

Leadership training is essential for enabling managers to understand and properly use the results of personality assessments. Team building programs help employees better understand and accommodate the different work styles and preferences of their colleagues.

Process

One basic component of managing geographically dispersed groups and making everyone feel like part of the team is not only a regular cadence of online meetings, but also an established structure, so that everyone gets the most out of virtual meetings.

That’s vital from a tactical standpoint, but it’s also crucial for managers to understand the softer side of online communications. Who needs to be “called on” during team meetings because they aren’t as eager as others to speak up? How do employees prefer to be contacted for urgent or quick questions: phone call? Text? Are they highly responsive on Slack or email? That’s important to know on both tactical and interpersonal levels.

The output of personality assessments can also be incorporated in creative ways into remote team communications.

For example, notes Wendy, “We could take the placards from the Predictive Index and black out the names. Then interject those into weekly or monthly meetings, asking ‘Who do you think is who? Which one is yours?’ It’s a five-minute icebreaker that’s fun, gets everyone relaxed, and is much more meaningful than small talk about sports or the weather.”

It’s also helpful for remote team cohesion to occasionally interrupt business with fun. For example, once a month, hold a mandatory 30-minute Zoom meeting where people have to be away from their desks and doing something physical, to encourage health and wellness.

People might be walking, at the gym, vacuuming, any physical activity. It may seem awkward at first, but after a few sessions, team members start to get creative and have fun with it. It’s great for physical and mental health, as well as employees showing a different side of themselves.

Team building and professional development programs also play a crucial role. “Think about what happens at sales meetings, marketing kickoffs, or other all-employee gatherings,” says Wendy. “People get to see each other, give high-fives, and hang out together. That’s so important. When it’s not possible or practical, virtual team building helps to meet that need in building team cohesiveness.

“You can have a manager attend leadership development training or your people do a team building program. Both are important, but have two different psychological effects. One is addressing the manager and how to manage. The other is for the team and how to see other sides of coworkers beyond email, Slack, and Zoom meetings. Start with team building for everybody, then springboard off into getting managers trained to be better leaders.”

Programs

Helpful programs for leadership and professional development in hybrid / remote work environments include:

  • Building Your Hybrid Team: This custom virtual workshop will give you and your hybrid team a roadmap for moving forward, while helping to organize for increased efficiency. It focuses on methodologies that your group can use in future meetings, and explore behavioral and work styles and situational leadership approaches. It will help you to create an Objective Statement along with corresponding team goals to ensure everyone is on the same page.
  • Virtual Coaching and Feedback: This online program will increase your ability and skill to provide virtual coaching and feedback that is engaging and effective. It helps develop trust and respect and promotes self-awareness that will allow for increased development and focused career planning.
  • Conducting Better Virtual Meetings: Learn the skills and tools to make your virtual meetings effective and productive. Plan remote meetings that will deliver tangible results with clear takeaways and follow-up action plans that will ensure your attendees see value in attending and participating.
  • Developing Emerging Leaders: For a more in-depth approach to developing and enhancing leaders in your organization, this comprehensive workshop series helps current and future leaders realize their full potential.

Among the most popular and effective virtual team building programs for strengthening remote team cohesion are:

  • Virtual Morning Jumpstart: This event can be delivered on any day of the week as a fun way to launch into a productive workday with smiles and camaraderie. Virtual Morning Jumpstart promotes team cohesion and enhances relationships through a lively series of game-type challenges and morning wake-up-themed activities.
  • Virtual escape rooms: Programs such as Escape the Office, Save the Boss, and Search for the Cure bring together an immersive storyline, clues of varying difficulty, detailed graphics, and an advanced escape room platform to intrigue and challenge your group.
  • Virtual Speed Networking: This engaging get-to-know-you event incorporates a series of fun and challenging icebreaker activities and discussion topics, conducted remotely. After every break-out session, teams will return to the virtual “General Session” space to reconnect with the large group and the host.

