Many teams and organizations struggle with taking the time and/or money to participate in a team building activity. Everyone is busy and money is often tight. However, there are many reasons it is important for teams to spend at least a little time with each other outside of the office.
There is definitely a fine line between getting to know your work colleagues and over-sharing, but when we know a little bit about someone’s situation, it helps us build compassion. When we have compassion for someone, we tend to be more patient and more willing to support one another. For instance, if that colleague that frustrates you because she always seems disorganized shares with you that she is working a second job to make ends meet, it helps you recognize that her disorganization may not be from a lack of trying, but truly from a lack of time and energy.
Spending a little time outside the office also helps us see each other as whole people. When we only know someone in one capacity, we tend to view them through a two dimensional lens. We see the guy in accounting as the slightly under-dressed, number-crunching, shy man who can do anything with numbers. When we see him out of the office, we may notice that he is an avid hiker with three dogs who travels every weekend. This helps us see others in a three-dimensional, holistic way.
Taking the time to do a guided team building activity can also help our team recognize each other’s strengths and struggles. For example, we had a team work here at PBJ Connections that had three distinct departments. They were all very good at their job, but each one expressed frustration with the others when they had different immediate needs. After going through several activities with the horses and donkeys, they realized that their end goals were all the same: sales. Once they realized they all shared that same main objective, they were able to take a look at how each of them interacted with the animals do learn more about communication styles. The other benefit was that it created a space for them to share their feelings without the immediacy of work pressures.
If you are part of a team, talk them into getting out of the office, even if it is just for an hour or two. You will be amazed what you learn about each other and how that can shift your perspectives of each other just enough to make a difference in the work place.