Forming good connections with your project team and getting to know them as individuals is all part and parcel of good project management. By understanding the people you are working with and helping them to bond with each other, you can build a stronger, more effective project team.
Many project managers will have some call to include team building in their schedules from time to time. Some lucky ones might even have budget allocated to these types of activities. Whether you’ve got pennies to spend or nothing at all, effective teambuilding can be achieved in simple, fun ways. Here are some ideas to help.
1. Training activities: Training might not seem like a teambuilding exercise, but it really can be. The shared experience of being on training for the day can help people get to know each other better and build connections that are hard to foster in the office environment. However, training can be expensive, and you’ll want to get something worthwhile out of it aside of teambuilding, so pick your course with care.
2. Bushcraft / survival courses: Teambuilding in the more clichéd sense has often involved forcing workers to get involved in something they detest doing. Murder mystery weekends, assault courses and other self-improvement activities have all been on the agenda in the past, but today, thanks to the popularity of people like Ray Mears and Bear Grylls, it’s the bushcraft and survival courses that are seeing the greatest attendance. Just make sure everyone is up for it before you go making a booking.
3. Problem solving challenges: If your budget doesn’t stretch to an extracurricular activity, what about an office based challenge to boost team bonds? How high can you make a tower from envelopes and sticky tape, or can you build a bridge to support the hole punch using just straws and blu tack? Get people to work in teams or pairs and reward the winning team(s) with a small prize at the end.
4. Quizzes and puzzles: You can inexpensively download all manner of puzzles and quizzes from the internet, but to add a bit of spice, why not make it about your own business or workplace? Asking things like “which of our team used to play the tuba in a marching band” or “how many websites did we work on in 2010″ will get people thinking, talking to each other and learning.
5. Drinks and dinner: By far the easiest way to enjoy a bit of teambuilding is to simply go to the pub for a couple after work. Celebrate a milestone being met or a bid being accepted with a swift one in your local, or splash out on a more extravagant meal out to mark the end of a project. By all means socialise with your team, but maintain some dignity and control your alcohol intake if you want your respect to be intact come Monday morning!
Teambuilding is a necessary component of good project management, so don’t overlook it. It doesn’t need to cost a fortune, or take up valuable project time, but scheduling in a bit of downtime at key points throughout the project will help to keep a project team motivated and comfortable in the group. Such project management soft skills are essential for project success.