How to Schedule Workshops and Programs to Enhance Team Cohesion

Keeping remote work teams engaged and productive requires establishing protocols and processes, but also building team cohesiveness in a hybrid work environment. It’s very helpful to do some type of activity on a quarterly basis that brings the team together outside of the work you actually have to do. To maintain team cohesiveness among remote workers, you need to be even more deliberate about this than when you have the whole team on site every day.

In addition to training or professional development workshops that are just for managers, an ideal cadence is one team building event per quarter—live if possible, virtual if not. And the entire team should do at least one or two live, in-person team building events each year.

Conclusion

Building and maintaining highly collaborative and productive work teams is challenging in any environment, but even more so in remote or hybrid work situations. Leadership development and team building programs are essential for optimizing team cohesion and performance.

Managing successful remote teams requires the right mix of people management, processes, and programs. It starts with using a personality assessment tool to help managers really understand the unique characteristics of team members, and training managers on how to use the output of these tools.

Remote work processes help keep the team in sync. These need to take into consideration both tactical requirements and people management “soft skills.”

Team building and professional development programs play a vital role in keeping remote team members engaged, and your teams performing at a high level. The ideal cadence for team building activities is quarterly, with at least one in-person event each year.

When it comes to the performance of work teams, “our diversity is our strength” isn’t just a slogan. Dozens of research studies over time have shown that diverse teams are smarter, increase financial returns to the organization, and perform 30% better than homogeneous teams.

Diversity and inclusion are often thought of in racial or ethnic terms, but also include diversity of approaches and perspectives. When team members think about problems differently, the team is more likely to make better decisions because it will evaluate the situation from different angles.

As a very simple example, “drivers”—people who throw around phrases like “move fast and break things,” “get ‘er done,” and “just do it”—help keep teams moving forward. But team members who are detail-oriented “questioners” and “collaborators” prevent the group from moving too fast and overlooking important considerations. The most effective teams have a mix of these personality types.

The key to unlocking the high-performance potential of diverse teams is skilled management. Without the right tools in place for managers to understand and address the different personalities, perspectives, and work styles of team members, there are significant risks of dissatisfaction, dysfunction, and eventually employee turnover.

Here are several tools, processes, and programs that can help managers optimize the collaboration, cohesion, and performance of diverse work teams. But first, a quick look at the risks of getting it wrong.

Risks of Mismanaging Diverse Teams

Improper management can lead to dissension and disagreement within the team, as well as disengagement and even departure of skilled employees. So how does a manager know there are problems that need to be addressed?

It’s a combination of verbal and non-verbal cues. Is there conflict? Is there frustration? Are people unhappy? You, as the team leader, can probably see by their body language or their tone of voice that something is bothering them.

Getting the team back on track requires digging in to determine what’s really going wrong beneath the surface. Too often, when one team member is seen as “holding the team back,” the temptation is to steamroll forward and let that individual work it out and catch up.

Talented employees start off in new roles with enthusiasm, with the desire to be empowered and to make a difference. But if they aren’t given time to think things through, if they don’t feel their concerns are being listened to or addressed, they will begin to disengage.

Leaders are generally skilled at managing employees at the tactical level: “Do you have enough resources? Enough training? How are you doing on your goals? How’s your task list going on our timeline?”

But they also need the “soft skills” to understand how each of their employees processes information. Do they need more details? Just the big picture? Do they need to collaborate and check in with others? When managers don’t get this and accommodate different work styles, they too often end up surprised when talented employees walk out the door.

How to Optimize Performance Teams with Diverse Personality Types

Effectively managing team members with diverse personalities starts with a behavioral assessment. You need a tool that will provide a roadmap for these discussions, because optimizing team cohesion isn’t tactical; there isn’t a simple list of items you can check off.

The tactical side of team management is about metrics you can hit when thinking about SMART goals. Did we complete all of our tasks? Did we meet our timelines? Did we stay within budget? Those are checklist goals.

But when you think about team cohesion, culture, and managing a mix of personalities, you have to take a different tack. It’s all about building a culture.

