Many companies use team-building exercises, including us at UMC, Inc. In fact, at our 2023 productivity summit, many of our attendees participated in several different team-building activities. Why?
One reason we love using team-building exercises, games, and philosophies here at UMC, Inc. isn’t because we think they are a magic fix for everything. We don’t just do these activities because they are fun, either! The real reason we participate in team building exercises is that they are a great way to get a fast fix on how our teams communicate and work together.
UMC, Inc. is growing fast. We have offices and projects across three states now, Utah, Colorado, and Idaho. We’ve been privileged to find great employees excited to join the UMC team and learn who we are. But when we come together, we want to see how our teams work together. How well do they communicate? What are their relationships like? Do they support one another and problem-solve together? Team building activities allow us to see how everyone interacts in a low-pressure, fun environment. So what are we looking for?
In a Harvard Business Review article examining the science of building great teams. Here are the attributes they found to be the most helpful to observe during team-building activities.
- Energy: According to the Harvard Business Review, energy is measured by the number and nature of exchanges among team members. So bringing a group of people together to complete a task or game as a team-building exercise is a great way to observe the group’s energy. You can see how they acknowledge, treat, and work together. For managers and senior staff, who may not have the chance to be on the job site each day with team members, you can gain valuable insight into your team’s energy dynamics during team-building activities.
- Engagement: Compared to energy, engagement is defined as the level of energy distribution among team members. During a team building exercise, you can observe engagement by seeing how much input and participation each team member brings to the activity. If the engagement is equal between members, your team probably works well together. But if it’s not, you may have an issue where one or more team members are likely not pulling their weight or struggling for some reason. This insight can help managers address team dynamics in a safe space instead of during a project or problem.
- Exploration: The last highlight shared by the Harvard Business Review is exploration. They define exploration as the outside communication that members engage in outside their team. They found that groups that willingly interact with other teams, asking for help or playfully interacting, tend to be more willing to seek fresh perspectives and work well with others. This metric is vital for our team at UMC as so much of our company is split between different projects, branches, and states!
As you can see, team-building exercises aren’t just for fun or to keep employees awake during a conference. They serve a valuable purpose of helping to build teamwork and address interpersonal dynamics. We believe these activities are valuable, and we work hard to make our summits and conferences engaging for our UMC employees.