So, you have recruited the perfect team. Well done! The rising stars and coming contenders of your industry are all housed under a single roof. You breath easy and take a well-deserved break.
Ten minutes later, you look out through the fogged glass of your corner office to see the best minds of your generation destroyed by fighting, complaining, and petty politics. Where you thought you had a well-oiled machine, suddenly you are stuck with a bowl of full betta fish. Enter employee team-building. Below are some ways to keep everyone on the same page.
1) Get Creative!
So maybe your office bends away from the "jock" side of the spectrum toward the "intellectual" side. If you want to get the creative juices pumping, get the employees to work together to create something fun. You could probably use a new video on your website anyway-bring a camera into the office, leave for a couple hours, then see what they come up with.
PROTIP: The video will be about you. It may include questionable content. Be prepared to have a sense of humor about yourself. If that is too difficult, consider haveing them design an in-office logo, a team mascot, a t-shirt design, or a new slogan. They'll be working together to create something worthwhile.
2) Get Classic
Three-legged races, tug-of-war, trust falls, and about a hundred other employee team building practices may be horrible cliches, but they are horrible cliches for a good reason. They are easy to set up, effective, inexpensive, and quick enough that employees who dislike horribly cliched employee team-building games won't have to deal with them for very long. A personal recommendation: find a high wall and have them work as a team to get everyone to the other side. If you have once depended on a teammate outside of the office, you will likely feel better about depending on them inside the office.
PROTIP: Use these exercises, but don't overdo it. Some less enthusiastic employees may find being hoisted over a wall to be slightly "undigified".
3) Get Sporty
Sure, you've heard this one before, but there's a reason for that. People will work better as a metaphorical team if they work together as a literal team. Add to that the natural endorphins and good health that accompanies a solid workout, coupled with a good dose of cathartic competition. Ask around and see what sport gets the most interest - some great options are: softball, soccer, flag football, ultimate frisbee, or minigolf. Whatever you choose, it all comes out to happier, healthier, team-ier employees.
PROTIP: Want some super-practical, super-effective team biulding that employees will super-appreciate? Schedule in an optional workout break just before lunch and go as a group. Sign up your whole team through BetterWorks and revel in a steep discount on the best gyms nearby.
4) Get Talking
Give employees something they want to talk about. Break everyone up into smaller groups and encourage them to share the craziest/most embarassing they have ever done. Make it competitive so the really fun stuff comes out. Then see which group has the single best story. It will break down barriers and afterwards they might not take each quite so harshly.
PROTIP: Caution: Now is not the time to talk about questionable trading practices or anything like that. Set up some ground rules as how much sharing might be "too much". We want to share, not scare!
5) Get Some Food
Since the dawn of time, meals have been a social, recreational experience. Allowing employees to eat a sack lunch behind their desk isn't just a missed opportunity for teamwork, it's against the natural order of things. According to Kyle Ewing, Talent and Outreach Programs Manager at Google, "The [group] meals create an environment for you to have conversations you wouldn't have in your office. That's how some of our best ideas have been born". Bring your team together for a group meal and see what develops from their causal conversations. Feeling ambitious? Rent out a restaurant and send the chefs home - see what your employees can cook up in the kitchen!
PROTIP: Encouraging group orders and social eating by giving out a food budget can be one of the simplest ways to encourage team-building (not to mention winning the undying love of one and all). When you use employee perks, employees are able to place group orders wtih the budget that you give them at nearly any restaurant they like.
Final words of wisdom: Bond. Have fun. Be Safe. Remember - this is employee team-building, not Spring Break!