A behavioral assessment is ground zero for this effort because it provides insights about “what makes people tick” in ways you usually can’t get from observation, even if you’ve worked with an individual for years. Suppose that person doesn’t say much in meetings—is it because they are processing the information, or because they are thinking three steps ahead?

As an example, a salesperson and an accountant may both be very good with numbers, but the accountant values structure and detail while the salesperson prefers more operational latitude and the freedom to move quickly.

It’s up to you as the leader to figure out who on your team needs details, who wants to “figure out as we go,” and who wants to discuss the issues with a wider range of people.

Tools to Help Manage Teams with Different Personalities and Work Styles

Building team cohesion across diverse personalities is like driving without GPS (or even a map) if you aren’t using some type of assessment tool. You’re making decisions based on gut instinct instead of science. Here are three tools that can provide the basis for more effective management of diverse personality types.

DiSC: DiSC is an acronym that stands for the four main personality profiles described in the DiSC model: (D)ominance, (i)nfluence, (S)teadiness and (C)onscientiousness. Depending on which personality type an individual best fits, that person will place relatively more or less emphasis on factors like getting results, influencing others, collaborating, or digging into details.

Understanding the different personality types on a team helps managers more effectively communicate with and motivate each individual. It improves understanding, leading to improved cohesion and reduced conflict.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI): This assessment can help dramatically improve team dynamics by clearly identifying the strengths and benefits associated with specific personality traits. It provides terminology that can be used in the workplace to handle disagreements respectfully and productively.

The MBTI assessment helps managers understand the personality composition of their team so they can communicate more effectively, improving performance while minimizing unproductive and corrosive conflict.

Predictive Index: This provides managers and leaders with the tools to have better conversations with team members, helping them understand each person’s drivers using a simple placard.

For example, consider this team with five members: Josh, Catherine, Julie, Ian, and Michael. Each has a different pattern.

Looking at these placards you can see, for example, Josh and Ian like to collaborate. Julie’s is “Let me drive,” while Catherine and Michael are situational: sometimes they’ll take a lead and want to drive, and sometimes they’ll collaborate.

That information alone allows you to better understand why Julie is always the most talkative in every meeting. But Josh and Ian prefer to test the waters with other people it will affect. Julie, who likes to drive, just trusts the process, so she doesn’t need to collaborate on many decisions.

Julie, Josh, and Michael are all “Let me think it through” types as well, while Catherine and Ian like to talk it out. So, again, when you’re in meetings and talking about launching a new product or project, understanding how your different team members address the problem helps you facilitate that conversation because you can see that Catherine and Ian want to talk it out, while you may need to prompt the other team members to tell you what they are thinking or what pieces of the puzzle you may be missing.

Using any of these behavioral assessment tools is more effective than simply asking questions, because most people aren’t able to articulate what these assessments reveal. The results are as enlightening to the individuals themselves as to their managers.

As a leader, these assessments will help you understand, for example, whether a team member needs more details in order to make a decision; prefers to collaborate with others first; or simply needs to think it all through. From a team cohesion standpoint, you need to understand these workplace drivers because they don’t fit neatly into management checklists. The key is behavioral assessments.

Team Building and Professional Development Programs to Help Manage Diverse Personalities

Best Corporate Events offers a number of team building and professional development programs that can help your managers better understand teams with diverse personality types while helping team members to better understand themselves and each other. The result is more cohesive, higher-performing teams.

Among these programs are:

Developing Emerging Leaders: Over a series of five virtual group sessions, this program utilizes the Predictive Index to assist in developing high-potential individual contributors into your organization’s next generation of leaders.

It addresses the four workplace drivers at several levels, starting with identifying who you are and understanding where you are. The program then progresses into communication; dealing with conflict; managing up and across the organization; and finally, managing and developing others.

DiSC Profile Workshop: This program introduces your team 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 and identify areas in need of improvement can help participants eliminate bad habits, minimize conflict, and improve overall team success.

