In the workplace or outside of it, building a cohesive, unified team is no easy task. Likewise, there’s no quick way to build community, genuine bonds, or to promote the assumption of positive intent. From a general stance, you could say that time breeds familiarity, and being around one another every day will eventually promote those desired connections and intimacy in a natural way. Or, put another way, it takes time to make friends.

But let’s think about this idea for a minute. Is time the only ingredient in this recipe? Are there organizations out there, ones that have been around a long time, with disgruntled, suspicious employees who only care about their own well being? Of course! Maybe you’ve been a part of one yourself.

So clearly, time isn’t the only variable in this equation. We’d argue that time is a necessary element to forming those close bonds within an organization, yes, but there are proactive measures you can take to help promote community and unity. Whether you have the title of a leader in your company or not, we hope you find today’s tips to be beneficial in a practical way. At the very least, we hope that some of these ideas spark your imagination to find a way to help out your own team and their current struggles — whatever they might be!

So sit back, relax, and enjoy this TreeRunner Grand Rapids Adventure Park blog about building team spirit in the workplace!

Big Picture

If you are anything like a lot of employers out there, your staff-related goals include improving communication, learning about their strengths and weaknesses, boosting their morale, and making sure they are both satisfied and productive.

If that’s the destination, there are multiple roads to get there. Seeing as how no two teams (or organizations) are alike, we want to be careful about painting with too broad of a brush. At the same time, however, there are processes, programs, and informal events that you can initiate to help build team unity.

Get Everyone Involved

Let’s talk about buy-in. Yes, companies necessarily operate on a hierarchy, but decision-making doesn’t always have to come down to the CEO or the executive board alone. We believe that collaborative decision-making is a core aspect of team-building. Entrepreneur magazine points out that employees are much less likely to feel invested in ideas when they aren’t involved in the process at all. Some companies take this idea and run with it, going as far as to let the staff of the organization determine annual goals by putting up the decisions to a vote. Rather than be powerless spectators, employees feel like they have a voice.

And while not every company in the world can afford to implement such measures, we are sure there are at least a few ways in which you could empower your employees with ownership on some level.

Establish Communication Channels

Speaking of people feeling like they have a voice, another facet of that conversation has to do with ensuring your company has proper communication channels for feedback, both positive and constructive.

If your staff members don’t feel like they have an outlet where they can be candid about an issue, they’ll feel trapped. This has negative consequences, as you might have already experienced, but perhaps none are more important than the fact that your “trapped” employee will feel negative about their work environment.

The good news, however, is that this can easily be avoided (for the most part). You can’t control what individual employees might say or do, but you can control how you act and what you say. That’s why it’s vital for any manager to maintain an “open-door policy” in terms of transparent communication.

It’s also necessary to make sure your company has clear-cut guidelines on expectations for communication. Create and print out a formal communication policy if your company doesn’t have one, or find the person who should have already done that and (respectfully, of course) ask them if they can do that themselves. Your company guidelines should mention how to handle unique scenarios, such as speaking with someone who does not speak English, how to interact with customers, and the like.

Finally, we’d encourage you to be proactive about collecting feedback. Ask for it if you aren’t getting it! Don’t wait until it’s too late and people have circumvented you without your knowledge. On a practical level, this entails continually reminding your staff that you are open to feedback, be it positive or negative. You can’t just say it one time and expect all to go well.

Encourage Informal Social Events

A quick search online will show you more “team-building” horror stories than you’ll ever need to hear. From being coerced to bathe with your coworkers to being required to show up to a (non-paid) work event on the weekend, there are plenty of ways for formal workplace bonding events to go wrong.

But don’t let those horror stories deter you from giving it your best shot! Just be mindful of misusing your authority to unintentionally obligate your staff to participate.

These things need to be organic — not forced. For an employer, the best way you can make sure you aren’t accidentally forcing your employees to participate in a work event is to empower them to be involved in the decision making and planning.

If you want to do something all by yourself, make sure it’s informal, low-pressure, and casual — like a happy hour. And be sure to make it clear that your staff is by no means required to show up!

Go The Extra Mile At TreeRunner

Let’s suppose for a moment that you and your crew are within driving distance of our aerial adventure park in West Michigan, the aptly named TreeRunner Grand Rapids Adventure Park. Let’s also suppose that your employees like the outdoors, enjoy being physically active, and are also big fans of team-building activities which let them get out of the office for half of a day.

Team building at our forest adventure park is a true one-of-a-kind experience.

First of all, we’ve got over 70 obstacles and zip lines, three difficulty levels, and seven different courses for nearly every ability and fitness level. So there is something for practically everyone to enjoy at TreeRunner.

And more pertinent to the team-building objective, we tailor our team-building experiences based on the specific needs each group possesses. This includes considerations such as team dynamics and the objectives which have been established. Some of the key benefits of our team-building activities include:

  • Communication Development
  • Conflict Management
  • Leadership Development
  • Trust Building
  • Creative Problem Solving
  • Time and Resource Management

We have experience working with both strong and capable teams as well as uncooperative and, well, selfish teams. We enjoy working with all types, as we understand that there is no such thing as a perfect team without any flaws.

Team-Building Packages

After filling out a questionnaire so we can learn more about the dynamics of your group and what you are seeking from this experience, we’ll get in touch with you so we can discuss which of our packages is right for you. We have two different experiences:

  • Team Bonding – A TreeRunner facilitator will conduct ground initiatives to challenge the group in order to initiate group cohesion, communication, and ultimately trust. After a debriefing, the group gets harnessed to experience all our aerial adventure park has to offer on their own.
  • Team Development – A more customized option, we will lead a tailored ground initiative followed by a debriefing similar to the Team Bonding package. After the debriefing, your group will head up to the trees where they will be given skill-based challenges by a facilitator on the ground. Everyone gets to be involved — even non-climbers!

At the end of the day, our goal is to provide a life-changing experience that helps your group get closer together. We believe that happy people are more productive people, and vice versa!

If you are interested in learning more about TreeRunner and our team-building options, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’d love to hear from you! In any event, we wish you good luck with your community-building efforts at your organization. Thanks for reading!