Build a Winning Work Team Through Creative Teambuilding Activities

by Melany Gallant | Posted | Engagement

Build a Winning Work Team Through Creative Teambuilding Activities

Teambuilding activities can be a crucial part of developing your organization's internal cohesion and supporting high performance. Overall, teambuilding makes an organization whole, a sum greater than all its individual parts.

Want to have a winning work team? Then you need to develop skills in conflict resolution, problem-solving and establishing trust. Oh, but I don't mean you alone. Your entire team needs to develop these skills.

What makes the best sports teams in the world the best? Chemistry.

A team's chemistry can make or break a game. Chemistry is about playing together, knowing each other's strengths and weaknesses, and establishing plays that draw on the strengths of each team member. Tight knit teams have an intimate sense of what to expect in most situations occurring on the field.

Now think of what would happen if your work team developed the same qualities: spirit, togetherness and interdependence. With these qualities, you'd see increased employee engagement, better retention and greater productivity. So why not engage in some teambuilding activities to help you develop a high performing team?

Some of the main goals of teambuilding exercises include:

  • Establishing trust
  • Establishing processes for problem-solving and decision-making
  • Establishing processes for conflict resolution
  • Improving communication & group cohesion
  • Having fun!

Three Creative Teambuilding Exercises to Try

This post is the first in a three-part series on creative teambuilding exercises you can try with your staff to strengthen employee connections and enhance cohesion and interaction between departments. (July 8th Update: Read post two and post three to learn about the other two team-building exercises.)

These exercises are designed to build conflict resolution skills, problem-solving abilities and trust.

Remember, for these activities to be effective, they need to be well executed and deliver a clear, valuable message to participants.

Now on to the first teambuilding exercise...

Exercise: Role Playing to Improve Conflict Resolution

This is an example of a role playing exercise used at a top airline. This activity helps new employees learn how to deal with conflict that could (and does) occur with real customers. You should tailor the activity so that it represents a typical conflict that arises in your organization.

The goals of this exercise:

  • Understand the 5 styles of conflict
  • Establish a cooperative atmosphere to resolve conflict when it arises

Before beginning the exercise, review the 5 styles of conflict. These include:

Competing (Win/Lose): The competer tries to seek control over the situation, afraid that if they lose that control, their needs won't be met.

Accommodating (Lose/Win): The accommodator wants to smooth over all conflict and ensure that the other person gets what they need without taking into account what they need. They view preserving the relationship as most important.

Withdrawing (Lose/Lose): Withdrawers avoid conflict altogether. By avoiding conflict, both parties are denied the chance to resolve issues early on. Usually, avoidance allows problems to fester until they inevitably "blow up".

Compromising (Win Some/Lose Some): Compromisers assume that they aren't going to get what they want; they are willing to gain and give in a series of tradeoffs. Compromise is generally not satisfying to either party involved.

Collaborating (Win/Win): By collaborating with a person to resolve a conflict, the needs and goals of both parties are communicated in order to reach a better solution than either individual could have achieved alone.

For a more in-depth look at conflict styles, watch this video:

You can also use this link to access some exercises to help you assess your personal conflict resolution style:

And now...the exercise!

Time: 5-10 minutes

Number of Participants per Group: 3 (in this example: the employee, the customer, the observer)

Exercise Description: Provide the customer and employee with descriptions of a conflict scenario. The situations must be realistic and relevant to the role players. The employee must find the best way to ensure the needs of both the customer and the company are met.

Situation: Mr. Jones has booked a flight to Turkey through Happy Travels Flight Center. The day of his flight he is not allowed to board the plane because all entrants to the country must have a visa, and he never applied for one. The visa can be purchased at the airport however, Mr. Jones does not have sufficient funds to purchase it and is forced to cancel his trip. Infuriated, Mr. Jones calls Happy Travels Flight Center to demand they reimburse him for the ticket, credit him another trip, and pay for the taxis he had to take to and from the airport. He faults Happy Travels for not having warned him that he needed a visa.

The following 7 steps are measurable actions that the employee can take to arrive at a solution that will satisfy both parties:

Step 1: Listen to the problem: Allow the customer to vent their frustrations in full.

Step 2: Acknowledge the problem: Confirm with the customer that there is a problem that needs to be resolved.

Step 3: Summarize the situation: Paraphrase the customer's complaints to ensure you have a full understanding of the exact issues at hand.

Step 4: Identify the problem: State what the problems are based on what the customer has told you and your assessment of the situation.

Step 5: Ask the customer what they think is the best solution: By asking the customer for their feedback on solutions, you demonstrate an openness to resolve the conflict in a way that will be satisfying to them. In this case, Mr. Jones already stated at the beginning of the conversation that he wanted to be reimbursed in full for his plane ticket, transportation to and from the airport, plus credit for another flight. If he restates these as solutions, it helps you identify what would make him happy, giving you grounds to find out what you can realistically offer him.

Step 6: Discuss the customer's solutions with them and other possibilities: Now that you have identified the problem and know how the customer would like you to deal with it, it's your turn to provide some alternate possibilities that would be beneficial to them and the company.

Step 7: Identify the best solution for both parties: Once you have evaluated all possibilities with the customer, identify the solution that meets both your needs and clearly state the subsequent actions you will be taking in order to ensure they are satisfied with the end result.

Debrief: After the employee and customer have come to a resolution, the observer must provide feedback as to how the situation panned out, what the employee did right, what could have been done differently and offer a better resolution if applicable.

Do you have any great teambuilding activities to share with us? Have you tried this exercise with your team? What were the results?

In our next post on building a winning work team through creative teambuilding exercises, we discuss building problem-solving skills through "The Great Egg Drop" exercise.

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