Emotional Intelligence (EI) Training: An emotionally intelligent organization is one in which each member understands their Emotional Quotient (EQ) and how best to tap into it for professional growth. Applying EI within an organization helps to build trust and encourage open communication. This compelling, informative workshop covers case studies on EI, its six major components, and how one can apply their own EQ in the workplace.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Training: This eye-opening program introduces your group to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment. This tool can dramatically improve team dynamics by identifying personality types and demonstrating how the knowledge of these types can be applied to improve group communication, cohesion, and performance. Participants will also gain a comprehensive understanding of their specific personality traits, what strengths they bring to the table, and how they can improve.

Conclusion

Research consistently shows that teams comprised of diverse personality types outperform and make better decisions than more homogenous groups. But managing such diverse teams to optimize cohesion and performance is challenging.

Behavior assessments are the key to unleashing team performance and preventing unproductive conflict. The results of these assessments help managers understand how to most effectively communicate with each team member, while providing team members with insights that help them better understand their own drivers and characteristics, and how to collaborate productively with each other.

There are several different assessment tools available to help managers and teams, including the DiSC profile, MBTI, and Predictive Index. Each provides a distinctive output format and terminology to help manage group dynamics. Predictive Index uses placards that describe individuals across four personality dimensions.

Professional development training programs help leaders and team members best use the output of these assessment tools. Programs range from in-person workshops to multi-session virtual training exercises. The end result is happier, higher-functioning teams that are more cohesive and less plagued by unproductive conflict.

Our virtual professional development workshops are ideal for bringing together teams across regions or in hybrid work environments to enhance conflict resolution and team management skills. These workshops combine professional facilitation, the latest remote work technologies, and an engaging, dynamic approach to leadership development.

Pressed for time? Our virtual training programs offer the core learning and growth opportunities of a full professional development workshop in a more compact time frame.

The end result is happier, higher-functioning teams that are more cohesive and less plagued by unproductive conflict.

Team building provides many benefits in improving organizational cohesion and productivity. But what if you have very specific goals or objectives in mind, and none of the activities offered are a perfect fit? That’s where needs assessment and program customization come in, designing and delivering an event that meets your specific requirements.

Virtually all team building programs provide the four core pillars of team building: improved communication, interpersonal relations, engagement, and fun. They help with time and meeting management skills by incorporating a combination of competition and collaboration.

As noted here previously, team building positively impacts employee engagement and loyalty, jumpstarts employee morale, helps make new employees productive more quickly, and creates more effective teams.

But what if you are looking for a team building event to help you deal constructively with a major organizational change, such as a merger or the implementation of new technology? Needs assessment and program customization are the answer to creating an activity that will accomplish your specific goals.

What Exactly is a Needs Assessment?

At Best Corporate Events, our needs assessment is done on three levels. When a client first contacts us, one of our sales representatives will conduct the first-level assessment. Beyond the basic parameters of the event (number of attendees, location, time allotted, etc.), they will also ask about the client’s goals and objectives for the activity, and make recommendations if needed.

In addition, the sales professional will ask about customization and often make suggestions. For example, a client may be interested in arranging a Virtual Jeoparody or Virtual Trivia Blast game, while their company is in the midst of training employees for a new product introduction. In addition to the fun, general knowledge questions in the game, many clients are surprised and pleased to know we can help them craft 10 to 20 of their own company-specific questions.

Once an activity is locked in, a program manager will be assigned and will conduct a second-level assessment, asking deeper questions than the sales team. Finally, the facilitator who will actually be part of the event will ask a third, deepest level of questions around challenges the client may be dealing with and how the team building activity can address their specific issues and objectives.

One key question will be about how teams will be selected. Does the client want to specify which individuals will be on each team, or use an activity to randomize and “mix it up” so that employees are teamed with people they don’t normally work with closely?

