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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