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We’re all aware of media representations of team building exercises, like trust falls and camping trips that usually turn out to be a comedy of errors. But that’s media, not real life, and in real life, team bonding can be a huge part of building a successful team. We’ve all worked at jobs where there was little to no team unity, or where a corporate culture was handed down from on high in an attempt to foster such unity, but which failed to take the real experience of workers into consideration.
Teams where coworkers not only get along, but know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, are more successful. People know who to go to for specific projects or challenges, they know who they can trust to solve certain problems. They know how to work together to achieve goals, instead of trying to out-perform one another.
There are some managers who feel that they should pit their employees against one another so they push themselves to achieve as much as possible, but more often than not this simply leads to employee burnout. Similarly, teams which lack in unity often result in employees thinking that they need to do everything themselves, which can lead to burnout as well.
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Team building doesn’t have to take the form of field trips and such, but can be accomplished by simply bringing people together and getting them to talk about their own strengths and weaknesses, and having people work on projects together. These projects can be exercises specifically designed for team building, or they can be actual projects. And unless you’re planning on working right alongside your employees, it might be best to step back and leave teams to themselves sometimes.
It’s important that they know their managers as well, and trust them if they have concerns, but you don’t want to put them on the spot and observe them. Bosses who micromanage can not only harm team unity, but turn that team against themselves.