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4 Team Building activities for virtual teams (and why it's not a waste of time!)

4 Team Building activities for virtual teams (and why it's not a waste of time!)

Oh man has hollywood given Team Building a bad rep with that whole ‘fall backwards and I’ll catch you’ trust exercise. I have run countless Team Building workshops and never once have we fallen and caught each other, I promise!

Team building activites are absolutely important. Getting a team to really trust each other, debate about the right direction, challenge each other, give each other useful feedback, hold each other accountable, praise and celebrate each other… this is ALL the stuff Bosses desperately want to see in their teams. It’s the secret sauce to getting a team providing super high value back to a biz effectively and efficiently… not to mention freeing you up to work in your zone of genius instead of constantly being middle man between your team members!

But how the hell do you do it in a virtual team when you can’t just all gather in a room together, give high fives and do a group hug??


Here are some of the easier ways to build this dynamic up in your group:

1. Virtual Launch Party

When you’re celebrating a launch that you’ve pushed over the finish line, have a party! Get everyone on camera, make sure everyone had a budget to get themselves some celebration bubbly and/or nibbles, and celebrate together. Keep this very much in the ‘party’ mode, you can even have some topics of conversation prepared in the background to throw out to the group to make sure it stays in celebration mode rather than back sliding to work updates mode. This can be a little challenging when in different time zones but you can still make it work!

2. 2 Truths and 1 lie (and other quirky meeting starters)

The idea here is to very regularly have bite size ‘get to know each other’ actions on the agenda. This could be something as simple as ‘how was everyone’s weekend’ before diving into the ‘to-do’ part of an agenda, to funny learn about each other icebreakers like sharing what they wanted to be when they were kids. A common one used is ‘2 truths and a lie’ - everyone says 3 things about themselves, 2 true and 1 lie, and the rest of the team have to guess which are which.

3. Regular All Hands / Townhalls

Although I’m the first one to be hard on regular meetings, this can be a useful one. A regular virtual meeting that includes everyone and gives a little window into what everyone else is working on can help people feel connected and part of something bigger than a daily to-do list. Each person gets 30-60 seconds at the MOST to give a quick peak into what they have going on, challenges they’re coming across or where they’ll want help from others in the team that week. And keep it super brief - the longer this goes on the less effective it will be. Bonus points if you pay for lunch or nibbles on a monthly basis!

4. Team Outing

Ok, yes this one seems odd given you’re all living in different cities (and possibly different countries!). The idea here is that you pick a day when everyone is going to knock off work early, even just an hour or two, and go explore somewhere interesting in their local area (ideally with company funds, set a modest budget ahead of time).

Everyone then does their own local activity, with their family or friends - could be the zoo, a ball game, maybe a hike in the local park. And they share photos and videos to a group spot throughout the day! Point out interesting aspects, share some livestream videos with all of you, so even if you’re not in the same timezone you can appreciate the outing.


Ok over to you Boss - which ones work for your team? What will you try to get the team building action going? Comments and questions welcome!


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Thinking of Hiring HR Support?? You May Be Making a HUGE Mistake...

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Thinking of Hiring HR Support?? You May Be Making a HUGE Mistake...

I sat down with my new boss as their brand new People Team Manager.  First day jitters. First day excitement.  And the big question yet to be answered:

‘So what is my main goal over the next 6 months?  What results do you want me to achieve?

His response made my stomach drop.

‘Oh I just want the team to be happy.  Just make them happy’

Sigh. Oh no no no no no… just no.

And here’s why my stomach dropped.  It’s not because it wasn’t an admirable answer.  It wasn’t because I questioned his motives, they were awesome (he went on to be one of my favourite bosses).  It wasn’t because I had an ego response to being more than the clown in the corner who told knock knock jokes and actually contribute to the business (although I admit that was probably in there a little).

It was because what he wanted was NOT MY JOB and was setting me up to fail.  What he wanted was to outsource his job… only he didn’t know it. His motivation was great, wanting his team to thrive, but his idea for how to make that happen (hiring me and delegating) simply wasn’t the solution.


Here are the top 3 times when you should NOT hire an HR person for your biz:

1. I need someone on the team to give tough feedback and help them with their career development

STOP.  These points are all parts of YOUR job (or a leader on your team’s job).  Feedback, praise, communication, development conversations - these are jobs of someone’s direct leader, someone who has a day to day relationship with them, knows what they do and are accountable for the team’s results.  

What to do instead:  If these are the things you need to delegate, and it’s totally ok if you need to as you grow, what you need is a general manager or team manager who is the direct Boss of your employees, NOT an HR person to try and ‘band-aid’ solution it across the whole group.  They simply won’t have the day to day knowledge or responsibility to do this well, even the most amazing HR person is set up to fail in this scenario.

2. I need someone to figure out what our ‘company culture’ should be and make it happen

No.  Seriously, just no, I can’t tell you how disastrous this one is.  Here’s the deal, a company culture, regardless of the size, is made up of the said and unsaid things we reward, things we tolerate and things we punish.  Literally that’s it. Culture is the unwritten rules of an organisation, and you can definitely work to change that culture - but not by asking a stranger to come in and do a ‘culture change’ program.  

What to do instead:  walking the walk (do what you want others to be doing), setting super clear expectations and being consistent.  This is a leadership responsibility, you do not need to hire someone to do this for you. However this can be a good time to get yourself a coach or consultant to be your expert in the background and support you as you go through the inevitable bumps and bruises of change.

3. And the classic ‘I need someone to make my team members happy’

Ok this one on the surface seems pretty innocuous.  You care about your people, you want them to be happy and motivated and love work, so it’s very tempting to want to bring in a ‘people expert’ to be accountable for this measure.  There’s two problems with this, (1) people will think it’s not important to you, hence why you’ve delegated it to some new person and (2) this new person very likely won’t actually have the power to truly impact the things that make or break employee’s happiness levels.  

What to do instead:  Hire a qualified amazing HR / People expert.  Hear me out - what I mean is to hire a fantastic People Expert to coach and advise YOU on how to do this, give you inside insight into what’s blocking people from loving life, have an outside set of eyes on what’s working and what’s broken, set up tools, resource and structures to allow people to make themselves happy.  Their responsibility is not to DIRECTLY motivate and make people happy, but instead is to enable YOU to create the right conditions for happiness and motivation. They can be invaluable as long as it’s very clear who’s accountable for what.


Get super clear on WHAT expert you need on your team and WHY you want them there before you hit the green button and hire an HR professional!

Questions or comments?  Get in touch I’d love to hear from you, get in touch


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