Team-building had been perceived as a long getaway involving a series of rope climbing, trust falling or other sports based events. I’ve attended versions of these and their effectiveness varied depending on the people involved or the events planned, or both. But this blog is not about the good or the bad of these traditional methods.
Most good managers I know use team building in much smaller ways to be really effective. That building takes subtle weekly or even daily forms that helps both the managers keep in touch with their people and gives the employees a direct path to information and ideals on projects the manager is overseeing.
Here are a couple of ways to promote team building in more manageable and consistent ways:
Take your team to lunch:
If not for your team, that paycheck would probably be very different. Take your entire team to lunch periodically and give them both the thanks of a meal and a direct path to talking about problems or successes. Better yet, take subsets of your team to lunch once a week and get much more personal with smaller groups.
After a big success, acknowledge and reward with some time:
Millennials are haunted by the perceptions that they are lazy and feel entitled. Early on in my MBA we talked about managing different age groups and one generalization that seemed mostly correct is that what millennials truly value is time, away from work and in acknowledgement of a good effort. I take some of my groups to a newly released movie that we all want to see as a reward for a big job well done and over a long lunch hour. They get paid for time that they are watching a movie, and feel rewarded as well as thanked, which brings them backed energized to do more work.
Give them some undeserved (but deserved) time off:
The nature of our work requires most of my employees to be salaried. Most of my teams have to come in early and leave late during very busy periods. When I know an employee has had to come in early for some days to help on a project, pull them aside and guide them out the door early for a day or two. This shows them that you pay attention to the needs of the projects but also the subtle things like time tracking per employee. Just acknowledging their efforts is great; giving them time off because of it empowers them to trust in your relationship and abilities.
Nothing here is that cutting edge, and when I pull my wallet out to pay for lunches or movies for employees I remind myself that their work is providing some of my personal funding. It’s an easy leap to make, and I encourage all of you to try it.