Do they want an activity focused on fun competition, with first, second, and third place winners? Or is it a program for a large, highly competitive sales team, where the client wants an activity that will get those employees to think about when it’s best to collaborate, how to do so successfully, and how to learn from each other?

Another very important question is: What types of team building or training activities has the group done before? That leads into an additional series of questions such as: Have they had any experiences that didn’t work out well? If so, why? Were there any training activities or team building events that the client loved? If so, what was it about them that made the experience fantastic?

The answers enable us to either create a unique new workshop for the client, or to replicate a successful past experience for a new group of employees.

When Program Customization Makes Sense (And When it Doesn’t)

In some cases, a client knows pretty much exactly what they want. Perhaps they did a trivia game with their marketing department a few months ago, and loved it. Now they want to do the same type of program for their finance team.

Or they may have done a charitable Bike Build Donation® program last year that had a profound emotional impact on the participants. They may want to repeat the same program, but the company has a relationship with a military support organization, so they want to do a Build-a-Wheelchair® program instead this year.

In those types of situations, the assessment is completed quickly and there is little or no program customization involved. The client is familiar with team building programs and knows exactly what they want.

But more often, the assessment will reveal—or the client will know they have—a need for some level of customization.

Perhaps the company needs to bring together a group of new employees, either because of turnover or growth. Or the business is grappling with a major change, such as the implementation of new technology, developments in their industry, or a merger / acquisition situation. Perhaps employees have been through a challenging period, and the company simply wants to provide them with an opportunity to have fun and recharge.

In any situation where an enterprise is dealing with change or internal challenges, an in-depth assessment is extremely valuable.

One approach is to “start at the end.” What are the outcomes the client is looking for? If they imagine the activity is over, and it was very successful and the employees are walking away not only smiling but also more engaged, what were the factors that made it a success?

Helping clients to articulate their goals for the team building exercise—whether it’s improving collaboration and morale, bonding as a new team, dealing with team conflict or stress, problem solving, getting aligned with a new strategy or direction, or managing change—enables us to develop a workshop, activity, or training program that will be fun, productive, and successful.

The Three Levels of Program Customization

Although the degree of program customization is really a continuum from zero to “extensive,” it can be thought of on three basic levels.

The first level is essentially no customization. There may be some discussion during the assessment about issues such as how to organize the groups, but the program itself isn’t changed. Common examples would be where a client wants a program they’ve done before delivered to a new group, or where the objectives are simply fun competition with collaboration (which all of Best Corporate Events and SmartHunts team building programs deliver!).

The second level is minor customization. The most common examples here are adding some client company-specific questions or information to a trivia game or activity. At these events and programs like A Minute 2 Win It or Team Olympics, every team has a score at the end. You know who came in first, second, and third. Though the activity may be enhanced with some company-specific content, its structure remains the same.

The third level involves the most extensive customization. In professional development programs such as Competition to Collaboration®, the DiSC Profile Workshop, or Igniting Team Performance, success isn’t based on a winning score. It’s what the participants walk away with—the knowledge they have gained and the ideas they can apply in the workplace to improve collaboration and productivity—that really matters.

All of those types of programs help improve time management, meeting management, and communication skills. But they also offer greater opportunity for customization to meet other specific needs or goals for the client.

The Bottom Line Benefits of Needs Assessment and Program Customization

All of our team building programs deliver a common set of core benefits: they improve communication and collaboration, help build relationships, teach time management skills, and they are fun and engaging.

Through needs assessment and program customization, these team building and professional development programs can also be modified to meet specific objectives for clients, from something as simple as how to run more engaging Zoom meetings to managing change, engaging new employees, or combining teams.

And our facilitators use their experience not only to customize activities to meet specific needs, but also to constantly develop new team building and professional development programs to address the challenges our clients face. The best-performing companies conduct team building exercises on a regular basis; these new activities enable them to provide employees with fresh new experiences to continually build upon their success.

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.

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:

    Phone: 800.849.8326
    Email: Sales@BestCorporateEvents.com

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    Programs can be delivered anywhere in North America.

      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.